Bruce of Los Angeles (Bruce Bellas) for many years attended the Calgary Stampede rodeo in Canada to photograph the cowboys. In 1974 while there with his favorite model, Scotty Cunningham, he unexpectedly died of heart failure. He left his estate and his home on Kensington Road in Los Alamitos, CA, to Scotty, who had no interest in running a studio or maintaining the house. He sold both the house and the business assets to Bruce’s longtime friend Kent Schlesselman.
Kent and Bruce had often worked together on Sundays making prints in the darkroom. The images Bruce printed himself were processed in his home darkroom and hung up to dry in his garage. They are bordered prints which often bear one of several Bruce stamps. Bruce and Kent often filled orders on the weekends, sometimes with the help of a model like Blackie Preston (who might also do chores like mowing the extensive lawn around the corner property). Many of Bruce’s outdoor shots of models on a green lawn were taken in his backyard. For fun, Kent and Bruce made the “milk run” from Long Beach to Terminal Island many times.
When Kent bought the estate he moved into the house and re-named the studio Kensington Road. He offered the nude photos that Bruce had taken but had never sold. Kent made borderless 5x7” and 8x10” prints from Bruce’s original negatives on the best semi-gloss double-weight paper. He made a great effort to have prints made at the best lab available and he would insist that any imperfect ones be done over. Kent believed that Bruce’s work deserved the very best presentation.
After several very successful years Kent sold the studio to Wayne Gardner who was not able to sustain its success. In turn he sold the Bruce negatives to Jimmy Dolinsky in New York who put together the first book of Bruce’s work. These negatives are now housed in the Mapplethorpe Foundation archives. It is said that more negatives are in the collection of the reclusive Fred Koch.