11 Mar
Estevan Oriol drops his "L.A. Woman" coffee table book

LA-based photographer Estevan Oriol has forged a career keeping things simple, and doing what he does best: capturing the world around him on film. He got his start in the early 90s as the tour manager for Cypress Hill and House of Pain, when his dad gifted him a camera and challenged him to record the world around him. He did that, did it with a particular style unlike any other, and unknowingly a career was launched. Since, his photos have graced the pages of Rolling Stone, Details, Mass Appeal, The Source, Vibe and more. Beyond running his own brand, Oriol directs videos (such as Murs’ upcoming “The Problem Is”), is a founder of Soul Assassins, runs SA Studios and is an Upper Playground associate (the man’s busy — check out his blog). Now Estevan’s just released his first hardcover photography book titled L.A. Woman — a 112-page coffee table book full of photographs of women from Los Angeles. The title is quite apt, as many of the images give a particularly feminine and divine meaning to the City of Angels. From homegirls to car show girls to models to girls next door, from black to Asian to white to latina to whatever Kim Kardashian is, all varieties of Angelinas are well represented. For a brief glimpse check out the gallery below, and then do yourself a favor and buy it for $24.

What was your inspiration for L.A. Woman — did you start out photographing these women knowing it would be a book, or did you just photograph a lot of hot girls and then decide to do a book?
I had the photos of the women already when I was approached by Drago, they wanted to do a street culture book about latinos in L.A., but I felt like everyone is trying to molest that culture too much. He asked me what would I like to show people I shoot that people don’t know me for, so I chose to do women. I have been shooting them the whole time I have been doing photography. It seemed like everyone was shooting women the same way; I thought my style would be something different at this time.

Hit the Jump to peruse one more gallery (with shots of Redman and Game), and continue reading the Q&A with Estevan Oriol, where he discusses his days with Cypress Hill, the drama of photoshoots with jealous boyfriends, and whether or not Kim Kardashian wears a butt pad.

“For me they can’t just be beautiful — they have to have sex appeal. Right when I see them I can see that I would be able to take good pictures.”

How did you base your decision on which girls to shoot?
It had to be shot in L.A. There’s not that many people from LA it seems like, but a lot girls end up in LA for one reason or another. For me they can’t just be beautiful they have to have sex appeal. Right when I see them I can see that I would be able to take good pictures of them. It was all shot on film, no Photoshop, in the past 15 years.

What does being an L.A. Woman mean to you?
L.A. is a very different city. It has the beach; one hour away is the mountains. It has some of the richest and some of the poorest, and it has Hollywood. Anything you want to do, you can do in L.A. From good girls to porno stars. I tried to show that in the book but shoot all of them in my style.

Did anything interesting happen at any of the shoots?
Yeah here and there, cops harassing us in the street, girls coming with boyfriends or girlfriends. When they come they just sit there bored, so if that’s what they want to do that’s fine with me. I would trip out how they could sit there a couple hours. Guns and drugs. No bad drama at any shoots though.

Mixing guns and drugs seems like a surefire formula for bad drama. Were the guns just props that you brought, or were they the girls’ guns?
They were mine and my friends, all for home protection use only. The drugs were in separate situations back in the day when I use to party.

Estevan doing what he does best

You thank your wife in the book — did she give you a lot of grief over shooting naked women, or is she understanding of your work?
She was a little jealous, not so much, but at the same time understanding because she knew it was one of my dreams. She likes that it was one more thing that I talked about and it became a reality; she’s proud of me and can’t wait to see my next book.

How did Kim Kardashian become involved? Do you feel she blends in well with the other girls, or does her fame separate her from the rest?
I shot her a couple times. The shots from the book are when I shot her for the Famous Stars and Straps catalogue. Her look blends her in, also her fame plays a part in it because its like I said anything you want to do in L.A. you can do.

So you worked with her intimately — can you definitively dispel the rumors that she wears a butt pad?
Kim’s body is a hundred percent natural, that’s just haters doing what they do. Kim is perfect for photos and she’s real nice and easy to work with.

What drew you to photography to begin with?
My pops and his wife gave me my first camera and told me to document my life at the time, which was Lowriding and touring with House of Pain and Cypress Hill.

What was the vibe like in those early Cypress Hill tour days? I remember I saw Cypress open for the Beastie Boys way back in 1991 at the Universal Amphitheatre with Henry Rollins and it was pretty bonkers. Can you share a good story about those days that really captured the vibe?
Man the whole 13 years is a book — every state multiple times and 44 countries. There’s so many stories that might be the next book!

Fair enough, we’ll wait to discuss till that book hits shelves. So what’s the next official project for you?
I’ve just been promoting the LA Woman book here, Mexico and Europe. I have to keep working the project if I want it to do what I want it to do, otherwise it will just sit on the shelf. But in the meantime I’m working with editorial shoots for magazines, videos, my clothing companies. Fallen Tires sponsored me a Ford Flex to drive for a year. Gumball 3000 is coming up again for me and Muggs. I have a couple more books in the holding pen.

So if you were lost in a supermarket, what aisle would we find you in?
None of them — I know the supermarket like the back of my hand. I’m comfortable in a supermarket.

Some extra Estevan Oriol pics (including of the Game and Redman) mixed in with girls from L.A. Woman below…

Oriol’s signature shot

No Responses to “A Fine Interpretation of the City of Angels”

  1. mattRPRT says:

    nice piece stecher…check out the pics from a shoot we did with Estevan last week with my client Geoff Rowley and another mystery shooter


  2. Aside from the beauty of the women Estevan has photographed, what I see as most important is that he captures their character.

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