What was it like to take photos of strangers before the internet? Mike Mandel's collection of snapshots from the 1970s might give you a bit of insight into photography before the age of Instagram.

*This is an archived article. Since 22 October 2017, LFB is only focusing on Berlin-related topics. Please check out our new platform, YEOJA Magazine, for material like this.

Back in April, Hattie Crisell spoke with photographer Mike Mandel for The New York Times Style Magazine about his series of photos taken of complete strangers in California during the 1970s when Mandel was just a 19-year-old kid. Combining his personal relationship with the automobile – “I grew up in Los Angeles and all of my experience of being in L.A. was about going from one place to the other by car,” –  and his interest in doing “something that would have a little humor to it, and maybe a little riskiness,” he began walking to an intersection located just a block away from his house and taking candid photographers of Californians in their cars.

Concerning his process, Mandel would get up close and personal, shooting with a wide-angle lens resulting in the need to stand quite close to the cars – and people – he was photographing: “It wasn’t like I was looking at them from a distance — I wanted them to respond to me in some way… I think today there might have been a lot more paranoia about being surveilled or something, but in those days it was maybe a more naïve time. For the most part, people thought it was kind of funny, and responded in a jovial way, and I had a lot of fun doing it.”

Mandel’s work from this series consisted of 75 rolls of film which he has re-examined 45 years later: “It was interesting to go back and relook at something that you did 45 years earlier, and realize that you saw things then that you didn’t really appreciate until you were much older… That’s kind of cool for me.”

Photography: Mike Mandel
Source and quotes: The New York Times Style Magazine


Rae Tilly

Rae the EIC of LFB and YEOJA Magazine. She is also a photographer and social media influencer.


  • I love how candid these photos are! It must have been something to look back through all of these photos after so long. Thanks for sharing!


    • Such a wonderful collection of photos, really captures the people and the moment! So glad you enjoyed them! | Sophie LFB Social Media Intern

  • This is super cool! I love how some people were super playful whilst others were a little more serious. This reminds me of when I was a little kid sitting in the back seat of the car, and me and my brothers or me and my friends would always wave out the windows to see who would respond to us :P -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

    • So interesting to see the differences and similarities between the people in the photos! Love the work! Glad you enjoyed it too. | Sophie LFB Social Media Intern