In the March 2012 issue of Los Angeles magazine on newsstands now, local real estate broker Ed Rosenthal reveals what happened when he went missing for six days in Joshua Tree last summer. Here, Los Angeles magazine photo editor Amy Feitelberg explains the deeper meaning behind the hat that was photographed for the feature, plus why it couldn’t leave Rosenthal’s side:
When I learned we were doing something on Ed Rosenthal, who had been lost in the desert in the middle of last summer, I was a bit apprehensive about how we would use photography to illustrate this story.
I knew that if we went and photographed the area where he got lost, it would just look like an empty landscape, not the scary abyss that had him discombobulated.
Sure, we could have shot a standard portrait, but Ed is fine and healthy now, so that might have turned out looking like a photograph of any regular guy, when what happened to him was a real life-and-death experience. His is true tale of survival, and I had to ask myself how to show that to our readers.
Then I found out that while he was lost in the desert, fearing this could really be the end of his life, Ed took the pen he had and wrote his last will and testament on his hat! What could be a more visual representation of his desperation than that?
I decided we should photograph the hat. I originally planned to send it to be shot in New York, but I was informed by Mr. Rosenthal in no uncertain terms that he wouldn’t be separated from that hat even for a few hours, never mind allowing the magazine to send it across the country. That’s when I thought of Hacob, a local photographer who creates beautiful still life images.
Hacob usually works in his studio with objects. For this assignment he had a hat and an Ed Rosenthal waiting patiently for hours. When Hacob was finished, Ed took his hat back and rode off into the sunset.