Portfolio: Don Saban

Portfolio: Don Saban

Don Saban knows LA; he’s photographed it for a long time yielding images that are difficult to pin down in time. In fact, his eye for details found in Los Angeles create a visual proposition that they could be places found in Europe. His works has range—deep, black and white, to the new mundanity of color found in Uber scooters in a line. What is always apparent is his unfailing eye for the art of photography—his images rise above the ubiquituous cell phone portrayals and lead us in and back into a time when photography had meaning.

 
 
At what age and was there anything in particular that compelled you to pick up a camera and make it a career?
I was in grade school, and I can’t remember exactly what age I was, but very young… always the family photographer, so I guess that’s where it all started. I never really quit making photographs, and continued on with my first class in photography my junior year in high school, where I got very serious about it and made the decision that this is what I would do in life, and as time went on, nothing else captured my imagination or interest…so it was decided!
 It’s 2020—what is the state of photography in a digital world?
It just keeps getting better and better, and the printers as well. It has allowed me to do things I could only dream of back in the old film and darkroom days. That all seems so antiquated now, which in a certain sense, it is. With the advent of digital technology, it has inspired me immensely, and now allows me to do things I could never do before, so in a sense, the technology has finally caught up with my vision.
… on that note, what is your best method of advertising your work—instagram, twitter, etc?
I’m very active on Facebook and Instagram. I was posting a lot of my work on Flickr until it changed and is no longer unlimited for free accounts. I hit the limit for that a very long time ago, so I don’t really post there anymore. I also have websites of all the different bodies of work, which includes my video work, and can be seen here at the master site: http://donsaban.com/index.html
The Los Angeles project, how long have you been working on these images?
I think at least going on 20 years.

 

What photographers do you admire, living or dead that inspire you?
George Hoyningen-Huene, Horst P. Horst, Cecil Beaton, George Hurrell, and Vivian Maier to name a few…oh, there are so many, and I like them all for different reasons. I’m so glad you didn’t asked which is my favorite. How could I ever decide!
Is there a photographer that you mentor, and feel they are going places?
As you know, I’ve photographed a lot of jazz musicians over the years, and was introduced to a young lady who is just starting out by a mutual friend. I’ve sort have taken her under my wing and I’m passing along my knowledge of performance photography. She has a great eye, so I’m mostly helping with all the technical aspect of low light photography, and editing in Photoshop and Lightroom. She’s a very quick study, which makes it enjoyable to share what I know.

MEET THE PHOTOGRAPHER: DON SABAN

Don Saban, a native of Phoenix Arizona, received his formal training at the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, and simultaneously was a private student and studied art and photography as protege of professor William A. Rohrback, University of California Santa Barbara, who was a student of Minor White at Berkeley in the early 50’s. Saban stayed on in Santa Barbara after finishing his studies and was a member of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art Photography Committee. During his tenure in Santa Barbara, he was one of the first photographers to be in Art Life magazine and was the first photographer to be on the cover.

After coming to Los Angeles, he taught at Otis/Parsons and continued his photographic work which was published in numerous magazines. After 10 years in Los Angeles, Saban accepted the position of Principal Photographer at the University of California Santa Barbara. During that period, he was commissioned by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art to go to Budapest and do the photographs for the book, Standing in the Tempest: Painters of the Hungarian Avant-Garde. Saban then returned to Los Angeles once again, and in 1999 was brought on board as photography consultant to work on the Tokyo DisneySea project. Saban found a new home with the Walt Disney Imagineers, and 21 years later, is still providing photographic expertise and working closely with the team on all their projects. Saban continues to exhibit his work, and has had many one man and group shows, has appeared in books, magazines and various publications, and is in private and public art collections both nationally and worldwide.

 

Best Of

Best Of

All things must end—that includes 2019. It was the Year of the Pig, the year that we discovered that beer is good for you, cheese can protect you from salt, human bodies can continue to move over a year after death, the Lovers of Modena were men and dolphins are right handed. The climate in SoCal was extraordinary this year—not much humidity, ample rain, ample sunlight and we even experienced an earthquake or two! The Best Picture was Green Book (remember that?), Olivia Coleman won for her performance as Queen Anne then promptly went to work on The Crown as Queen Elizabeth II. The record of the year was Hey, Ma by Ben Iver as music slowly moved to aural epic sounds (especially soundtracks!) With all that in mind, we asked all our editors what stood out for them this year.

