Los Angeles, renowned worldwide for its stunning scenery and iconic landmark, making it a photographer’s dream destination. The city is also host to a vast array of stunning photo spots and hidden gems offering unparalleled views of the city’s iconic landmarks and breathtaking skylines. Here are the top 7 locations to capture the beauty of Los Angeles.

Hollywood Sign from South Windsor Blvd-Photo by Jake Buckler
Hollywood Sign from South Windsor Blvd-Photo by Jake Buckler

Nestled in the affluent neighborhood of Larchmont Village in Central LA, the South Windsor Blvd offers a unique and striking view of the iconic Hollywood Sign. A testament to the timeless allure of American cinema, the Hollywood Sign becomes a grand subject in your frame, readily offering a stunning photo opportunity.

Though this spot may be lesser-known, it doesn’t compromise on the quality of shots you can get. For the best results, come equipped with a telephoto lens that offers a 5-10 degree field of view (approximately 200mm for a full frame sensor). Coupled with a stable tripod, you can effectively eliminate any potential camera shake, producing crystal-clear images of the sign.

The best times to visit this location are during the early morning hours and in the winter months. At these times, the sun rises in the most southerly direction, casting a warm glow on the sign and offering exquisite lighting for your photos. However, keep in mind that this is a residential area, and be respectful of traffic and the local residents during your visit. The rewards are certainly worth the effort, providing a unique perspective on one of America’s most famous landmarks.

2. Santa Monica Pier Arch

Santa Monica Pier Arch-Photo by Gerson Repreza
Santa Monica Pier Arch-Photo by Gerson Repreza

Located on the edge of the Pacific, Santa Monica Pier Arch is another iconic spot for photographers. The blend of the ocean, beach, and the buzzing pier activities all framed under the massive archway creates a fantastic panorama that epitomizes the spirit of Los Angeles.

While LA is often besieged by smoggy skies, especially during the hot summer months, the best time to shoot this location and many others in Los Angeles are from mid-September through January. The air during these months tends to be clearer, and the skies provide a stunning backdrop for your images. Also the number of tourists at the beach reduces significantly in the winter months.

The Santa Monica Pier Arch offers numerous shooting opportunities throughout the day. To capture the iconic entrance sign, arrive before noon when the arch faces east and is beautifully illuminated. If the afternoon finds you there, don’t worry, the archway shines brilliantly after dark when it’s lit up.

Keep in mind that the sun doesn’t set directly behind the pier but rather a bit to the north. It gets closest to the pier around December 12 each year. Use a tool like the Photographer’s Ephemeris to track the sun’s position. For the most vibrant shots, choose a day with partial cloud cover. To maximize your chances of witnessing a breathtaking sunset, use SunsetWx.com to predict the colorfulness of the evening’s display.

No matter when you visit, the Santa Monica Pier Arch is a must-visit location for any serious photographer. It provides a unique snapshot of LA’s vibrant and bustling seafront culture.

3. Harbor Freeway Viewpoint (a.k.a. Bunker Hill)

Harbor Freeway Viewpoint-Photo by Jackie Nell
Harbor Freeway Viewpoint-Photo by Jackie Nell

For the night owls and cityscape enthusiasts, the Harbor Freeway Viewpoint, also known as Bunker Hill, offers a unique perspective of LA’s vibrant nightlife. This spot is one of the city’s best for capturing light trails and the fascinating interplay between the winding freeway ramps and the city’s glowing skyline. The scene offers a striking illustration of the city’s ceaseless energy and dynamism.

There are numerous angles to explore at this location, and it’s always worth looking out for interesting foregrounds that can enhance your photos’ depth and interest. Shooting here is ideally a two-person job, one to focus on capturing the perfect shot and the other to keep an eye on traffic and ensure safety.

When it comes to equipment, a graduated neutral density filter can help balance the bright city lights with the darker sky, and a sturdy tripod is a must for those crisp long-exposure shots. Be aware that vehicles passing over the overpasses can cause vibrations that might blur your shot, so try to time your shots between the passing traffic.

The best times to shoot at Harbor Freeway Viewpoint are during the shortest days of the year when sunset arrives early. Winter months are ideal for sunset shots as the sun sets more to the south, offering more desirable lighting conditions. The Harbor Freeway Viewpoint is a must-visit for any photographer seeking to capture the essence of LA’s energetic nightlife.

4. Jerome C. Daniel Overlook

Jerome C. Daniel Overlook above the Hollywood Bowl-Photo by img.ly
Jerome C. Daniel Overlook above the Hollywood Bowl-Photo by img.ly

For those seeking a location that offers a panoramic capture of the city, the Jerome C. Daniel Overlook is an ideal spot. Here, you can find a breathtaking view of the iconic Hollywood sign, the Griffith Park Observatory, the hustle and bustle of US 101 freeway, and the majestic LA skyline.

