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Call it the Glenjamn effect. The photographer has been taking us inside L.A. parties for 20 years

In the last couple decades, a new way to measure an L.A. party has emerged: If there’s not a Glenjamn pic, did it even happen?

Documentary-style flash photography, usually taken in dark spaces, illuminates figures we all recognize — from the dudes of Daft Punk, to Pharrell and Nigo or the star skater with his own Nike. You can tell they're staring back at someone familiar behind the lens because we’re used to seeing these faces, from the worldwide famous to the L.A. famous, sporting a much more guarded vibe. In these images their guards melt off and a rare intimacy shines through. Smiles are more chaotic, the energy is messier and the mood more comfortable. Tracee Ellis Ross flips off Taco at interior designer Kelly Wearstler’s house. Virgil Abloh sits for a casual portrait with his wife and kids. Kaytranada fans himself at the afters. Nas eats cold shrimp. Call it the Glenjamn effect.

Wearing his Hunter S. Thompson-esque colored glasses and holding his 35 millimeter camera, Glen Han, a.k.a. Glenjamn, cuts his own iconic figure and is as instantly recognizable as his photography. He’s been a consistent face in nightlife and culture for the last 15 years, documenting mid aughts L.A. bloghouse culture and electronic music scenes, streetwear functions at the height of Fairfax’s golden era, fashion weeks from New York to Paris and countless festivals, raves, hip-hop and punk shows around the world. But he carries his Glendale roots everywhere. “It's a feeling that I have everywhere I go,” says Han. “Whenever I'm in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Miami, it’s the spirit of Glendale. That's why I get those photos of everyone everywhere — I just feel like home whenever I'm at these different places.”

After a transcendent experience seeing Daft Punk play Coachella in 2006, Han vowed to never stop taking photos of his experiences again. He started off as the guy who wasn’t invited, constantly having to push himself through the door. He has now become the guy who seems like he’s always been there — behind the booth mingling with the DJs, dapping up the designers at the fashion party. “I feel like if you looked through my photos, it feels like you're part of their group because I've worked really hard to be in that group,” says Han.

His new photography book, "Glenjamn," published by Just an Idea Books, curated by Sarah Andelman of Colette, is a insider-y slice into Han's late-night experiences, his friendships and his memories since 2017. “For the last 15 years, I've just been trusting my gut,” says Han. “I always have been in search of the naturally cool, the naturally funny, the naturally stylish.” The book includes photos of L.A. rapper Buddy peeking through a beaded curtain, LeBron James cheesing with Tyler, the Creator at Pharrell’s Louis Vuitton show, André 3000 with his flute, Tremaine Emory chilling, Bella Hadid goofing off. "These are the things that I like, and these are the people that I really like, more so than the talents that they possess. I get to spend an hour or two with them and then capture this photo of a moment."

Han is prolific — the book is just a fraction of his larger archive, which now includes photos that span the last 20 or so years of life and culture in L.A. and beyond. “I recognized the collective historical moments of all this stuff,” says Han. “I could see in macro how important this was because it affects more than just me.”

After his book signing in Paris earlier this year, Han brings “Glenjamn” to L.A. with a release party and art show — Han’s first — at HVW8 Art + Design Gallery on April 10. Below, he shares 14 memories behind photos that didn't make the cut in his book.

My grandma is my mom's mother. She would kind of raise me after school. I can speak Korean fluently because that was the only way to speak with my grandma. Everyone in my family treats me like a black sheep because I'm not a doctor. I have cops and lawyers and judges in my family. And they're like, “Oh, there’s this motherf—er again going to a rave in France.” I’m not the serious one. My grandma was always cool with that. She passed away a couple years ago. I would tag her on my Instagram — the Korean word for grandmother is “halmoni.” All these kids online knew about my grandma. They would come up to me at a rave like, “How’s halmoni?”

I took this at Kelly Wearstler’s house, the biggest interior designer in the world. It was a Spotify event. My forte, my thing, is that people have to be smiling back at me in the camera. And in this photo Nigo [and Pharrell are] stone-faced. But they're still taking a photo for me and I was stoked to see two legends that are stuck together in history. (And to be fair, that is Nigo’s smile.)

