Bryn Mawr–Born Photographer Remembered for Having Captured 1960s L.A.

Julian Wasser seated at a table
Image via the Craig Krull Gallery at the Los Angeles Times.
Julian Wasser.

Julian Wasser — photographer and chronicler of West Coast 1960s life, its joys, and tragedies — succumbed to natural causes at age 89. Hunter Drohojowska-Philp reported the loss in the Los Angeles Times.

Wasser’s time in Bryn Mawr was short. His parents, an attorney father and a schoolteacher mother, relocated in his boyhood to Washington. D.C.

He was bitten by the shutterbug early, sneaking out of the house at age 12 to drive himself to area crime scenes and snap photos. The images sometimes landed on the front page of The Washington Post, leading his father to think a working photojournalist there happened to share his son’s name.

By the early 1960s, Wasser was in Los Angeles.

He captured some of the most influential events of the era and the locale, in stylish but stark black and white:

  • Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King speaking at a civil rights rally
  • The riots that decimated the Watts neighborhood
  • Robert Kennedy speaking at the Ambassador Hotel, just prior to his assassination

Celebrities were also in the mix: Jack Nicholson, Steve McQueen, author Eve Babitz playing chess nude.

Reflecting on that unique time and place, he said, “Everything you might have heard about living in Los Angeles in the early ‘60s was really true.”

More on the life of Julian Wasser is at the Los Angeles Times.


A 2017 Book Riot reviewer looks at Wasser’s published selections.

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