Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Mexican cowboys known as charros are a mournful sight as they escort a hearse bearing the body of Emelio Franco, the owner of two popular Los Angeles clubs who was killed in a home invasion robbery.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A man waits for a bus at Cesar Chavez Avenue and Soto Street in Boyle Heights.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

The desert isolation between San Diego and Calexico has been passed over by prosperity. Storefronts are shuttered and roads unpaved. For immigrants and drug traffickers this is a gateway to El Norte.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Plaza Mexico in Lynwood gives shoppers the feel of old Mexico. The sprawling commercial complex caters to a predominantly Latino clientele, but is owned and operated by a Korean American real estate developer.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A flower blooms atop thorny ocotillo cacti at the visitor center of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Ranch hand Duane Herbert has a revolver strapped to his hip as he works in Modoc County, which has the highest per capita concealed-weapons permits in California.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

The remains of a once-thriving gold mining community are the main attractions of Bodie State Historic Park in the Eastern Sierras near Willow Springs.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A woman sells souvenirs with a Southwest theme from a kiosk on Olvera Street, the historic core of L.A.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A cyclist pedals past the historic mission in Los Angeles where Spanish settlers arrived and built a remote outpost in 1781.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Friends and relatives of Kashmier James are overcome with grief at a news conference announcing a $75,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals involved in James' murder on Christmas Day 2010.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Rare rainfall produces a rainbow over the dusty bed of Owens Lake, which is dry because the streams that once fed into it are being diverted to the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Water from the Owens Valley makes up about 41% of supplies to L.A., which is more than 250 miles to the south.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Dusk descends on Tecate, Mexico, a town known to be a staging area for the smuggling of drugs and illegal immigrants into the U.S.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A cloud formation known locally as a Sierra Wave fans out over the Owens River near Mammoth Lakes.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A Mexican cowboy known as a charro leads a riderless horse during the funeral for Amelio Franco, owner of two popular Los Angeles clubs and the Rancho Farallon riding stables in El Monte. Franco also was well known as an actor who played supporting roles in movies about the Mexican drug trade.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A gun enthusiast shoots cans and bottles with a rifle at a roadside shooting range in the desert east of San Diego.


Wooden crosses in the desert mark the border between California and Mexico. Their origin long forgotten, the crosses now serve mainly as landmarks for smugglers and the U.S. Border Patrol.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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Spirit of the Old West

By Luis Sinco

It’s funny sometimes how one can catch glimpses of the Old West right here in Los Angeles, a metropolis better known as a center of modern-day pop culture. Indeed, L.A. as a western outpost and California as a wild frontier are hard to imagine.

Today, we are a polyglot of peoples living in one of America’s most populous places. We are all about cool shades and hip-hop, surfers and starlets. The names of pioneers like Sepulveda, Pico and Alvarado mean little to most people except as street signs crisscrossing the sprawl of 21st century urban America. It’s forgotten history that lawmen and outlaws like Wyatt Earp and Joaquin Murrietta roamed these parts.

Still, the spirit of the Old West persists in places like Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights, the horse stables along the San Gabriel River in El Monte, the Plaza Mexico shopping mall in Lynwood, the old Wilmington Cemetery and other unlikely locales around the region. Every so often, everyday scenes reveal visual links to the not-so-distant past.

I’ve seen it on Olvera Street and in La Placita, from Modoc and Mono counties to the border with Mexico, from the Tijuana River to Yuma —- fleeting images, captured in the digital workings of my camera before melting back into the present-day landscape.

It’s weird, but sometimes, with the scenes that I encounter, it feels like I should be working with daguerreotype.

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