CNN Photos

The faces of ‘Young Hollywood’

Their youthful faces are contemplative as their eyes seem to look straight into the future, imagining the brightness of fame and fortune. Their body language is deceptively languid and inviting at the same time. The atmosphere surrounding each unique individual radiates the same quality: ambition.

This is the candid look of “Young Hollywood,” captured by photographer Hana Knizova on the streets of Los Angeles.

The London-based Czech photographer knew she wanted to photograph the young culture of LA when she first visited a couple of years ago.

“I was interested in the topic of youth and ambitions, as it's something which develops and changes as we grow older,” she said.  “Our motivation and priorities change.”

People were extremely willing to pose for the portraits. They played with the camera, looking at this as another opportunity to perform.

Knizova didn’t wait for them to pose each time. She wanted candid glimpses into the complex layers of who these people are, as well as the image they want to project.

Each shoot was a collaborative effort. Knizova would let her subjects come up with ideas for their portraits, as well as where they wanted to be photographed.

“People give you more time and more of themselves when they have a real interest in the results,” said Knizova, whose background as a model has taught her how to work with people.

Knizova plans to keep in touch with the people she’s photographed to find out where life has taken them. She’s meeting them at an intriguing point in their life, the beginning of the story, and she’s eager to know more.

“This is a very important formational stage in their life, when each of them has certain ideas about their future and goals, and it is something almost everyone can relate to,” she said.

Knizova hopes that the portraits can serve as a time capsule for her subjects. They can look back on the days when they were young and aspiring, captured exactly the way they wanted.

“Young Hollywood” remains an ongoing project for Knizova. She’s passionate about exploring the youthful ambitions that define Los Angeles, as well as finding new people to add to her series.

There’s a psychological twist to the series as well. Knizova asks each person to fill out a short questionnaire for her. She wants to know about their current situation, their aspirations and what terms like “fame” and “success” mean to them.

At first, she used the answers for her own process concerning the project. But it has become a way to help the people in her portraits realize a little bit more about themselves in the process.

“Sometimes we catch ourselves on autopilot or chasing a dream without forming some sort of context,” she said. “This exercise is both reaffirming and acknowledging of these big-picture goals they set for themselves.”

- Ashley Strickland, CNN