Alexander Lombardi has worn many hats in his life — literally.

“I think this probably started with watching The Godfather in college or something, but instead of being a tragic phase, it just stuck,” he recalled. “When it comes to photography, hats can work better than a lens hood when you’re fighting off flare.”

For more than a decade, Lombardi had been a staple on Hollywood sets large and small as a still photographer, stealthily weaving through camera operators and boom microphones to get the shots that tell the story of the show.

But while the job called for blending in and staying out of the way, landing a gig on a film required standing out.

“When I started photographing for work, I needed a logo, but like most photographers, my drawing sucks,” he said. “[One day,] I took a vintage Stetson Custom V, stuck it on top of a Rollei 35, took a photo, traced it in photoshop and my logo was born.”

His practical attempts at a quirky logo might have ended there if it weren’t for an early morning encounter during an on-location shoot.

“The cinema camera was sitting there in some nice dawn light, set up well before the scene was ready,” he said. “So I put my hat on it and took a photo.”

What began as a boredom-killing exercise soon evolved into a multiyear experiment in anthropomorphism that became Hats On Cameras. Using angles, focal lengths and available light, Lombardi teased out a range of emotions from these otherwise inanimate workhorses of modern cinema.

“[The] series was first about collecting different types of cinema cameras, then about commemorating the job I was on, until finally becoming more minimalist with the bold color shots you see in this gallery.”

About this image: “Hats on Cameras 009” by Alexander Lombardi; Los Angeles, California, 2021.

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