Joshua J. Pinkay

-Favorite Album: Scenery – Emily King
Emily King released her third studio album, Scenery, this year and has garnered two Grammy nominations for 2020. The record is a beautifully engineered piece of art that blends Soul, Folk, R&B, and real songwriting to create a melodic masterpiece.
 
-Favorite Restaurant/Meal: K-Town Smash Burger at E!GHT Korean BBQ
E!GHT Korean BBQ introduced their “Smash Burger” to L.A. this year which is an absolutely decadent mix of two pork belly x brisket blend patties, Gochujang Mayo, mozzarella cheese, Seoul slaw, all on a Bolo bun!
 
-Favorite Movie: Avengers: Endgame
This climactic film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe closed what many fans know as the Infinity Saga spanning 23 films worth of characters and connected story lines. It has since gone to break the World record for highest grossing film of all time.
-Favorite TV Show: A Million Little Things (ABC)
ABC launched their critically acclaimed drama series, A Million Little Things, which centers around the interpersonal relationships between friends and their families. The bonds of friendship in this series are tested when this group loses a core member of their lives to suicide, which in turn, unravels a series of questions that will affect how they see and interact with one another for the rest of their lives.
 
-Favorite TV Special:   HΘMΣCΘMING: A Film by Beyoncé
Beyoncé & NETFLIX released this record-breaking documentary that gave fans a closer look at her most iconic performance to date as the headliner for Coachella in 2018. No other artist in the history of Coachella’s existence has used such perfectly executed footage to create a show that has buzzed pop culture to the core and even making social media solidifying it’s impact by aptly creating the name “Beychella” as stamp to its place in history.
 
JOSHUA J. PINKAY is our Senior Editor

Randy Dunbar

Favorite Movie: Pain and Glory by Pedro Almodóvar. It’s a strange observation, but this film about an over-the-hill director connecting to his past is a devastating work of art; more than a film, a poem really to the beauty of survival, memory and how we manage survival. The Other: Once Upon a Time In Hollywood—maybe it was the time itself, but the acting, the memorable scenes (except the last 10 minutes) were powerful reminders of what movies can do.

Favorite TV: Years and Years: Russell T. Davies’ British drama that takes us on a journey with the fascinating and relatable Lyons family over 15 eventful years over only six episodes, and we start in 2019. A drama that had some predications about the future, insight into the nature of love and the endless fascination we all have with family. The Other: Succession—because we all want to think we could live this way.

Tech of the Year—Though no fan of Apple, I broke down and bought the high-end iPhone max—mostly everything stayed the same, but the camera continues to dazzle with a clarity and depth heretofore unseen.

Favorite Hangout: PRANK Bar— a block away from work, great drinks, brunch and company—the vibe is unpretentious cool in a relaxed setting.

Favorite Restaurant: Massilia—to hang with the owners and chef’s of a restaurant always brings a unique perspective to a dining experience, and here, the food was great as we pondered is it French, is it Italian? Located in Santa Monica near the Promenade, Massilia is another epicurean creation from Emmanuel Dossetti, the founder of Zinqué cafe,

Dennis Richardson

 

  1. Favorite Movie: Godzilla: King of Monsters
  2. Favorite Tech: Nintendo Switch
  3. Favorite Drink: Gik Live! Blue Wine
  4. Favorite Grooming/Hygiene Product: Lumē Deodorant
  5. Favorite Restaurant: Mambo International Kitchen

Niki Smart

Best Restaurant: Blair’s in Silverlake

Best Film: Parasite

Best TV Show: Succession (Seasons 1 and 2) and I’m already excited for Season 3 – but I also loved Fleabag and Barry.
 
Best Travel Experience: sitting in the street in San Pancho, Mexico, watching the happy chaos of people, kids, scooters, dogs, cars, bicycles, roosters, and even donkeys passing by.
 
