Hollywood has seen its fair share of success stories, it’s true. And you’ve probably read all about them — the people who were willing to risk it all to follow a dream, who one day left everything behind and headed west. They’re the ones who showed up at the edge of the continent, with the few belongings they kept clutched in their arms, just waiting for their big break.

Meet David Repola.

Though the Los Angeles-based photographer didn’t flee a Midwestern town in the dead of night to become an actor, he’s still standing on the California coast, chasing his dream.

But to really get to know David, we first have to rewind a bit.

David was born in Burbank, California, just 10 miles north of Downtown L.A., where you’ll find studios like Warner Bros., Disney, and Nickelodeon. David’s father was a Marine. As his son, he quickly identified with the motto: “If you’re willing to put in the work, there will be no shortage of opportunities that present themselves.”

As David was forced to move from town to town while growing up, he kept this phrase in mind, and held it especially close when he was deployed to Afghanistan as a member of the United States Army Infantry in 2012.

After graduating from high school, David joined the army, admitting that his father’s profession rubbed off on him. But after a serving overseas for seven months, David decided it was time to move on.

As a retiree in his early 20s, he started searching for a new way to expend his energy and put his driven work ethic to good use. Doing so in such a colorful and artistic city led David to photography, an avenue that has forced him out of his comfort zone more times than he can count and provided him with endless room to grow.

He’s naturally connected with other like-minded creatives around the city — for example, Michael Steric was one of David’s first friends in the community, and the pair continue to push one another to test the limits of their photographic skills.

But Repola’s images stand out because of their dream-like nature — a mixture of bright lights and otherworldly colors — which is especially fitting for a place like L.A., a city where the unobtainable always appears to be obtainable.

David never grows tired of Los Angeles, as it is a city built by dreamers, for dreamers. There’s always something new to seek and new neighborhoods to explore. No matter where he travels in the world, David is more than happy to call this place home.