Felipe Esparza, A Sense of Place

If you've never been to Aliso Village in Boyle Heights, you never will. It’s gone. Google it. You can read about it and find old pictures of it, sure. But only a person that grew up there will ever know what it was like. I had family that grew up there. We’d visit often. So even though I never lived there, I still experienced it, and can recall a sense of the place. Comedian Felipe Esparza grew up there and when I see his stand up comedy I get flashbacks of being there.


“Sense of place…is a combination of characteristics that makes a place special and unique. Sense of place involves the human experience in a landscape, the local knowledge and folklore. Sense of place also grows from identifying oneself in relation to a particular piece of land on the surface of planet Earth.” --The Art of Geography


A few weeks back Felipe came to my home studio for a photo shoot. We also went under the 6th Street bridge and Hollenbeck Park. Since we are only a few years apart we shared a lot of the same cultural happenings of the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. We spent a few hours reminiscing about each other's street traumas but definitely feeling that separation between those days and now.

Felipe Esparza is now a nationally recognized celebrity selling out houses all over the country and touring overseas. His particular brand of delivery couldn’t come from anywhere else but his own life experience. He is a genuine one-of-a-kind.

This is the first set of photos from what I hope becomes a lifelong series of photographing comedians. Click on the images to see them full size.