Los Angeles is home to miles of picturesque coastlines, vast landscapes, and unique street culture. The city is made to entertain with carnivals on piers, gorgeous beaches, and an abundance of different styles of art everywhere you go. If you plan to visit Los Angeles you’ll find no shortage of places to point your lens at and capture a beautiful city full of diversity. Here are 10 of the best places to photograph while visiting the famous City of Angles.
Griffith Observatory first opened in 1935 and is now a very popular Los Angeles landmark. It sits atop Griffith Park on Mt. Hollywood and offers unobstructed views of Downtown L.A., the Pacific Ocean, and the well-known Hollywood Sign. This location is the perfect spot to catch an L.A. sunset and even check out an array of space and science-related activities.
Santa Monica Pier
This is a terrific location for a beautiful Southern California sunset photo. The Santa Monica Pier, situated at the end of historical Route 66, is a popular landmark and tourist attraction that stretches out into the Pacific Ocean. It houses the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel that stands at 85 feet tall and creates a colorful silhouette during the evening hours. You can capture the scene anywhere along the sand on Santa Monica Beach.
Venice Beach Boardwalk
If you’re visiting the Los Angeles area, then you owe it to yourself to take a stroll along Southern California’s number one tourist attraction, Venice Beach. This is a great spot to capture some of L.A.’s culture because the boardwalk is unique with its diversity of people and their expressions of character. From mimes to musicians, to jugglers, and break-dancers, you’ll be sure to take a lot of fun photos of L.A.’s very own locals.
The Old Zoo
When the L.A. Zoo opened its current location in Griffith Park, the former zoo was abandoned and converted into a picnic area. You can stroll along a half-mile trail though the picnic area and past old animal cages and exhibits. It’s by far one of the strangest ruins in Los Angeles as well as L.A.’s best off-the-beaten-path attractions. This location creates a unique and spooky atmosphere to take photographs of former “habitats” of Los Angeles’ zoo animals or create a unique backdrop for portraits.
Hermosa Beach Pier
The Hermosa Beach Pier offers vast views of the beach and the Pacific Ocean making this an ideal spot to photograph. You can take pictures of everything from glowing sunsets to some of the best surfers in the world here. It’s also situated right in-between Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach, making it a convenient spot to access all three piers.
Ascot Hills Park
Located just east of Downtown L.A. is Ascot Hills Park, one of the newest outdoor areas in the city. It opened its gates in 2011 and offers canyon scenery and multiple trails to go hiking along. On clear days, you’ll see views of the Hollywood Sign, downtown L.A., Catalina, and the infamous LAX airport.
The Hollywood Sign
The nine white letters that spell out the city’s name is a landmark that’s well-known throughout the world. The Hollywood Sign is a universal metaphor for success, glamour, fame, and ambition, and it’s also a popular photography subject. You can get amazing views of the sign if you hike along trails that wind through the Santa Monica Mountains. Taking photos of the sign after the sun goes down also makes for a great photograph of the letters illuminated by their flood lights and the city lights surrounding it.
Note: The view above is seen from Griffith Park, which is located around Griffith Observatory, the first location we mentioned in this article.
El Matador State Beach
A favorite beach to visit on the coast of Malibu is El Matador. After a scenic drive along the Pacific Coast Highway you’ll come across this gem that gives you an interesting landscape to photograph. With large monolithic rocks that stand tall in the water and massive boulders that sit on the white sand, this is an excellent place to capture one of Malibu’s stunning beaches.
Urban Light (LACMA)
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art features 202 restored street lamps from the 1920s and 1930s. Most of them once lit the streets of Southern California. They’re organized into a grid giving them the appearance of a forest of lights that can be wandered around by visitors.
LACMA is also an incredible place to take wedding and engagement photos. However, be warned that you’ll face lots of crowds or need lots of Photoshop to get a clean shot without tourists in the background of the photo. Here’s an example from Lin and Jirsa Photography. For more locations for wedding and engagement photography, see the full list at Wedding Maps.
4th Street Bridge
To get a great view of downtown skyline of Los Angeles, visit the 4th street bridge. This is a perfect location to capture long exposure shutter drags of the traffic below on the freeway and also on the bridge itself. See the example image below.
The Flower Fields
Although not in Los Angeles, you can drive 2 hours south to visit “The Flower Fields” in Carlsbad and experience the vibrant display of flowers during the spring months of March to May. It sits right along Interstate 5 and features fifty acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers that make up the bed of colors announcing the Spring season in Southern California.
If you decide to visit the fields above, be sure to respect the blooms and stay off of the flower beds. With the influx of visitors looking for the perfect image for their Instagram, the flower beds have sadly been destroyed in many areas.
Los Angeles is a massive, diverse county with many photo opportunities. Bring your creativity, travel light, and have fun exploring!