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Interest in and fascination with the myriad manifestations of spirit through the physical body have influenced my work in the figurative/portrait genre perhaps all of the 28 years I have been photographing people. Whether the formality of the studio portrait (although I try to approach it with as much informality as possible) or the spontaneity and immediacy of working on location, the one goal I seek is to portray the originality and trueness of spirit in the person I have focused my lens on - without the imposition of my personality or ego. A little direction, a suggestion of and idea; perhaps, but for the greater part, it is always their originality as people that I attempt to capture on film. Often it is as fleeting as the blink of an eye; therefore constant scrutiny of the subject without becoming obvious, quick reactions, and the ability to intuit are qualifications I find important to hone, over a lifetime if necessary, in truly successful portraiture - in the studio or out.

To varying degrees the struggle to survive, to be recognized - to leave your mark - is something we all share on this physical plane and place we call earth. For me, Venice Beach is a microcosm of that Universal will and drive that is within all of us. No doubt climate and it's proximity to Hollywood have exerted their influence in some ways; mankind's basic needs and desires remain, and are fully manifested - exaggerated perhaps, but nevertheless, important factors that make up the bizarre street life that occurs in Venice Beach, California. It is a haven for free expression and the free-spirited, but always, absurdities seemingly wrapped in emotion and pathos.

Michael Sundra

March 1997