OCEAN AVENUE — Street festivals, summer concerts, synchronized breastfeedings and sumo wrestling tournaments — Fabian Lewkowicz has photographed them all.
For eight years, the Santa Monica resident has documented daily the story of his city — landmarks, people and events both big and small, from folk art shows to lawn bowling games to Santa Monica Pier sunsets.
“I’m just interested in the beauty of Santa Monica, and plus, that’s what people want to see,” Lewkowicz said. “I want people to look at the pictures, kind of make them jealous and wish they were here.”
For several years, Lewkowicz said he felt the same way. He was raised hundreds of miles away from the Pacific Ocean in the city of El Paso, Texas, and said he fell in love with the California coast even before moving here, having just seen it on TV.
After moving to Santa Monica, Lewkowicz fixed himself into the community, not only doing street photography for his blog but also taking photos of Santa Monica for several newspapers, including the Santa Monica Daily Press. He has also served on many community boards, organizations like the Police Activities League and the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau.
He has even been the personal coach for many city officials in their strength and fitness training.
“He’s actually a very strong member of the community,” said Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks, whom Lewkowicz has trained in the past. “I think we’re better off because of him.”
Twenty years ago, Lewkowicz started his own private fitness studio, Fit by Fabian, which recently had its 20th anniversary.
When he was young, Lewkowicz knew from watching TV that he wanted to be like Batman, Superman and Tarzan — to have that bodybuilding physique, he said.
For years, Lewkowicz collected knowledge on the science and tricks of bodybuilding — anything from knowing that bodybuilders must tan to define their muscles more to knowing how to diet before a competition so that only muscle, and no fat, is left.
He competed and won several trophies, but more than a decade ago decided to give up competing and instead dedicate his time to teaching fitness and doing photography.
Every day, Lewkowicz makes his same trip down Ocean Avenue to the pier, but new things to photograph still pop up for him, he said. Every day, he adds a new post to his blog, Santa Monica Close-Up, which has viewers from around the world.
He said he refuses to photograph anything negative, like a car crash in the city, and instead only wants to show what people want to see — beautiful images of Santa Monica.
“His photography tells the story better than most,” said Misti Kerns, CEO and president of the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“The images that he takes of our community really reflect what the community’s all about. Many of his photos get circulated around the world, so he’s a great ambassador for this city,” Kerns said.