5 Epic Instagram-Worthy Photography Spots in Los Angeles
Installment 1: Skylines and Night Times.
So, you’ve got your awesome Instagram feed going strong. People are loving it. 10’s of thousands of followers. Life is amazing. What’s more, you’re off to Los Angeles to enjoy the 72 and sunny with your boo and you want to kill every gram with the top spots to open up that shutter and create something your followers will love you for. But at twice the size of Chicago, with 503 square miles of land, where to go and how to get there can be daunting, to say the least. As the old saying about Los Angeles goes: “it’s a nice place to live, but I wouldn’t want to visit there.”
Fret not — I am a third generation Los Angeleno and I make it a personal mission to figure out the best locations for the best views of this city. It’s also partly my job — I’m a Los Angeles-based creative director and am often in the position of doing shoots downtown. So, now… you know a guy. I’ll be doing a series of articles outlining great places to go shoot in the big sprawl of LA. (Btw, you can also book me for a guided night tour of DTLA almost any Monday night, through AirBNB.)
Installment one here is for the cityscape views of the Los Angeles skyline to get you some dramatic night shots. Not that you couldn’t shoot these spots in the day, but night is where the jewel-esque city really starts to shine. So, let’s get driving…
Stop 1: 3rd Street Overpass
The natural first stop is just off the 110 as you head down the major thoroughfare through Los Angeles. This busy freeway passes along the west side of the city, so look up when the sun sets and give yourself plenty of time to get downtown to watch the city turn gold and light up as the sun goes down.
For directions, point yourself to Miramar St & S Beaudry Ave, park up Miramar St. wherever you can get a spot — it’s not a popular area, so parking should be pretty easy. I’ve seen pictures from the top of the building directly behind this spot, too, but good luck getting up there. There’s plenty of nice shots, though, right there on the street.
Stop 2: W 1st Street Overpass.
Only a few minutes from the first spot, set your GPS to W. 1st St and Dewap Rd. Park a little bit downhill from here, across from the fire station, grab your tripod and walk up to the south side of the road to this spot. A nice sidewalk makes it easy to set-up. Your only issue here is a shaky road from the cars that zoom by. But you can shoot in between the traffic.
Bonus Shot: It’s a good enough spot to warrant its own mention, but it’s so close to here that I’d just as soon group it together. Keep walking up the hill to the Department of Water and Power building — a local favorite for its sneak-up-on-you-and-then-blow-your-mind architecture. Also, it sports a very nice moat of water that is usable for another great night shot with reflections, if that’s your thing. And who doesn’t have a thing for reflections?
Stop 3: Elysian Overpass
This is a tough one to find, but every great LA photographer has at least 5 images from here. It’s probably the simplest and purest image you can get and the overpass is situated up high and so perfectly that all you have to do is show up. I’d seen the high-situated street from the freeway many times, but trying to get to it was a bit of a nightmare. Save yourself some headache and simply put 603–623 Park Row Dr into Google Maps (or click the link). Say hi to some of LA’s most influential Instagrammers and up-and-coming rap artists as they line up along the edge getting their shot. Be warned, though, while the locals here c0-exist with the constant flow of photographers and image-hunters, they are a bit less than happy about it. Don’t park too far from the spot and don’t wander around. Police patrol this area regularly, for good reason.
Stop 4: Vista Hermosa Natural Park
This beautiful park sits up above a soccer field. You can get up higher than this shot and there’s a famous park bench at the very top that many people like to shoot as a foreground element, but I’m partial to the soccer game and the energy it creates. But hike around, bring a picnic basket and just take in the incredible view from multiple locations as the sun sets and the lights start to sparkle. This view is especially nice for how the buildings separate from each other. Most views of DTLA have a kind of stacking effect — but here, they stretch out with space between, allowing you to pick out some details if you like, from City Hall all the way to the left to the tallest building west of the Mississippi just being completed to the right.
Stop 5: Angel’s Point
The last stop is my favorite view in all of Los Angeles (at least from the ground). It’s the trickiest of all the spots because while it’s easily-accessible by car, it is nearly impossible to find without direction, as it’s high up in the unlit, uninhabited hills behind Chavez Ravine. And putting in “Angel’s Point” will only get you part of the way there. Lucky for you, you can simply click… here. Just park anywhere in the numerous open parking spaces and walk past the unlit playground to the opening. Voila.
What makes this place so great? Well, look at it. It’s situated right above Dodger Stadium, making it an incredible place to sit during a game, while the lights glow and the crowd cheers within hearing distance. I had the pleasure of sitting up here while Vin Scully called his last game and came out to sing Take Me Out To The Ballgame. Iconic place, sure to create some iconic memories, and images. And the shots nearly take themselves. It’s so beautiful, in fact, that it is really up to you to add your own flavor to it. Put a long lens on and make the city big and impressive. Or go wide and impress with the long sprawl of Los Angeles.
Like discovering interesting shoot locations in Los Angeles? I have two other articles on the subject you might enjoy: 5 More Epic Instagram-Worthy Spots in Los Angeles and 3 Underrated Instagram-Worthy Places to Shoot in Los Angeles.
And, as always, feel free to follow along on my daily photography journey at instagram.com/joshsrose.