Friday, December 17, 2010



At the end of summer 2009 I received an extraordinary email - LACMA (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) wanted to use one of my photographs on a tote bag they would sell in their gift shops and online store. The photo was an image that I had taken of Urban Light - Chris Burden's sculpture of 202 restored antique cast iron Los Angeles street lights from the 1920's and 1930's.

Although Urban Light was only installed at LACMA recently (2008), it instantly became an iconic site in our great City of Angels. Day or night, drive by LACMA and you are likely to see people strolling between the lamps and taking photos of themselves amidst the lights. It is literally one of the most photographed things in Los Angeles.

LACMA found my shot among thousands of other Urban Light photos seen in Google images. When they asked if they could use my photo, to say I was floored is putting it mildly.

I grew up at LACMA and the La Brea Tarpits. LACMA is truly nostalgic and meaningful ground to me. Some of my favorite childhood memories were spent walking the grounds with my Aunt Lisa and Uncle Fritz, eating lunch at the cafeteria, tiptoeing across rocks in the meandering stream that cuts through the park, and climbing on the giant bear and sloth statues. Then as a 16 year old high schooler learning to use an SLR in Beginning Photography, LACMA became my muse as I took my first artistic shots of the architecture and galleries using a hand-me-down Canon AE-1 Program.

I may never have work hanging in the galleries of LACMA (it's not even something I aspire to), but to have my work sold there and represent Urban Light is a thrill.

My parents were longtime members of LACMA and I have been too. That the sales of my tote bag benefit the museum in any small way gives me great pleasure.

Nearly a year after first contacting me, the tote bag began selling in the gift shops. And this week, it's finally for sale in their updated online store. So after much anticipation and excitement, my tote bag "baby" is finally out in the world and I can share this great news.

And LACMA has created a special promo coupon code for me!

Use the coupon code LYDIA10 until January 5, 2011 to receive a 10% discount when purchasing the Urban Light tote bag from the LACMA online store.

LACMA members get their 10% discount in addition to this coupon if they enter their membership number in the comment box on the order form. The membership discount will not show up on the order - but LACMA applies it when they finalize the sale.

Me posing in front of Urban Light with my tote bag.

A screen grab of the tote bag on the LACMA website.

Here's the write up from the LACMA online store.

Urban Light Tote Bag

Member Price $25.20

This great tote is supersized to hold everything you could possibly want, including a lap top. The image on the front of the bag is a detail of the sculpture Urban Light, by Chris Burden, which can be seen in front of LACMA's entrance on Wilshire Boulevard. It has quickly become a must-see destination in Los Angeles.

We asked local photographer Lydia Marcus for permission to use her great image once we spotted it on the web. Marcus is a proud native Los Angeleno and self-proclaimed unapologetic Valley girl whose photographs have appeared in JPG Magazine, Light Leaks, and AOL City Guide Los Angeles. She uses antique Polaroid cameras and contemporary digital formats to capture L.A.'s car culture and vintage neon signage.

Bag is approximately 18 3/4 square with photo on front and solid black back

- Interior zipper pocket approximately 6 1/4 inches square
- Water resistant coating inside
- Sturdy 1 1/2 inch strap expands in length from approximately 28 1/2 inchs to approximately 54 inches
- Imported exclusively for LACMA

SKU #11896

My original photo of Urban Light that started it all.
Urban Light

Another shot of me at Urban Light.
Me & Urban Light at BCAM/LACMA

Information about Urban Light from LACMA.

Chris Burden
Urban Light, 2008
Sculpture, (Two-hundred and two) restored cast iron antique street lamps

This forest of city street lights, called “Urban Light” was created by artist Chris Burden. Despite initial appearances, the arrangement is not a perfect grid. Depending on where the viewer stands, the lamps arrange themselves in different angles and arrays.

These 202 cast iron lamps once lit the streets of Los Angeles. Burden bought one at the Rose Bowl flea market, and soon collecting and restoring street lights became an obsession. He painted them all the same neutral gray, in order to draw the eye to all the different varieties of cast iron decoration.

Burden says that street lamps like these were symbols of a civilized and sophisticated city—safe after dark and beautiful to behold. The lights all still work, and they are now powered by solar energy. They are switched on every night at dusk, until 10pm. At night, Burden says his sculpture becomes transformed into “a building with a roof of light.”

Interview with Chris Burden from L.A. Times.

