Nana Takes LA
Monday September 12th, 2011
Twenty two years ago, Kelly Fajack shot a few nude portraits in public. He thought the images were strong but hadn’t been compelled to do any more, that was, until he met Nana.
Kelly first saw Nana on the streets of Los Angeles. In his entire career he has only ever approached two women on the street to take their photograph. He never wanted to be that guy, the “I’m a photographer, let me take your picture” type. However, Kelly couldn’t resist asking Nana if he could take her portrait. The two have been friends since that first shot.
Nana’s spunk and confidence inspired Kelly to create a new series of nude portraits around LA landmarks. He asked her if she would be willing to let him photograph her in the nude throughout the city. She replied, “Absolutely!” So the two set out to take LA.
Kelly was slightly wary of the project knowing they would have to get in, get the shots and get out as quickly as possible as it’s, of course, illegal to run around Los Angeles completely nude. Getting each shot was nerve-wracking for Kelly, but not so much for Nana,
She’s unbelievably cool, comfortable, and confident. It must be from growing up in Ghana. I wish I could say the same for myself on these shoots. I’m not looking to get thrown in jail. When we were shooting the “Compton Blvd” sign a cop pulled up in the intersection. He pointed at me and turned on his lights but because of the traffic he couldn’t get to me and we got away.
My favorite artist has always been Man Ray. He said it’s not a crime to steal for arts sake so I’m sure he would include photographing public nudity. I’m sure the judge will buy that. I wish someone had been filming all these shoots, it would be a very comical behind the scenes documentary.
For each shot the duo would rush to get 3 to 5 images in the morning or in the afternoon. They worked fast to avoid gawkers and police.
It’s only been Nana and me for every shot but the one at Pink’s Hot Dogs where I got a friend to hold her coat. The people in their cars on La Brea went crazy. The people ordering hot dogs didn’t even notice. A crew of three would have been a big help. A look-out and a get-a-way driver and someone to hold her coat.
The photos tell an interesting story of the the city and even though it was risky business taking them, it was all worth it in the end. The response to the series has been “unbelievable.”
They really seem to put a smile on peoples faces. I like that. Stern Magazine out of Germany just put them up on their website. Women are contacting me to do commissions. Galleries in four different countries are interested in doing a show. I haven’ t said yes to any of them yet, but I will soon.
So what’s next for Kelly and Nana? Currently they’re working on a fine art film about 50 women waking up in LA. They’re also hoping to expand the nude series to Paris. So be on the lookout for Nana Takes Paree!
You can view the entire Nana Takes Los Angeles series on Kelly’s site.
- Maria Luci