Photographer Lloyd Pursall Captures L.A.'s Young Creatives

Lloyd Pursall Debut Exhibition 2 - Publicity - P 2017
Austin Nelson/

Thursday night's exhibition at Hubble Studio celebrated the city's renaissance as a hub for artists.

Twenty-six-year-old photographer Lloyd Pursall held his first stand-alone exhibition at Hubble Studio in the up-and-coming downtown L.A. Arts District on Thursday night. To Live and Try in L.A. was a glimpse into the struggles and successes of creatives carving out their space in Los Angeles, echoing the artist’s own experience — Pursall was raised in small-town Wales before moving stateside in 2015.

For the main installation, Pursall spent the past year shooting his circle of friends — a vibrant mix of models, dancers, musicians, designers, DJs and other creatives. The result was an intimate show of 19 portraits, which were blown up and suspended from the ceiling at Hubble. “I realized this year that my signature style is people, and extending my real-life connections is how I really like to engage with people through my art,” Pursall told THR.

Smaller mixed-media installations dotted the warehouse, including a gold-colored shopping cart filled with oranges, inspired by a trip to L.A.’s Pinata District, and a giant multicolored parasol emblazoned with the words “We’ll figure it out.” The event, sponsored by Asos and B&O Play, also included a live photography studio where Pursall shot his signature portraits for guests.

To Live and Try in L.A. showcased a diverse set of subjects posing at rugged locations all across the City of Angels. It was markedly less glamorous than his gigs for leviathans like Nike and Calvin Klein, but Pursall wanted to showcase his inner circle on their most authentic terms.

“It’s really important to me that I don’t exploit anybody in a photo,” said Pursall. “I want people to look at a photograph I’ve taken of them and feel good about themselves. It doesn’t have to be the most glamorous shot, but if it empowers them in that way, then I’ve done a good job.”

Pursall lists Moonlight star Ashton Sanders as a frequent collaborator. The photographer first shot Sanders during the memorable 2016 Academy Awards, but he said the two linked up because of their shared tastes. “[We made] connections through commercial work, but then realized outside of that we’re actually really compatible creatively,” said Pursall.

Sanders, a darling of the fashion and art world, has posed for i-D, Wonderland, Paper and W, among others. Although he couldn’t attend the exhibition, Sanders told THR what attracted him to Pursall's work.

“I think this guy is a great creative. I feel like Lloyd makes it super comfortable for me. I think our work together is a reflection of our friendship, which is why we are able to collaborate so freely.”

Aside from bigger names like Sanders, Pursall wanted his exhibition to pay homage to creatives working under the radar, who he believes are at the forefront of an artistic renaissance in the city. He explained, “I want to show this level of equality between them, whether they’re well-known or not known at all. Together as a collective, they’re the next wave of culture.”