Best Purchase: Solar panels for my house. Now my EV is powered by the sun – woohoo!
 
Best Show in Los Angeles: Scott Nery’s Boobie Trap (go see it!)
 
 
 

Anthony C. Stafford

 

  • Favorite Movie: Captain Marvel
  • Favorite TV Show: The Masked Singer
  • Favorite Shoe Brand: Mobs
  • Favorite Tech: Apple AirPods Pro
  • Favorite Restaurant: Mambo International Kitchen

 

Katie Nartonis

2019 High Desert picks

Favorite desert restaurants:
La Copine, Landers CA
Pappy + Harriets, Pioneertown, CA
29 Palms Inn, Twenty Nine Palms CA
 
High Desert Sites :
Integratron, Landers CA
Noah Purfoy Art Site, Joshua Tree CA
Sculptor Cybele Rowe private Studio Tour, Landers CA

Winter Style

Winter Style

The Art Of Winter Outerwear In A Warmer Climate

SoCal has its own style
These days, people in Southern California are more accustomed than ever to warm winters. Anything much below the low 50s or high 40s is an aberration, and while some LA folks may shiver in 65-degree weather, this still makes for a more comfortable winter than most experience. The interesting thing is squaring this unusually mild season with one of the more fashion-forward and culturally up-to-date regions in the United States. While fashionistas around the world rush to update winter wardrobes with the latest faux-fur coats and sustainably-sourced infinity scarves, you might be sitting outside at a restaurant in a long-sleeved tee! This doesn’t mean winter outerwear isn’t an option in warmer climates though. There’s just a little bit of an art to it. To examine the idea further, for any readers in SoCal, other stylish spots like Austin or Miami, or anywhere else where the winters are warm, we dug into some specific suggestions for seasonal garments. Find A Statement Sleeveless Coat It’s sometimes remarkable in fashion in general how far you can get by thinking just a little bit outside the box. This is certainly true when you’re looking for ways to embrace fall and winter fashions living in a region that doesn’t really get a winter by traditional standards. We actually went back a number of years and found an article on this very topic – winter fashion in warmer climates – that presented some lovely ideas that can still inspire you today. Most notably, a sleeveless camel coat highlighted by Song Of Style stuck out. It’s undeniably, timelessly chic, can be worn with any number of ensembles (the example included a leopard-print skirt underneath), and perfectly suits a warmer winter climate. Lightweight Jackets Are Your Friends A lightweight jacket can be the perfect everyday garment for a mild winter, though it’s sometimes surprisingly hard to find the right one. Often you end up caught between ordinary hoodies and sweatshirts, and heavier coats or down jackets that are warmer than you need. For the current season, the zip-front lightweight twill hooded jacket from Woman Within serves as the perfect picture of an in-between option. It’s described as something to have on hand for “transitional weather” when it’s neither too hot nor too cold, and the brand’s inclusive sizing range can also be a bonus. Something with a little room can be cool and casual for a SoCal winter, and at the same time this jacket will still fit you if you add a few pounds over the season (as so many of us tend to do!). Embrace A Playful Sweatshirt Or Two Since you likely aren’t going to be bulking up with full-fledged winter outerwear, there’s nothing wrong with taking an altogether more casual approach also. This likely won’t be an everyday option like a lightweight jacket might be, but if you find a graphic sweatshirt that speaks to something you love – perhaps a retro sports team look, or one of the Nickelodeon sweatshirts from Love Tribe – it can be just the thing for an average winter day among friends. These basic sweatshirts don’t heat you up too much, and almost always look great with the sleeves pushed up, but will still give you that little bit of added warmth you need. Opt For A Fall Blazer One of the trickiest things about all of this is finding an everyday look if you’re a little bit more fashion-forward. The sleeveless coat option is a very nice look, but not necessarily something for every day of the week; a lightweight jacket can be perfectly stylish, but may not fit in, say, a work environment. And needless to say, a Rugrats sweatshirt has its place! There’s a clear solution here though, and it’s to find a stylish fall blazer or two that can take you right through a mild winter season. A standard black or charcoal option can be dressed up or down and make for an excellent everyday jacket substitute. Though we also can’t help but love the emerald-colored notch collar cotton blend blazer from Gibson that’s popping up in some 2019 collections and write-ups. Find A Cap Or Beret You Love It’s somewhat difficult to take winter fashion beyond light jackets and coats when you live in a warmer area; it’s not as if you’re going to need some cute mittens or a head scarf for the next 55-degree day! That said, a seasonally appropriate alternative to a winter cap or beanie can be a nice touch that works just fine in warmer temperatures. Such an accessory can take all sorts of forms. You might actually find a loosely knit beanie that’s more of a fashion statement than a means of keeping your head warm. If you want to be a little bolder, you might find a suede fedora to pair with certain looks. For some winter staples though, the textured knit “baker boy” cap from Brixton and Hat Attack’s leopard-print beret were a few options that caught our eye. You can go well beyond these suggestions to more fully dive into winter fashion in a warmer region. A light scarf, some classic boots, whatever colors are trending in a given year…. These are all wonderful ways to embrace the season regardless of temperature. But the ideas and suggestions above can help you to really enjoy the seasonal wardrobe update you might be yearning for.

