Christian Thomas sits in a low armchair in his loft while his three-year-old daughter playfully climbs around him and plops in his lap. To the left of Thomas, a wall of 20-foot windows brightens the space and peers out to the Thomas’ front yard: Main Street in Downtown LA. The loft, once primarily acting as Thomas’ photography studio, now also houses Thomas, his wife, daughter and dog Jimmy and has done so for the last year and a half.
Exposing his age, Thomas learned to shoot and perfect his images on film. He learned the art of photography in a time when mistakes were not easily fixed and the words “digital remastering” and “Photoshop” had yet to exist. For the last 15 years Thomas has spent his time mastering photography, almost making it with his band The Sea of Cortez and even helped open a few nightclubs in San Diego. Today, his photography pays his bills but he still manages to exude a musician’s edge while saying things like, “Yo Gabba Gabba is awesome.”
Although the city has recently taken to cleaning the streets and added parks, many still hesitate to start a family in a place that always has a bar within walking distance. However, the city lends to Thomas’ creativity and makes for the perfect location for his photography, where he works for startups and corporations alike.
Almost a decade after he moved from New Jersey to Southern California, Thomas says living in Downtown is, “the most comfortable I’ve ever been on the West Coast.”
While it can be easy to assume a Downtown LA photographer would specialize in cityscape shots, Thomas, instead, draws his artistry from the lighting that pours into his studio on a sunny LA morning.
“The city itself is an inspiration,” says the New Jersey native. “Walking down Broadway at 3 am is my favorite thing.”
Thomas’ images range from portraits, to designer handbags, to fashion glam shots, to food, to macro pictures of dead insects.
Despite his sense of belonging in Downtown, Thomas mentions the issues the city has with family-friendliness. Of course the city presents the most textured of personalities within its streets, but Thomas says that’s hardly the problem.
“I’m coming into their world,” he mentions. “You want to be respectful of what Downtown is, the good and the bad. I love that Downtown is dirty.”
What Thomas finds less charming are instances like the time he and his family, along with another Downtown family, were once turned away from a concert in Pershing Square because they had kids. Even the simple act of admitting his daughter into a dance class poses a problem in the city because the class has yet to reach the minimum amount of required students: six.
Living in Downtown garners its perks and pitfalls but Thomas is happy to call this place his home. He looks forward to the city opening its arms to more families and in the new year, Thomas’ wife will give birth to another child, making Thomas’ Downtown LA family a little larger.