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The best photo spots in LA
Going to Los Angeles? Get creative with your holiday snaps, with our guide to the best photo spots in the city. We show you how to capture a new take on a familiar scene at some of our favourite L.A landmarks and viewpoints.
Photographing the enormous Getty Center museum complex is both a challenge and a pleasure. On an intimate level, architect Richard Meier’s extraordinary structures offer countless options for playing with scale and form, light and shade. But take a step back and the whole of Los Angeles is laid out before you. Experiment with the verticals of the buildings and horizontals of the skyline, throw in some crowds and a bright sunny day, and you’ll soon have a winning combination of place, panorama and people.
Venice Public Art Walls
One of the best things about photographing the Venice Public Art Walls is that you can come back year after year and they’ll be different every time. The walls are a leftover from the old Venice Pavilion which stood on this site from 1961-1999, during which they were often covered with graffiti-like murals. Now, artists with permits can paint the art walls legally, and photographers can get a shot that sums up the essence of the Venice Beach scene. Find the walls just to the east of the Recreation Office at 1800 Oceanfront Walk.
Hollywood Bowl overlook
The Hollywood Bowl Overlook is one of many scenic stop-off points along Mulholland Drive as it snakes through the Santa Monica mountains. Directly overlooking the Hollywood Bowl amphitheatre it’s a fantastic place to photograph Los Angeles – day or night – with clear weather offering views all the way to Catalina Island 22 miles out to sea. The overlook is located on a very tight curve: put 7036 Mulholland Drive into your sat nav to be sure you don’t miss it!
One of the most popular tourist attractions in L.A, the Griffith Observatory offers a widescreen view of the Los Angeles Basin from Downtown to the Pacific Ocean. A good way to demonstrate the depth of this scene is to capture the observatory itself in the foreground, set against a background of city highways. Taking the shot at night helps to accentuate the gridlike perspective, as the streetlights stretch out to the horizon.
Santa Monica Pier at sunset
This classic California sunset scene just has to be shot while in L.A. The long, wide beach at Santa Monica is a postcard-worthy location, and the pier is best framed at low tide to capture its reflections in the sand as the waves roll back. Zoom in for close-ups of the famous ferris wheel, or keep it wide for a cinematic effect.
Downtown is a fabulous destination for capturing the urban LA cityscape in all its lit-up glory, with skyscrapers, headlight trails and moody night skies all contributing to the futuristic atmosphere. The neighbourhood is in the throes of a multi-billion-dollar revival and there are numerous swanky venues to choose from if you want to combine your photo session with a night out – try the rooftop bars at Perch, Standard Downtown or Upstairs at the Ace Hotel for starters. But if it’s all about getting that one perfect shot with no distractions, your best bet is to make your way up to an overpass or a bridge.
Mount Lee and the Hollywood sign
Los Angeles has multiple locations from which to snap photos of the Hollywood sign but many of them require a powerful zoom lens to get a decent shot. For a picture with a difference, take yourself up to Mount Lee which is the closest vantage point of all. Yes, your photograph will be of the back of the sign, but this only makes it more interesting. To get here, make a day of it and hike the 6.4 mile Brush Canyon Trail through Griffith Park to the summit – the route offers great views over Downtown Los Angeles and beyond and is detailed in this step-by-step guide on Hikespeak.com.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
It’s one of the most photographed buildings in Los Angeles, if not the whole of the USA, so how can you capture an image of Frank Gehry’s masterpiece that stands out from the crowd? Unless you specifically want to take a strongly contrasting photo, most professionals advise against shooting in the middle of the day, to avoid the glare of the sun bouncing off the reflective steel surface. Try coming early in the morning, at dusk, or even late at night to make the most of the softer light conditions, and try snapping a few shots with people in to get a sense of scale.
Written by Maxine Sheppard