A glow in the dark
Chris Burden's collection of restored lamps will put LACMA in 'Urban Light.'

January 30, 2008|Susan Freudenheim

I've been driving by these buildings for 40 years, and it's always bugged me how this institution turned its back on the city," Chris Burden said the other day as he sat in a new public plaza facing Wilshire Boulevard at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Linking the soon-to-open Broad Contemporary Art Museum and the museum's original campus, this plaza is taking shape as the setting for Burden's largest sculpture to date, "Urban Light," an installation of 202 restored and fully operational vintage streetlights.

Wilshire is one of the main thoroughfares of the city, but LACMA's multiple tall, imposing and mostly unadorned facades have done little to address the endless stream of traffic that flows by, Burden noted. There's nothing like the grand Beaux Arts entry staircase that serves as a meeting place and a lure for visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. "What faces Wilshire," Burden said, "hasn't been very inviting."

The opening of the BCAM, designed by Renzo Piano to hold contemporary art, will mark a new beginning for the 42-year-old museum, and Burden, 61, hopes that his monumental installation of 1920s and '30s-era lamps will become both a city landmark and a more fitting entryway to the sprawling campus. Nearly all of Burden's cast-iron lamps once lighted the streets of this region, and their variety in a very literal way represents distinct styles that distinguish different neighborhoods -- present and past. Arranged so the visitor can walk among the fixtures, "Urban Light" is a nod, Burden said, to what a museum should be: "It sounds kind of corny, but when you walk through the lamps into the museum, it's like a pathway to enlightenment. It's symbolic."

Arranged in strict formation, with the tallest standing about 30 feet in the center at the back, flanked by others of various heights and forms, with the smallest standing about 20 feet tall, the lamps look like a platoon of soldiers ready to march. All their parts are original, collected by Burden over seven years. The bases display elaborate floral and geometric patterns, and the fluted shafts and glass globes that cap them have been meticulously cleaned, painted and refurbished to create an exuberant glow.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


John Lennon: New York City

It's hard to believe, but it's been 30 years since John Lennon was murdered. I'm now the age Lennon was when he died - 40 years old.

While most fans that mourned Lennon at the time were in their 30's and 40's, I mourned alongside them as a 10 year old in elementary school. At my school we had a pretty amazing music program and we were exposed to the Beatles music and history. My connection to the Beatles in 1980 was just as strong as any kid growing up in the Sixties. The whole school was just obsessed with their music. We were all excited that Lennon's new album Double Fantasy was about to be released and had already begun hearing the first single "Just Like Starting Over" on the local AM radio.

Sharing the Doublemint

Lennon was the first celebrity figure assassinated during my young lifetime. Attempts on the lives of President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II soon followed. All these events are seared into my memory and kind of co-exist in the same shocked place.

My appreciation of Lennon has only grown and matured over the years. I realize more and more the musical and personally political legacy that was ended way too soon.

John Lennon, Statue of Liberty, New York, 1974 Photograph by Bob Gruen.

One of the best documentaries I've ever seen on Lennon is the new film LENNONYC, airing on American Masters on PBS. Fortunately the entire film is streaming on PBS.ORG. The use of audio from behind the scenes of the Double Fantasy recording sessions was particularly insightful to me. The film's main page on the PBS website also has lots of extras and outtakes.

For Lennon and Polaroid lovers I also recommend checking out May Pang's book Instamatic Karma.

And Photographer Bob Gruen (who photographed Lennon in the iconic New York City t-shirt) has an extensive archive viewable on his website. He also has a great book John Lennon: The New York Years.

Early Years

I'll never forget you John.

- Lydia Marcus 12/8/2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

FOR SALE: 18-105mm VR, NIKON 18-70mm

Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

This is the kit lens that came with my Nikon D7000. It's completely new and unused. Comes with original box, documentation, lens hood, and soft carrying pouch. I will even give you a copy of the receipt for warranty purposes.

I already have a 18-200mm VR lens so this is just overlap for me and I don't need it.

This lens retails for between $349-369 on Amazon, B&H and Adorama. Full specs on Nikon site:

I would consider trading for Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX plus $50 cash.

Monday, December 6, 2010


BLURB has free shipping thru 12/10. Use the code FESTIVE. Now's a GREAT time to buy my book Traveling The Mother Road, Route 66 POLAROIDS.

