"Souls of Santa Ana" Captures the Stories of the City's Residents

Santa Ana artist Alicia Rojas captured by Anabella Pritchard
Santa Ana artist Alicia Rojas captured by Anabella Pritchard
Anabella Pritchard/Souls of Santa Ana

If you frequent SanTana enough, you might've already caught photographer Anabella Pritchard snapping photos and collecting stories of local residents for Souls of Santa Ana, her new project profiling the people of the city (much akin to the popular "Humans of New York").

Orange native Pritchard began approaching people in Santa Ana to photograph them when she also began collecting their stories by accident. Wanting a more "official" reason to continue profiling subjects, she made it official and started a Facebook page that would be the home of Souls of Santa Ana.

"I always sensed people in Santa Ana were kind and friendly, but maybe there could be a sense of reservation," she says. I was expecting people to hold back a little [when approaching them for photos] but the outpouring of support has been touching. I feel embraced by the people I approach."

You might be familiar with some of the faces Pritchard has captured. One profile is on Santa Ana-bred poet, artist, and photographer Ithaka, who has photographed Oliver Sacks, N.W.A., and Brian Wilson, and is working on an insect photography project. Another is Colombian-born artist and photographer Alicia Rojas who works with Santa Ana Community Artist/a Coalition and was part of our 2013 People Issue. Musician and poet Theo Hirsch is also a profile subject, whom Pritchard describes as the city's "favorite l'enfant terrible."

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Drawing influences from Helmut Newton, Joel-Peter Witkin, and the poems of Sylvia Plath, Pritchard's style is dark with a film noir touch. For each photograph she takes of subjects, the colors are less saturated and some are even slightly faded. While the photos' style provokes mystery, the stories that they go with elicit vulnerability and a sense of connection. Irony at its finest.

From working on this project, Pritchard says she's found the soul of Santa Ana to be palpable. "People here are incredibly passionate--about their careers and the city. There are so many creative people; everyone I speak to has a fascinating project they're working on. And there are so many activists--people fighting for the rights of others. There are thousands of stories of triumph and loss."

For now, Pritchard says she wants to collect as many stories as possible--starting with those on a long list she keeps for the project.

Email: khoang@ocweekly.com.

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