Journey Up the Nile River

Journey Up the Nile River

TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE
July 2019
There are many kinds of vacations—the relaxing, island vacation, the adventuruous trip up the mountains of Peru, the majestic splendor of old churches throughout Europe, and then there is the Middle East. A term coined in 1850s by a British India official, it is composed of 18 countries, 60+ languages and nearly four million people. It is the birthplace of most of the world’s religions and “has been a major center of world affairs; a strategically, economically, politically, culturally, and religiously sensitive area.”

So, let’s just say, it’s not Hawaii.

There are over 200 Nile cruise ships. Many originate in the small town of Aswan, which is down the Nile. This is where our journey begins—after we leave the hustle of Cairo. To get to Aswan you travel by plane or train—driving is not recommended.

An overnight trip to Aswan by an overnight train is a unique experience. The train station in Cairo grows smaller in the distance as we head south on a 549 mile journey. Waking early morning, a rattling train is now alongside the Nile River; a country with a long history that hasn’t seen, in these parts, enormous change: Men still pull carts with cattle, horses carry cane sugar. In one brief moment a dead cow carcass can be seen in a small pond by the side of the road. Time has stood still in these parts.

Aswan is a smaller version of Cairo. To be sure, there is a McDonalds, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, and likely anyday, a Starbucks, but for now, it is a popular city that sits on the Nile, with a substantial amount of river boats.

Aswan is the “Jewel of the Nile”. Pink and grey granite thrusts upward through the Nubian sandstone, forming mountains, cliffs and jagged outcrops. While there countless mosques, there is also Archangel Michael’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral—a towering catherdral  in the Coptic architecture — the architecture of the Copts, who form the majority of Christians in Egypt.

Security is a way of life in Egypt. In Cairo and in places like the Coptic Church, security runs high. Armed guards and blockades can be found at many hotels and indeed at this Coptic Church. But retail and restaurants flourish in the city of Aswan—it is only until late one after noon on a Friday that the azan, the call to prayer can be heard by countless speakers throughout the city—these callers, called muezzinine, are a cacophony of  sounds—it becomes a surreal moment in a backstreet hotel as the soundtrack shifts, the sun sets, we are surely not in the West anymore.

The river Nile. The view of the river as seen in Aswan.
Photograph by Zuke Oshiro
“What you can expect from a Nile River cruise is the adventure of a lifetime.”
DAY ONE we board the Santuary IV. The Sanctuary Sun Boat IV is a contemporary chic, sleek boat with heavy art deco influences. There are 36 standard cabins, two presidential suites and two royal suites. We are greeted as enter the plank by the entire staff offering refreshments and introductions. We are divided  into groups and assigned an English-speaking tour guide, who will accompany us to the various temples along the way. Afternoon tea will be served. Everynight an activity is planned—tonight, after a gourmet dinner is served, we watch as traditional fokloric music and a “whirling dervish” perform.

As one look about it becomes clear that this journey invites all kinds of people—local Egytians, A London-based Sufi businessman with his family, and elderly couple from Scotland, a couple from Cape Cod, a Brazilan opera singer and her daughter, and Egyptian family with their California-based son-in-law. The staff is attentive, ocassionaly too attentive, but the dinner, which is buffet-style, is a nice start to the this ride up the Nile.