The book is softcover, 80 pages, premium luster paper, and sells for $22.95. All the photos were shot with a Polaroid SLR 680 SE / Polaroid 600 film along historic Route 66 in California and Arizona. See classic cars & trucks, neon, road signs, wild burros & even kitsch aliens.

Check out the preview:

Sunday, December 5, 2010





Coco (aka Coconut) is a Bichon Frise / Poodle mix.

Rolly & Coco
Photographed November 2010 in Chicago, Illinois
Nikon D80 / Nikon 50mm f/1.8
© Lydia Marcus 2010 /

Friday, October 29, 2010


Traveling The Mother Road, Route 66 POLAROIDS by Lydia Marcus

In February 2009, I traveled Route 66 from Los Angeles to Kingman AZ and hit a bunch of small towns too (Oatman AZ, Amboy CA, Barstow CA, Newberry Springs CA). I photographed nearly 150 Polaroids with my Polaroid SLR 680 SE and 600 Film. I nearly killed the camera in Yucca AZ when it got wet during outdoor shooting in light rain. The camera completely seized up and wouldn't even focus. Luckily letting it sit overnight in my warm Hill Top Motel room (a historic Route 66 motel in Kingman AZ) did the trick to dry out the sensitive circuit board.

Nearly 80 of the best Polaroids from that trip have been selected for my first Blurb book: Traveling The Mother Road, Route 66 POLAROIDS by Lydia Marcus. The book features historic Roy's Motel in Amboy, classic cars and trucks in Barstow, Route 66 motels in Kingman, AZ, wild Burros in Oatman, AZ, kitsch aliens in Yucca, AZ, neon and road signs, and much much more. Check out the preview below. Books can be ordered directly through Blurb.

Monday, October 18, 2010



Digital Photo Academy offers free Lensbaby workshops around the country. Lensbaby are known for their lenses that give a "sweet spot of focus surrounded by graduated blur." I took one of the classes in Los Angeles taught by George Simian. For the three hour seminar, we were loaned Lensbaby's top of the line model, the Composer. I already own a Lensbaby 2.0 but haven't used it much. The Composer costs more than the 2.0 (now known as the Muse) - $270 vs $100/150 (plastic/glass lens) but the Composer is MUCH easier to use and offers a lot more control. With the 2.0 or Muse you have to constantly squeeze and bend the lens to focus, while the Composer allows you to twist in a focus spot and keep it there hands free. I think the Composer is definitely worth the extra dough and if it had been manufactured when I decided to purchase my Lensbaby, I definitely would have bought the Composer instead. But if you like a LOT of unpredictability and variety in your photos, the 2.0 or Muse may be perfect for you.
- Lydia Marcus








© Lydia Marcus /
Photographed October 14, 2010 in Los Angeles, CA.

Monday, October 4, 2010


7 REASONS TO LOVE L.A., originally uploaded by fotonomous.

My Stoney Point photo was featured on LAist today!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Foxy The Pom Mix

Foxy The Pom Mix, originally uploaded by fotonomous.

Foxy © Lydia Marcus /
Photographed September 13, 2010 in Encino, CA. Foxy is a 10 month old Pomeranian mix rescued from a Los Angeles shelter.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Fred_Marcus_89, originally uploaded by fotonomous.

Fred Marcus, 89 © Lydia Marcus 2010 /
Photographed September 17, 2010 in Encino, CA

Wednesday, September 15, 2010



Cali © Lydia Marcus 2010 /
Photographed September 8, 2010 in Encino, CA

Monday, August 30, 2010


slipawayposter, originally uploaded by fotonomous.

Poster image I shot for "Slip Away" starring Lauren Birriel & Michelle C. Bonilla. Directed by Tina Scorzafava.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Jon & Lyd BFF

Jonathan (my brother from another mother) and I had fun posing in this photobooth we found in the Valencia Town Center Shopping Mall. The photobooth (run by blababooth) had GREAT lighting, something I REALLY appreciated since I was sans makeup :-)

Jonathan & Lydia
August 19, 2010 in Valencia, CA

Thursday, August 5, 2010



I spent yesterday evening in West Hollywood, celebrating victory that Prop 8 (which banned same sex marriage in the state of California) was declared unconstitutional. I saw this window display on the corner of San Vicente & Santa Monica Boulevard at the American Apparel store. I just love the slogan "Legalize Gay" - funny and powerful. American Apparel sells t-shirts and tank tops emblazoned with those two words and currently they're offering a buy 1 get 1 free on their website. Now's a great time to buy!

