LOS ANGELES — Gil Garcetti is a man who needs little introduction in Southern California. He became a household name in the 1990s when, as district attorney, his office presided over the OJ Simpson murder trial.
Soon after leaving the DA’s office, the now 82-year-old Garcetti switched his focus to art photography after discovering he could share his unique view of the world through his lens.
The Sixth Street Viaduct has inspired Garcetti since before it opened in 2022.
“This project has given me so much energy and spirit. I try to connect it with you so that you can feel the energy and spirit that this bridge gives me. Hopefully, I’ll give it to you too. Because this is something we can be proud of that Los Angeles has. People will be coming from all over the world just to see this bridge,” Garcetti shared.
Long before the Viaduct opened, Garcetti pivoted from his law career to be a photographer. One of his first projects wasn’t far from City Hall.
“In June 2001, I left a meeting downtown, and I was driving out in the middle of the day and turned right on First Street between the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the then-being-constructed Walt Disney Concert Hall. And I saw these ironworkers. I said, ‘Whoa, look at these guys. They’re crazy. They’re nuts.’ And I always had a camera with me even when I was the DA and I started taking photographs… And that began the career,” he recalled.
Since then, Garcetti has published 11 books of his photos. One memorable job was a trip to Africa to capture the Hilton Foundation’s safe water projects. He shared how important it was to him to show the lighter moments of the trip and how water wells can transform a village.
Garcetti reflected on changing careers later in life.
“Men are wed by the title they have. If you’re a lawyer or a doctor, that’s who I am. If you leave that, people are going to look at me different. Women don’t have that issue because women, I think, are always working several jobs and trying to do different things all the time,” he said. “So I use my example: being kicked out of office. I could have gone to work at a very generous salary for private law firms, primarily handling government relations, and I really didn’t want to do that. Come on, try something new.”
In addition to his photography, Garcetti speaks at events nationwide about his art, career change and policy.
Garcetti’s newest photography book “Ribbon of Light” is now available.
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