THE BLOG
11/04/2015 09:56 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Photos of LAX From the 1980s Show Gritty Side of Travel

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Remember the good old days of passenger aviation, when stylish travelers breezed through security and arrived calmly at their destinations, not a single hair out of place? Neither do I.

As a travel writer and native Angeleno, I cut my teeth on the travel industry during the 1980s, when my parents took me and my brother on international voyages to visit relatives, sowing the seeds for my as-yet-relentless wanderlust. My memories of LAX as a kid consist of gritty, depressing images populated by weary, anxious passengers with bags under their arms -- and their eyes. I thought I imagined the time when the bright, promising veneer of the passenger jet-age had visibly lost its luster during the Reagan era, but thanks to John Brian King's new book LAX: Photographs of Los Angeles 1980-84, I have proof it actually existed.

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Also an LA native, John Brian King graduated from CalArts with a degree in photography. He designed film titles for dozens of Hollywood movies and wrote and directed the feature, Redlands. King's book features two series of photographs: the first of LAX, and the second of LA itself. For me, the images of LAX are the most compelling, simply because they serve as documentary evidence of a past that, until now, only existed in my mind.

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The book's publisher, Spurl Editions, sums up the LAX series:

In ... 'LAX' (62 photos, 35mm black-and-white film), photographer John Brian King engaged in street-style photography in one of the city's most charged places: Los Angeles International Airport. Harried travelers, uniformed employees, and vacationers appear angered by the flash of King's camera, too bored to care, or all-too-confident in this post-industrial setting. King's series would be impossible today, as it exposes the uncomfortable chaos of airport existence before an era of obligatory surveillance.

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All photos from LAX: Photographs of Los Angeles 1980-84 by John Brian King, published by Spurl Editions.