For two years Michael Alpert, 25, photography, dedicated himself to car rentals. He was good at deceiving, a required skill in the competitive auto rentals world, but he hated it. Now Alpert is exhibiting his work at the Pasadena Museum of California Art.
A year and a half ago, Alpert started taking pictures at his friends’ events just as a hobby and his work was published in LA Weekly. Tired of his life and feeling that he could actually be good at photography, he decided to take it seriously. Alpert quit his job to focus his attention on his studies.
Alpert’s art instructor Mark Harvey describes him as ” a very engaged [student] and interested in class discussions and critiques. He brings an energy and joy with him everywhere he goes.”
Alpert’s documentary style is highly influenced by his experiences. “I like to show a part of culture where the majority has no access,” he said.
His photography shows subcultures from Los Angeles that most people will not have a chance to be part of – from punk shows to sacred Jewish orthodox ceremonies.
Alpert is inspired by the unique culture of Los Angeles. “You can find people or subcultures that are only local. You can see people you will never see and that are beautiful in their own way,” he said.
One of Alpert’s trademark is that his subjects don’t smile in his portraits. “When people don’t smile their true self is revealed. Their pain, struggles or anything that has happened to them transmits into the camera,” he said.
Harvey describes Alpert’s style as “a desire to express what he sees in unique ways.” He also added ” his portraits show an unflinching appreciation for those who some may consider extreme, and an ability to show how we are all similar.
Struggle has been an unconscious recurring subject in Alpert’s work. “If life is too easy you don’t push yourself . You don’t try to be your best and overcome the obstacles on the way”, he said.
Although Alpert’s family were skeptical of his new career path, the recognition of being exhibited in a museum is “a priceless moment for them”, he said.
Alpert’s friend Christopher Paguio said that being exhibited “made him realize that he has something the world wants to see and a talent that can be recognized”.
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