A felucca is a traditional wooden sailing boat used in protected waters of Egypt. Its rig consists of one or two lateen sails.
Photographed by Zuke Oshiro
DAY TWO a large buffet breakfast is served each morning. Groups gather on the first deck and we head out for adventure.  We journey to the majestic Philae Temple on the Island of Agilika. We begin to make friends with some Egytian locals and their California-based relatives. The temples are surreal. Over three thousand years old, the preservation is impressive. We are to dress like and Egyptians for a post-dinner party. We bargain with the locals to buy a “galabeyya”, the traditional Egyptian outfit. Each night, at dinner you are seated in the same place. We are seated next to a Brazilian opera singer and her daughter. The after-dinner party is a chance for everyone to mingle and dance into the wee Egyptian hours. This is the requisite fun of travelling by boat—it’s a small party, you get to know everyone, and their stories.
DAY THREE we set off the visit the Temple of Horus. We begin to understand some aspects of the Egyptian pharoah culture. The mythology is deeply complex. For example Horus, is the sky god and there are two, Horus the Younger and Horus Elder. There is a surprising lack of sexuality in these temples, and everyone is quite fit. The drawings are impeccable and rarely vary in form.

We head to The Temple of Esna. The Temple of Esna, which was buried beneath its own debris for many centuries, is located in the center of the town, close to the River Nile and only a short walk from your boat through the local market. We are given passage by way of carriage. The remains of the Temple contain a hall of columns with 24 pillars beautifully decorated with lotus and palm capitals. Also notable is that while looking up, astrological symbols can be seen, 12 of them.

To suggest that it is overwhelming is an understatement. One has to pinch themselves to remind themselves of the reality—you are in Egypt, in the MIddle East and these are the temples that Hollywood has been in love with for so long.

So that evening, as entertainment, they have set up a projector to show the 1978 film, “Death on the Nile”. This version features Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgian sleuth. Actually filmed along the same route we are on, this two hour and twenty minute film runs late into the Egyptian night—we all retire early for our last day.

DAY FOUR The east and west banks of Luxor. This is the big one, the grandaddy of temples. We’re suddenly seeing more people at these temples.  First stop, Temple of Luxor, dedicated to the god Amun. We have had a change in our tour guide! The people in our group requested a new guide. Welcome Medhat, looking like something out of a central casting for Indiana Jones, he is informative and affable. We move onto the Temple of Karnak.
After lunch, visit the Valley of the Kings or The Great and Majestic Necropolis of the Millions of Years of the Pharaoh, Life, Strength, Health in The West of Thebes, as it was once known. We will have the chance to visit at least one tomb in the Valley of the Queens, and visit the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. On the way back to the river Nile, you will pass by the famed Colossi of Memnon, known in Ancient Greek times for their haunting voices at dawn.

 

It’s over. We arrive at our final moments on board the Santuary IV — saying goodby the ship is abuzz with activity. Rooms are quickly seen to. We head to the Luxor airport to head back to Cairo. We have made friends. We travel over vast stretches of desert, broken by the sudden appearance of a great lake, which seems to run for miles. We are back in Cairo for 12 hours.

There was something about this trip, that for the well-worn traveler speaks to that ocassional need for danger—not physical danger, but to be somewhere where your native language is foreign, the landscape, the people, the culture is vastly different than anything previously experienced. Bali was one of those places, The Maldives certainly. Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, all spoke to a distance of things known, flavors never tasted, history seen in terms of thousands instead of hundreds. Dangerous? Sure—you’re in the Middle East—you cannot get to Israel easily from Egypt though it is under 500 miles away. But it’s Egypt, it’s Cairo. It’s the Pyramids! It’s everything you ever imagined and more. To be sure, there was a moment, leaving the hustle of Cairo in a taxi and the Pyramids suddenlhy appear in the distance—it’s a moment. Crusing up the Nile via a five star luxury boat, that too, was many moments.

https://www.sanctuaryretreats.com/egypt-holidays

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