Today’s #Photowalk takes you to downtown Los Angeles, or DTLA as it’s called, to show where, when and how to see the best of the area through photos and videos. We believe that postcard visits are the best way to travel–hopefully we can help you get images that are postcard, or Instagram worthy.
DTLA isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think L.A.–hello Hollywood, 90210 and the beaches, but it’s well worth exploring, with both the new (Disney Hall and Broad) and very old (Philippe’s Original and Union Station are both over 100 years old.)
It all begins here, at Vista Hermosa Park, home of the iconic park bench with the killer view of the L.A. skyline. Address: 100 N Toluca St, Los Angeles, CA 90026.
Disney Hall and the Music Center are right around the corner, so this is a great place to start. Also, an added bonus: free parking.
After Vista Hermosa Park, head over to Disney Concert Hall, and look for parking within the building, which has the best deal in town–$9 flat rate on weekends. Most lots charge $20, cash only, Disney accepts credit cards, and it’s a great central spot for walking to the Broad Museum, MOCA, the Central Library, the Skyview overhead look and the Grand Central Market on Broadway.
111 South Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
As I show in the video, capturing a good shot of Disney Hall can be challenging. You’ll get the whole building in from across the street, but it will be littered with street lamps, power lines and cars. I like standing directly in front, and out of the way of the said distractions, for the shot.
(221 S. Grand Avenue,)
A new addition to DTLA, is even more challenging to photograph, because it’s so large, an entire city block, and pretty much impossible to capture in one image. (Even with a wide angle lens.,)
Our tip here: Stand at the crosswalk. You’re not going to get the entire building, of course, but the entrance gives a sense of place to your photo. And a selfie opportunity!
250 S. Grand
The Museum of Contemporary Art, is directly across the street from the Broad, and easier to capture. I like the giant sculpture in the garden which just screams “art museum.”
630 W. 5th Street
There are rows and rows of great old murals and sculptures at the library, which are cool to photography. I like to zoom in on some of the classic carvings outside.
633 N. 5th Street
That’s the view from 70 stories up, as seen from the deck of the Skyspace Tower, atop the US Bank building. It costs just over $20 to get up there, and if so inspired, you can also go down a slide from one story to the next.
You’ll be shooting outside windows, so watch our for glare. I like seeing the city at night, all lit up, so evening would be my choice as the time to get up there.
Broadway District, between 6th and 1st
Here you will find the historic old movie theaters from 100 years ago, sadly closed, jewelry stores, a bustling collection of shops aimed at local latinos, selling everything from Quinceanera dresses to low cost clothing, a shop that specializes in cutlery, the historic Bradbury Building and the big Grand Central Market.
304 S. Broadway
Over 100 years old, you may have seen the building in the original Blade Runner, or the Amazon TV series Bosch. As a tourist, you won’t get any further than the first deck, and your shot is a wide shot of the building. It won’t win you any awards, but it’s right across the street from the theaters and the market, so you’ve got to stop in and take a look.
317 S. Broadway
Also over 100 years old, the market is a melting pot of Los Angeles, with every type of food you can imagine. It’s more a eating establishment than a market, although you can certainly buy fruit. Photo wise, lighting is dark in here, both during the day and in the evening. Get a good wide shot of the crowds, zoom in on the neon signs and memorialize it with shots of tacos, pizza, cheese or whatever strikes your fancy.
350 S. Grand
Finish up your trip to the market by parting with $1 and going back up the hill to your car on the Angel’s Flight railway, the shortest railroad you’ll ever see. (The alternative is walking up a flight of stairs that will take you all of five minutes.) Get a photo of the train itself, and then once inside, switch to video mode for a moving shot of the ride up.
200 N. Spring Street
If you watched TV in the 1950s, you know City Hall as the place where Clark Kent worked at the Daily Planet and changed into his Superman costume, or where each episode of “Dragnet” opened with an image of City Hall and the narration, “This is the City.”
City Hall is one really tall building, and the best to capture it without distractions is to go to City Hall Park, directly across the street from rthe Main Entrance, and get a wide show from there.
800 N. Alameda Street
Billed as the last of the great train stations, you can get inspired just walking in and experiencing the Art Deco masterpiece that is Union Station. Interior shots are best here during the day, when you can take advantage of the massive amounts of lights seeping through the giant windows. (See this classic wedding portrait I did for a young couple a few years back.)
In the evening, light is minimal, but the exterior is adorned in cool purple light, so you’ll want to check that out.
1001 N. Alameda
Philippe’s is said to be where the French Dip sandwich was first seen back in 1908. 110 years later, it’s still thriving, as you can tell from the crowd shot above. Yes, it’s that way often.
Photo wise, I’m all about the interior and characters, as capturing a roast beef sandwich and making it look appetizing is frankly beyond me. But good luck trying!
216 S. Alameda (roughly)
This little haven of art galleries, trendy shops and craft breweries is just 1.2 miles away from tony Disney Hall and the Museum of Contemporary Art, yet with a more urban, gritty feel. And where else but the Arts District will you find some 100 murals over converted factories and storefronts?
Best photo tip: the Arts District makes one hell of a great backdrop for a portrait session. Watch the video below for some ideas.
Pueblo Historical Monument and La Placita
Considered the oldest street in Los Angeles, Olvera Street is a recreation of the way things used to be. In reality, it’s a crowded slice of shops, restaurants, museums and things to buy. And the people there are tough on cameras. I was told I could photograph on my iPhone 8 Plus, but not on my Sony, or even the GoPro.
877 S Figueroa St
Another L.A. institution, in the same building since 1950, is known for 24 hour service, all day breakfasts and large crowds that gather outside waiting to get in. Photos: the crowds, the scene, the food.
1111 S. Figueroa
The home of the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, Kings and an occasional concert, Staples is a great place for a sports selfie.
800 Olympic Blvd
Adjacent to Staples, L.A. Live is an entertainment complex, a collection of upscale restaurants, movie theaters and a theater that comes alive at night. As you can see from the picture above.
And that’s our Photowalk through Downtown Los Angeles. I hope we gave you lets of great photo ideas for your visit. Be sure to check out our L.A. in 1 Day video, which takes you from LAX to Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Griffith Observatory in a morning, afternoon and evening.