Many Lenses Focused on the Essence of Orange County

M arch 18, 1:30 a.m. UCI Medical Center, Orange. A 1-pound, 2-ounce baby girl fights for her life in a cocoon of tubes and wires. March 18, 10 a.m. Watson’s Drug and Pharmacy, Orange. County old-timers Howard Watson, 81, and Duncan Clark, 76, share sodas and memories. March 18, 3:30 p.m. Asian Garden Mall, Westminster. A Vietnamese-American singer croons to a packed house of Asian shoppers. March 19, 6 p.m. Disneyland, Anaheim. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle takes on an enchanting glow in the setting sun. This is Orange County. Or, more specifically, this was Orange County as seen by 55 photographers over two days last year and collected in “48 Hours in Orange County,” a traveling exhibit of 94 color photographs that seeks to capture the drama, the flavor and the unique personality of Orange County.

On display through March 26 at the Westminster Mall, “48 Hours in Orange County” features the work of local professional photographers and offers a glimpse of virtually every aspect of county life. The exhibit is in the midst of a yearlong tour of local malls, festivals and special events through the summer.

Loren Price, an Anaheim graphic arts consultant, coordinated the project along with Stan Sholik, a Santa Ana commercial photographer, and Elaine Anderson, art director for Newport Beach-based Cycle World magazine.

“The whole concept of the project was that it be about the people, by the people and for the people of Orange County,” Price said.

“We started working on this about 6 years ago . . . after the book ‘A Day in the Life of Australia’ had just been released,” he added. “We thought something like that would go over well in Orange County. It was the kind of thing that could involve a lot of people in different ways. We just kept building from that foundation.”


The result: a massive 2-day photo shoot from midnight to midnight on March 18 and 19, 1988, that yielded 33,000 color slides of Orange County at work and play.

According to Price, the “48 Hours of Orange County” exhibit is a byproduct of the project’s real goal: a special commemorative book named for the project that will feature the best 233 photos from the 2-day shoot. (The massive editing task was handled last summer by a nine-member panel that included photo editors from Life and Newsweek magazines as well as top free-lance photographers.) Set for release this July, the book will be produced primarily by Orange County businesses and will be available in soft cover and a limited-edition hard-cover version. Organizers are seeking investors to help meet production costs.

The project has been endorsed by the Orange County Centennial Committee. Organizers of “48 Hours” plan to include a copy of the hard-cover book in the Orange County Centennial time capsule, a collection of memorabilia that will be buried on the grounds of the Old Orange County Courthouse during centennial-closing ceremonies on Aug. 1.

Most of the profits from the sale of “48 Hours” books, which are projected to top $100,000, will be turned over to a philanthropic group called Artists for Kids, which will channel funds to “organizations that help Orange County’s future,” Price said. Charities expected to benefit include Children’s Home Society, Childrens Hospital of Orange County and Orangewood, as well as the Orange County Centennial Scholarship Fund.

Many of the 55 photographers whose work is featured in “48 Hours” are members of three local and national trade organizations: the Society of Illustrative Photographers, the American Society of Magazine Photographers and the Advertising Photographers of America, Price said. To determine what should be shot when, several of them formed a committee with project organizers to create a list of about 50 locations.

On the days of the shoot, each photographer was armed with 17 rolls of film donated by Eastman Kodak and assigned two or three locations. Once those assignments were completed, said Price, they were “free to go out and burn up the rest (of the film) on whatever they wanted.”

The weekend of the 18th turned out to be ideal. The weather was clear, Little Leaguers were taking their first swings and some of the county’s last cowboys were rounding ‘em up at Rancho Mission Viejo.

Brief captions under each print in the show (and ultimately, in the book) define the date, time, location, photographer’s name and a brief description of the shot.

Sprinkled throughout the exhibit are images instantly associated with the county: rush hour on the San Diego Freeway, surfers and sun-worshippers along the coast, a small grove of orange trees. But others offer a different, homier view, such as Richard Fukuhara’s shot of a matron enjoying a snooze under the dryer at Colleen O’Hara’s Beauty Academy in Orange and Howard DeCruyensere’s two gents sharing a laugh at Watson Drug.

The county’s ethnic diversity is highlighted in several prints, such as Bruce Hershey’s shot of a comely Mexican waitress slapping tortillas, and Stan Sholik’s photo of the entertainer in the Asian Garden mall. Others pay tribute to working folks, such as Robert Earnest’s shot of two grease-covered mechanics at work in a cluttered San Clemente garage and Don Dormeyer’s print of a nubile, roller-skating carhop at Angelo’s Drive-in in Anaheim.

“48 Hours of Orange County” continues on the ground floor of the Westminster Mall (May Co. wing) through March 26. It can be seen at The City shopping center in Orange from March 30 through April 19, the Orange Mall from April 10 through 18, the Brea Mall from May 20 through 30 and the Buena Park Mall from June 1 through 12. Admission is free. Information: (714) 385-1351.