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L.A. Stories: 100 Years of Press Photography from the Watson Family Photographic Archive

Khai Le

ATHOM presents it’s inaugural exhibition, a breathtaking timeline of Los Angeles photography through the lens of one family — four generations, ten men each telling the story of their city from the perspective of their own life and times.
The Watson Family moved to Los Angeles in 1900 and began taking photographs of their new home town, first as a hobby and then as a multi-generation profession that continues today. The family, also early pioneers in the development of the film industry both behind and in front of the camera, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999.
”LA stories is a century of photographs, from an exceptional family – a historic anomaly, a family with a heritage of storytelling though pictures,” said Frank Coiro, FATHOM founder. “There have been multiple Watson museum retrospectives, but this is the first time the public will have a chance to purchase these historic photographs.”
The L.A. Stories exhibition displays the rise and fall of press photography, from the early years to the zenith, when newspapers had the power to start or stop a war, through today’s world with the shift to diverse web based information. Viewing the exhibition, which is displayed chronically, one can see the effects of technology on press coverage — how new cameras and lighting changed the texture of the pictures and even how events were photographed.
The exhibition includes photos as diverse as President Franklin D. Roosevelt stumping on his campaign trail inside the Los Angeles Coliseum; Tina Turner at the Greek Theatre; the construction of the happiest place on Earth, Disneyland; Col. Charles Lindbergh and his pregnant wife Anne posing in front of the plane they would use to cross the Continental US and set a speed record; Quincy Jones and Carol Channing having a laugh at a Los Angeles charity event.
”The Watson photographers motto has always been, pictures that tell a story,” said Daniel Watson. “Growing up, I was surrounded by endless stories about the great LA newspapers from my dad, uncles and my great uncle. And now, when I look at all of these Watson photographs hanging in the exhibition, I don’t just see the story of a city, I can actually teleport myself into their skin as they made these pictures.”
The exhibition Opening will be held Saturday, August 16th, from 6 to 9pm and will display through September 20th. Throughout the month, Daniel Watson will present a series of lectures on the history of press photography.
FATHOM is Santa Monica’s newest art gallery and is located in Bergamot Station. The FATHOM program consists of vintage pop culture and emerging art and photography.
FATHOM | 2525 Michigan Ave. | Building D4 | Santa Monica, CA 90404