"Legalize Gay" American Apparel Window Display
© Lydia Marcus 2010 /
August 4, 2010 West Hollywood, CA

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Madchen In Uniform

Earlier this year I shot and directed a behind the scenes extra for the upcoming Wolfe Video DVD of the 1958 remake of "MADCHEN IN UNIFORM". I also interviewed filmmaker Katherine Brooks to discuss how the original 1931 version of "MADCHEN IN UNIFORM" inspired her to make "Loving Annabelle". All three films feature a student's crush on her boarding school teacher, but in 2006, "Loving Annabelle" took it a step further to a full-fledged affair.

For a 1958 film, "MADCHEN IN UNIFORM" is amazingly bold about the lesbian content and I was quite surprised how far this German film went. Compare how Germans portrayed lesbianism on screen in '58 to how Americans did it later in '61 with "The Children's Hour" and you will be amazed how far behind we were.

Unfortunately the 1931 original is still not available on DVD. I saw it once, over 20 years ago, at an art house revival screening somewhere in Los Angeles. I consider myself very knowledgeable about queer cinema (in fact that was my specialty when I was an entertainment journalist and film critic) and I never even knew there was a remake until Wolfe approached me to do the DVD extra! So the fact that the '58 version is going to be available on DVD is utterly fantastic.

Netflix is waiting to see how much demand there is for "MADCHEN IN UNIFORM" before they buy copies of it to make it available to customers. So please save this DVD to your queue right now. Here's the Netflix link,, just click and hit save to dvd queue. Thanks! - Lydia Marcus

You can also buy the DVD for only $13.46 from

Here's the plot of "MADCHEN IN UNIFORM" according to Netflix:

"Sent to an austere, all-girls boarding school after the death of her parents, spunky orphan Manuela von Meinhardis (Romy Schneider) soon develops a sensual attraction to one of her teachers, the beautiful Elisabeth von Bernburg (Lilli Palmer). As Manuela's forbidden attraction becomes stronger, the suggestion of lesbian scandal sends the school's headmistress into a rage. Géza von Radványi's directs this 1958 remake of the 1931 classic."

And here's a description of the DVD extra:

"Includes special bonus featurette: From Manuela To Annabelle (in which director Katherine Brooks discusses how Madchen in Uniform inspired Loving Annabelle)."

Monday, July 26, 2010



As a fan of cars, Americana, and documentaries, I was drawn in by the Oscar nominated documentary short "The Last Truck: Closing Of A GM Plant" - currently playing on HBO On Demand.

The IMDB tagline sums it up as, "The inside story of the last days of a General Motors plant in Moraine, Ohio, as lived by the people who worked the line."

The plant came to a close as the U.S. economy faltered, gas prices rose, and the gas guzzling SUVs and trucks made on the GM line fell out of favor with the American public.

The documentary shows ordinary American factory workers (all with just high school educations) showing pride in their workmanship on the line, unsure of what future employment they will be able to find with their education level, and sharing stories of the wonderful solidarity and companionship they found among their GM co-workers. Sure these people just helped manufacture cars, but I really saw them as great American heroes doing the hard physical work that's responsible for building this great country and automotive industry. The film shows a cohesion and fraternity rare among women and men, blacks and whites, young and old.

Besides the dignity and pride that shows through from the interview subjects, I felt the film had a real beauty in how it captured the exterior of the plant and town.
- Lydia Marcus

Here's an interview with the filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steve Bognar.

Thursday, July 22, 2010



One year ago I adopted Cali from Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue. Happy Anniversary my sweet Cali-ente!

Here's a then (4 months old) & now (1yr, 4mo) photo. She went from just under 25 pounds to just under 50 pounds! She's smart as a whip, very obedient, an excellent retriever, lots of fun, and has NEVER chewed anything in the house that doesn't belong to her.

© Lydia Marcus /
Photographed July 2009/2010 in Los Angeles, CA

Monday, July 12, 2010


Jenni Olson

I interviewed Jenni Olson for my documentary "Desert Hearts Mon Amour" and shot this with my Nikon D80 / 50mm f/1.8 lens after we finished rolling. I thought the DGA little theater (aka DGA Video / DGA 3) was the perfect setting to interview Jenni. We both had seen many great films in that theater in the early days of Outfest.

