Venice Beach

by Dotan Saguy

Venice Beach is the 2nd largest tourist attraction in Southern California after Disneyland. Venice is the birthplace of modern
skateboarding and home to the legendary Z-Boys skateboarding team. Arnold Schwarzenegger pumped iron there back in the 1960’s. Jim Morrison used to sleep on a rooftop behind the Venice Boardwalk where he wrote the lyrics to some of The Doors greatest hits. Venice is a cultural and historic landmark that is a throwback to simpler, wilder times.

Over the past three years, Los Angeles based photographer Dotan Saguy has spent hundreds of hours documenting the diverse culture, people, and pageantry of the iconic Venice Beach boardwalk. He was irresistibly drawn to the free-spirited, anti-materialistic, and inclusive nature of the world-famous location which he found to be a breath of fresh air from Los Angeles’s sometimes homogenized, celebrity obsessed, plasticized culture.

Saguy hung out with his subjects for many hours at a time so he could learn about their passions, struggles, and gain their trust. As a
result, he became part of the Venice Beach family of local artists, transient hippies, tattoo covered surfers, oiled body builders, street
performers, musicians, skateboarders, local vendors, and the homeless, among other Venice denizens. He photographed them without judgment in raw, candid moments that are unique to the human landscape of this last bastion of unadulterated freedom.

In showing us the revelations of Venice Beach, Saguy has created a body of work filled with unexpected, enthusiastic surprises. His
fascination for the colorful, tattooed, costumed community is palpable. His compassionate photographs unabashedly praise the rarity
of the regulars who populate the sands of Venice. With an almost obsessive compulsion, Saguy strives to create perfection using
separation and geometry resulting in harmonious scenes of rich detail. His use of layering allows us an insight into the chaos he
organizes so beautifully within the confines of the frame.

Unfortunately, the Venice Beach that Saguy captures is sitting on the edge of a knife: gentrification and corporate greed threaten
to squash the way of life that has defined Venice for decades. Median home prices in Venice are now over $2 million, and the
cost of renting a 2-bedroom apartment has skyrocketed to around $5,000 monthly. The regulars are starting to move far away in
search of affordable housing. Saguy knows that he has documented what could be a lost society should the people portrayed in
his book are forced to acculturate. It is his hope that Venice Beach will help bring awareness to the issues at stake before this
amazing way of life is left to fade away. In the meantime, allow yourself to be mesmerized – as Dotan Saguy has been – by
Venice Beach.

Dotan Saguy

Dotan Saguy was born in a small kibbutz five miles south of Israel’s Lebanese border. He grew-up in a diverse working class Parisian suburb, lived in Lower Manhattan during 9/11 and moved to Los Angeles in 2003. Saguy pursued his passion for photography after a successful career as a high-tech entrepreneur. His award winning photographs have been published by National Geographic, The LA Times, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, CNN, ABC News, etc. Most recently, Dotan is a proud laureate of the Photolucida Critical Mass Top 50. His first monograph about the endangered culture of Venice Beach, CA was published in 2018 by Kehrer Verlag.

Dotan lives in West Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

What’s in the bag (not much!):
Leica M Monochrom and a 35mm prime lens

More pictures and further details can be found at

All images copyright © Dotan Saguy