This spot is favored by photographers, particularly as the day gives way to twilight. As the city lights begin to twinkle, they paint a captivating tableau that demands to be immortalized in a photograph. For those interested in dynamic shots, the rushing traffic on the US 101 lends itself beautifully to light trail captures, adding a vibrant sense of movement to your frames.

The Overlook is conveniently accessible, making it an easy addition to your photography itinerary. But be warned, this spot can become crowded, particularly around sunset and during the evening hours. For a more tranquil experience, consider arriving early or on weekdays.

Constructed in preparation for the 1984 Summer Olympics, the Jerome C. Daniel Overlook gives a clear view of the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Park Observatory to the east and the San Fernando Valley to the north. It’s a favored spot among out-of-town visitors and locals alike who appreciate the splendid views it offers.

Winter months, with their clear skies and vivid sunsets, are an ideal time for photographers. Sunrise is the best time for those who want to include the freeway in their shot, offering a perfect blend of natural and city light.

5. Department of Water And Power View of Los Angeles

Department Of Water And Power - Photo by Jesus Curiel
Department Of Water And Power - Photo by Jesus Curiel

For those in the know, the Department Of Water And Power building is a treasure trove of photographic opportunities. This architectural masterpiece is surrounded by intricate fountains and sculptures, all of which are beautifully illuminated at night, casting a magical glow on the surroundings.

Most notably, the building offers an unparalleled view of the cityscape. The surrounding waters create an astonishing foreground that beautifully reflects the dazzling lights of the skyscrapers. This combination of water, light, and urban architecture makes for truly striking compositions.

In addition to the reflective water feature, the site boasts of fascinating fountains that can add a dynamic element to your frame. Be aware, however, that during periods of drought and in the summer months, the fountains are often switched off. But even without the water, the views from here are magnificent, making it an essential stop on any photography tour of Los Angeles.

For a more intriguing shot, try visiting at night when the building’s lights add a touch of drama to the cityscape, casting a magnificent glow on the water, and resulting in a breathtaking visual spectacle.

6. Elysian Park

Elysian Park - Photo by Jesus Curiel
Elysian Park - Photo by Jesus Curiel

Elysian Park, nestled to the North East of the downtown core, is a true gem for photographers looking for an unobstructed view of the LA skyline. Perched atop a hill, this vantage point is perfect for capturing breathtaking sunset vistas as the golden light gracefully illuminates the cityscape.

The park’s elevated position gives photographers a unique perspective of the city, transforming the bustling downtown area into a serene tableau of urban architecture. As day transitions into evening, the buildings’ lights begin to twinkle, offering photographers a magical opportunity to capture the city in its evening attire.

Adding to the visual interest is the nearby Dodger Stadium. The stadium’s architecture provides an intriguing contrast to the towering skyscrapers of the city, making it a captivating foreground element. As the sun dips below the horizon, the stadium lights create a lively atmosphere that breathes life into your night photographs. Whether you’re shooting at sunset or after dark, Elysian Park is a must-visit location for a stunning view of Los Angeles.

7. Kenneth Hahn Park Viewpoint of LA Skyline

Kenneth Hahn Park Viewpoint of Los Angeles-Photo by Sam Gao
Kenneth Hahn Park Viewpoint of Los Angeles-Photo by Sam Gao

The Kenneth Hahn Park Viewpoint offers a unique opportunity to frame the downtown LA skyline against the majestic backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains. This perspective, a rare western view of the city, makes this park a treasure trove for photographers seeking a different angle of Los Angeles.

One of the park’s greatest advantages is its opening time, starting at 6 am. This early opening allows photographers to capture the cityscape against the awe-inspiring canvas of a sunrise. As the day’s first light illuminates the city and the mountains, you’re granted a truly unparalleled photo opportunity.

However, do note that Kenneth Hahn Park is a considerable distance from the downtown core. Therefore, the best time to shoot is in the morning when the air is clearer, avoiding potential blurring caused by heatwaves or smog later in the day.

For optimal results, a lens offering a 20-30 degree field of view on a full frame camera is recommended. This provides an ideal balance, capturing both the towering skyscrapers and the imposing mountain range. Whether you’re a landscape lover or a cityscape enthusiast, Kenneth Hahn Park is a must-visit spot for capturing an awe-inspiring view of Los Angeles.

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While these seven spots are a fantastic start, remember that they are just the tip of the iceberg. Los Angeles is home to hundreds of hidden photo spots waiting to be discovered.

The best times to photograph LA’s landscapes are during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset. However, night photography enthusiasts will also find LA’s city lights irresistible. As well, the winter months between mid-November to mid-January often offer the most photogenic conditions with the smallest crowds.

For a comprehensive guide to the city’s photographic potential, consider using the PIXEO App. Available for both Android and iPhone, the PIXEO App is your ultimate companion for finding the best photo spots worldwide, including those in the City of Angels.

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