Jenni Olson is director of e-commerce at and one of the world's leading experts on LGBT cinema history. Author of The Queer Movie Poster Book (2005, Chronicle Books), Jenni was also one of the founders of where she established the massive queer film industry resource, PopcornQ. She continues to write about queer films, as well as curating, collecting, and creating them. Her feature debut, The Joy of Life is now available on DVD. Her website is

Jenni Olson

Jenni Olson

Jenni Olson
© Lydia Marcus /
Photographed July 11, 2010 in Los Angeles, CA at the Directors Guild of America

Friday, July 9, 2010


A Tigress & A Cougar - Meowwwwww!

A Tigress & A Cougar - Meowwwww! "Momma" Dearest & Me, Outfest Opening Night Party.

Outfest has been a summertime tradition for me since 1987. This year is the 28th Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

Tickets are still available for many films, panels, and events. Go to



Photo © Lydia Marcus /
Photographed July 8, 2010 in Downtown Los Angeles

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


If you like the bad performances on American Idol you may get a kick out of me and my two friends singing a twist on the song Get Your Kicks On Route 66. We made the video for a contest sponsored by Sears called Exploring My America. We hope to win the L.A. to Amarillo Route 66 portion so we can go on the trip and have it paid for by Sears.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


My main photography website is Flash and until now has not been viewable on mobile devices, i.e. cell phones. But I'm happy to announce a new mobile version viewable on many devices including iPhones and Blackberrys.

There are two ways to access the mobile site:

1. Go to and click on the tab that says "Enter Mobile Devices Site" on the new splash page.

2. Go directly to the new mobile site at

Friday, July 2, 2010


Happy 4th of July weekend!
Lady Liberty

Photo credit © Lydia Marcus 2010 /
Photographed January 23, 2010 in Twentynine Palms, CA

Photographed with a Nikon D40 / Nikon 18-55mm

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Occasionally I contribute photos to the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr. I try and put things in that are a bit unusual, different, or that I think may pique the editors interest. Putting a photo in the pool gives LAist the right to use it on their site. I've been lucky a handful of times when LAist has used my photo in one of their daily postings. They always give photo credit and a link back to photo on the photographer's Flickr feed. I like having my photos run on LAist because they spotlight Los Angeles in a unique way and support local photographers by publishing their work to a wider audience.

On Tuesday, LAist posted the story Capturing The Summer Solstice. They not only used one of my photos from Griffith Observatory, they also directly quoted me in the article.

Quite an honor. - Lydia Marcus

Here's the story:


Monday, June 21, 2010



Today I visited Griffith Observatory to witness Summer Solstice from the vantage point of the Transit Corridor - think of it as Griffith's high tech version of Stonehenge.

Sunlight hits the Transit Corridor at 12:55pm on June 21, 2010 marking high noon and this year's Summer Solstice - the day the sun is at it's highest position all year long, also making it the longest day of the year.

This is the Transit Corridor. Laura Danly PhD (Curator of Education at Griffith Observatory) explained Summer Solstice and the Transit Corridor to observers and a cameraman from Channel 7 news.


"Like ancient monuments to the stars, the Griffith Observatory was built to create specific effects when the solar system is aligned for the solstices. On the summer solstice, for the Sun’s “local noon” appearance, at its highest position in the sky all year, the Sun’s projected image crosses the engraved meridian arc of the Gottlieb Transit Corridor on the west side of the Observatory. The solstice local noon occurs at 12:55 pm. The northernmost sunset and the end of the longest day of the year align with an engraved marker and stone line laid into pavement on the terrace. The solstice sunset occurs at 8:08 pm. For 2010, the Solstice is on a Monday when the Observatory is closed, but you can still enjoy the architectural phenomenon." (From

Some misc shots from Griffith:

A crow scares off a red tailed hawk infringing on it's territory in the sky above Griffith.


Greek Key and Arches at Griffith


The world famous Hollywood sign viewed from Griffith's front lawn.

Hollywood Summer

Hikers enjoying a local trail below Griffith.


I have a thing for signage, especially those with icons or drawings. This sign in particular is very important in light of the terrible fires that engulfed Griffith Park in 2008.

Here's a link to a Wiki article about the Solstice.

Enjoy the summer! - Lydia Marcus :-)

Summer Solstice at the Transit Corridor, Griffith Observatory
© Lydia Marcus 2010 /
Photographed June 21, 2010 at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, CA

Photographed using a Nikon D40 / Nikon 18-200mm VR lens.