McCadden Place/Yuca Street. Los Angeles, CA. August ‘13.
briargill asked: Hey I'm enjoying your photos from cali. I'm actually heading to LA on sunday! What was your favorite area to shoot?
Thanks. Hopefully it won’t be too cloudy when you’re down there, but even if it is, at least it won’t be scorching hot.
Los Angeles is a very interesting place to shoot in because of the diverse range of environments to photograph in, all of which is thinly woven together through a network of messy and chaotic freeways and boulevards (and increasingly, rail transit). It’s also a city of many faces; you’ll get a completely different impression if you skip Hollywood and go straight to the Fashion District. That impression is probably more of the real L.A. than the Hollywood and Highland Center could ever be.
L.A. is a very messy city and has a very hodgepodge-y urban fabric, not unlike Toronto, a city that, like Los Angeles, wasn’t originally built to be a grand, world city (like San Francisco or Montréal). So you see modern grandeur superimposed over a more charming but provincial fabric.
With that in mind, I preferred the messier and somewhat chaotic parts of L.A. best, as well as places that evoke the laid-back culture that the city is known for. For that and many other reasons, Venice Beach was my favourite area in Los Angeles, by far. The boardwalk, the canals, the fishing pier, the actual beach. It was such an eclectic mix of people and not at all pretentious. It’s a place where veteran, 50 something skaters can skate with the newbie preteens and nobody judges. Even though I didn’t get to it, I’d recommend checking out Abbott Kinney Boulevard.
I also kinda liked the hipster-haven that is Silverlake (or Silver Lake, depending on your philosophical bend). It’s gentrified fast, but it isn’t very flashy. Lots of neat storefronts and patios. The best part is off Sunset, though, walking through the often hilly residential streets. Architecture is one of L.A.’s strong suits.
Downtown L.A. (DTLA) is another area I grew attached to. Sure, it is a bit underwhelming when you consider it is the supposed downtown for a metropolitan area in excess of 18 million people (if the Inland Empire is considered “L.A.” enough). But it has such tremendous potential and although I’m kind of stunned it didn’t happen a decade ago, it is slowly starting to reach said potential. I can envision a time in the not-too-distant future where hip Angelinos will be packing Broadway, Spring, Main, and other streets. In some cases, they already have; I was half expecting Joseph Gordon Levitt to pop out on Spring Street. Again, lots of great architecture and interesting crevices of activity (Bunker Hill, Grand Park, Pershing Square, Broadway, Spring/Main, and the Fashion District). The Fashion District, though a tad sketchy, is a sight to see, if anything.
I also quite liked Santa Monica, even if it was a bit more polished and touristy. From an urban planning standpoint, they’ve done a great job at maintaining the vibrancy of their little downtown. 3rd Street was surprisingly busy, even on a Monday afternoon (though this was in the summer). A block over, you’ve got Ocean Avenue and the entrance to the iconic Santa Monica Pier. Great spots for people watching and ocean views.
Even though it wasn’t my favourite area, if this is your first time in L.A., don’t forget to check out Hollywood. It may be a bit tacky, but no other place in L.A. came close to the pedestrian density of Hollywood Blvd between La Brea and Vine. Plus, Hollywood has Amoeba Records and In-N-Out (on Sunset, mind you), so it isn’t all that bad.
Pasadena is another nice area and the vibe reminded me a lot of back home in Alberta. You could easily count Whyte Ave or 17th Ave as peers to Colorado Blvd in Pasadena.
If you’re interested in seeing some grand, old Hollywood mansions, Hancock Park would be a good place to start. It can feel like you’re walking through a scene in a film noir at times. Also, it may be different in December, but I’d never seen such green lawns before. So very hypnotic.
Also, if you ever feel the need to escape the smoggy chaos of Los Angeles, head up the Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu and beyond. It’s a relatively easy escape and absolutely breathtaking.
I hope that helps :-).
St. Albert, AB. July 2013.
Meet Wally and his two daughters (one of which was visiting from out-of-province)! Wally runs the Classic Camera Exchange over on 118th in Inglewood (which I still haven’t visited).
We met at the massive St. Albert Farmers’ Market and as I was testing a potential photo out, I heard a lady from behind me say to someone, “you know I’m going to say something, right?” I knew they were talking about me and my Yashica-A, so I turned around to meet Wally and one of his daughters.
What a friendly bunch they were! We began exchanging stories and soon after, I was being shown photographs of Wally’s large format cameras, including one where he is using the modern digital camera and his daughter is pretending to take a photo under the hood of his large format camera.
Sidenote: I can’t believe it’s taken me nearly half a year to scan this one…