Believe it or not, there was a time before social media took over; when we kept intimate moments to ourselves and the friends we shared them with. When self-advertisement existed in face-form only – usually reserved for job interviews – and moments came and went without making their way onto our Facebook feeds. What feels so close and yet so far, that 'time' was less than a decade ago, when photographer Brandy Eve Allen was in her twenties and fed up with her hometown ("LA was sucking the life out of me"). Allen put out the call for a job "anywhere but here" and landed in Turin, Italy where she spent the next three years – mind the cliche, but – finding herself, capturing those that surrounded her; herself, friends, lovers. A personal memoir of a time spent amongst the most vulnerable of years, the pictures are steeped in noughties nostalgia and a brutal intimacy. "It wasn’t about anyone being beautiful, it was more about people being themselves, being honest. I’ve always been sensitive to aesthetics – beauty with a hard edge is how I would describe what I’m attracted to," says the photographer. Below we look back on the formative years that produced what is now known as her book Ciao LA.
Why did you want to escape LA for Italy? What do you think you were looking for?
Brandy Eve Allen: LA was sucking the life out of me. I remember working three jobs, busting my ass and not getting anywhere. I put the word out that I wanted a job anywhere but here and within a week Italy called me up and I was on a plane. When I landed in Turin, I felt at home like I never had. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for until it finds you, and Italy gave me a chance to experience beauty, culture, love.