One sweltering day, sometime in July 2012, I left Van Nuys with my camera to escape the 105 degree heat.

I got off the 405 and drove west, towards the ocean, along San Vicente, until I came into a picturesque canyon, shrouded in fog. I parked my car and ventured on foot to photograph the trees and the architecture in cool, refreshing tranquility.

I walked up East Rustic Road where there was, indeed, rusticity in nature and architecture. I stopped on the sidewalk along the street and beheld the glory of clouds coming down from the hills. All around were birds and flowers, fragrance and song.

And then, suddenly, a shrill voice yelled at me, “Why are you photographing mailboxes on this street!” 

Dazed, stunned, I was speechless. 

Who the hell was screaming at me? I looked around and an old woman came out of a garage of a house.

“I was driving up the street and saw you taking pictures of all the mailboxes! What are you doing here!” she demanded.

Now pissed off that I was being interrogated, and my right to walk and photograph on a public street was being infringed upon; appalled at her lying and false charges; I talked back. I said something like who are you to ask me? Did I need a permit to take a photo? Did I need to ask your permission to photograph a cloud?

“I have a right to know!” she screamed again.

Then an old man (her husband?) came out the front door and yelled, “If you don’t get off our street we are calling the Santa Monica Police!”

Not eager to incite, I walked away.

My beautiful, serene, moment of enjoyment was spoiled by these two irrational people.

I vowed that one day I would come back here and shoot photos again, perhaps some portraits of an actor.

This past weekend, nine years later, I did just that. Without incident.

Model: Cheyne Hannegan

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