Portfolio: Kalpesh Lathigra
Sunday 18 December 2011
This is Westminster. Not the one with Parliament and Big Ben – but rather a city in California that chimes with locals just as regularly. For Westminster, you see, is a focal point at Christmas, when streets upon streets of homes are encased in the most over-the-top decorations, putting on a show that draws visitors from miles around.
Situated a half-hour's drive south of Los Angeles in the enclave of Orange County, Westminster is also the home of Londoner Kalpesh Lathigra's uncle – which is how the photographer was drawn there last December. "I took a semi-work vacation there with my kids and my missus. I was working on a project about motels in Long Beach, which is 10 miles away. It was blazing sunshine, but it's Christmas, and I told my uncle that I wanted to show the kids some lights. He told me about these places, three blocks from where he lived. It's famous in the local area, so it's become a bit of a tradition: every year it has to be a bit bigger and a bit brighter.
"They don't have festive high-street lights like we do: you just drive off the highway into the suburbs. And you can walk for hours and not see anyone, as everyone drives. So this seems like their way of creating the sort of community feeling we have. It's pretty full-on. Can you imagine the electricity bills?"
It's not all a winter wonderland, mind. "I went out one night to take pictures for my motel project and my uncle came to find me. 'What are you doing?' he asked. 'You're mad. Someone might shoot you because they think you're going to break into their house.' And this from a guy who grew up in Streatham! If you walk around, people think you're mad."
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 2 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
- 4 Amy Winehouse unpublished 2004 interview: ‘Ten years from now I’ll be 30, so I’ll maybe have one baby’
- 5 Dutch paedophile club to fight their ban at the European Court of Human Rights
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains