Hollywood Streets (1979-1983)

In the late 1970s, Matt Sweeney dropped out of high school with dreams of becoming a movie maker. While working in gas stations and restaurants in San Jose, California, he found out about Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope education/training/intern program, and moved to Hollywood to pursue that. Matt wanted to work behind the camera, so he started practicing with a Nikon F2 camera, shooting Kodachrome slides. Inspired by photographers like Garry Winogrand, Minor White, and Elliott Erwitt, he set out to document the world around him on the streets of Hollywood, photographing scenes from 1979 through 1983, while hoping somehow to hit the big time. The internship never happened, and unfortunately, no production jobs materialized. At 21, Matt moved on, selling his equipment and working through college to do lab work. “I went to Hollywood to ‘make it’, but didn’t, and ended up taking pictures of Hollywood, capturing scenes of others ‘not making it’ as well. It didn’t escape me then and it doesn’t now.” Matt held onto the slides, now more than 30 years old, and has recently begun scanning and posting them on Tumblr.

Goodyear blimp passing over the Capitol Records building shot from near Hollywood and Vine. # © Matt Sweeney
Inside the bus turning onto Hollywood Boulevard. The 217 or 89 (not sure) coming down from Hollywoodland/Gower and turning onto Hollywood Blvd in 1980 or so on its way to Melrose/Santa Monica area. I rode that RTD bus for years. averaged about 3+ hours per day on it. I’d stay on until I felt like getting off and shooting and before it got much past Graumann’s Theater. # © Matt Sweeney
Curb on Hollywood Boulevard. # © Matt Sweeney
Two locals pass Mann’s Theater and a cowboy statue performer on Hollywood Boulevard. # © Matt Sweeney
Bus stop in from of Mann’s Chinese Theater. # © Matt Sweeney
Stranger I asked to pose at Hollywood and Vine, she said, “Of course dear, we are all vain.”. # © Matt Sweeney
Photo booth on Hollywood Boulevard at Whitley in front of the Walgreens by Fredrick’s of Hollywood. # © Matt Sweeney
Halloween night on Hollywood Boulevard, a samurai and a cigarette girl discuss things across from the Pussy Cat Theater playing Deep Throat. # © Matt Sweeney
Rear window car art on Hollywood Boulevard. # © Matt Sweeney
One of a series of women in red, in front of a bank window off Hollywood Boulevard. # © Matt Sweeney
The May Company at Wilshire and Santa Monica Fairfax, waiting for the bus. # © Matt Sweeney
Close up of woman waiting for bus on Hollywood Boulevard. # © Matt Sweeney
Inside of laundromat in Silver Lake as the weekend fair winds down on Sunday night. # © Matt Sweeney
The Broadway and Plaza Hotel signs near Hollywood and Vine. # © Matt Sweeney
One of the parking lots in the blocks north of Hollywood Boulevard near Musso And Frank’s. # © Matt Sweeney
Near Sunset And Western in Hollywood a man prays and walks in front of apartments. # © Matt Sweeney
Near Musso And Frank’s Bar And Grill showing “Reds” movie posters along Hollywood Boulevard. # © Matt Sweeney
Woman in front of Hollywood bank window. # © Matt Sweeney
Hollywood and Vine morning bustle. © Matt Sweeney
Hollywood Boulevard shoe store window and people on street shot while waiting for the bus. # © Matt Sweeney