I went to Japan with Lee [Spielman] — he has a brand called Babylon LA and is in the band Trash Talk. I met Verdy through Lee a long time ago. I ran into Skrillex at this place called the Trump Room, which doesn't exist anymore because it closed down. It was a legendary bar with gold-plated mirrors and tables — this ornate bar. Random people would hang out. Skrillex was in town for EDC Tokyo. We're just having a drink very randomly, not knowing that we would all be in there at the same time in Japan at this bar that doesn't exist anymore. They're all from different worlds but you can see that we all get along through the connective tissue of it. I found the like-mindedness of everyone in that photo, and now everyone's friends.

This was at a soft opening of the Babylon LA store in Hollywood. The end of COVID. That’s our friend Errol [Chatham], a DJ, actor and part of Blondie Beach. He was on “Loiter Squad” with Tyler [, the Creator]. He does some acting things. I was like, “Yo, let me get a photo of you guys.” You get a glimpse of how it was during COVID, you get a glimpse of how shy Tyler kind of is — but he's pretty open with me taking photos because I've met him a bunch of times. You get a little glimpse, a snapshot of when that was in history for us.

I became friends with Sonny [Lee], who's the creator of “Beef.” I heard rumblings of it and then I saw a trailer for it on Netflix. When he got the call that he was gonna do a premiere party in Hollywood, he called me first and was like, “Yo, Glen, it needs to be you who takes the photos because you're the guy.” We talked about how we're both Korean Americans, and how this is like the Asian Met Gala. They're winners in their own right. And it's nice to see winners being aligned with winners that are Asian.

We went and met up to eat at Burgerlords. It was one of those cute, wholesome moments with Spanto that you see that he's not just a gangster. I always told Spanto: "I'm your least hard homie, is that cool?" Spanto was guilty of being a dork whenever he hung out with me.

I was shooting a boat party for this trade show, Man/Woman. Anwar [Carrots] was there with his brand new baby in Paris. Everyone's like, “He's the guy that made Carrots!” He's also a really great dad. It was a worldwide family moment. It's hard to bring a baby to fashion week, but that’s some real s—. He’s a G like that.

That was the day that I became friends with Miguel. He was working with my friend Sophie McNeill, and she brought Miguel to this event downtown. I think it was the All My Friends Music Festival. We were just kicking it and getting along. He's just a guy that naturally became a friend. And then now when I see him we're just always psyched to see each other. In that photo, Miguel is holding my video camera — I was filming with that all day.

I've been going to A Club Called Rhonda since, like, 2008. I consider them one of the most authentic parties. They have the spirit of clubs like Studio 54. It feels like a safe space.

It’s Estevan Oriol, Uncle Paulie and The Alchemist. We were at [Born X Raised’s] Sadie Hawkins. You can see how crazy we get — you can sense it by Estevan’s eyes. These guys are reserved fools. They always pose hard: Alchemist’s mean mug, Estevan’s mean mug. It’s a very candid night. Paulie’s my boy. Estevan’s one of my legends of photography — I’m just doing an extension of what he’s doing just in a different neighborhood.

That was a random party that I think Hypebeast threw at the Berrics in L.A. All I remember is, “Oh, Virgil is playing. Guillaume [Berg] is here, sick. Heron [Preston] is playing.” The three brothers that I would see all the time in that fashion world click. The funniest thing about that: As they were DJing — remember the backpack kid from the Katy Perry performance? Right after this photo was taken, the backpack kid does his dance and just kicks a full cup of beer in my face. A quintessential Glen-ass moment.

James [Blake] started doing a series in L.A. called CMYK with the people from A Club Called Rhonda. To get photos of someone like a James Blake who is pretty reserved and guarded … this was after I shot a couple of the CMYKs and he got more comfortable with me. Which is how I usually do. It feels so comfortable in this photo with him and his friend Steve Lacy.

That Kaytranada photo is from when I went to shoot a festival [from Golden Voice] called Portola in San Francisco. It was an after hours, after he played that day. I've known Kaytranada for a long time. He used to actually watch my videos before wanting to DJ, and he told me once, "I used to look at your videos [of people DJing] and was like, 'That's what I want to do.'" I caught this cheeky moment of Kaytra. He's just this kid that I knew and now he's one of the most stylish people ever. It looks like a magazine shoot rather than a crusty after hours shoot.

That was right after Kobe had passed away. I was like, "We have to go. We have to be there for L.A." I took a photo of this kid. It’s the next generation of people paying homage to Kobe even though he never saw Kobe. You see the generational impact Kobe had on L.A. and that’s forever.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.