Los Angeles is arguably one of the most photogenic cities in the world. We want to share this guide with those who want to visit Southern California and are willing to dedicate some time exploring the city going over this list of the best places to photograph in Los Angeles. Most people think that only Downtown L.A., Hollywood, and Santa Monica can offer the best spots for photography but that is simply not true as there are hundreds of places such as parks, bridges, freeway overpasses, suburbs, and several miles of scenic roads available for your viewing pleasures.
Many things have changed in Los Angeles since we started TimeLAX, our Los Angeles time-lapse photography project in 2012. New city ordinances have been implemented almost everywhere including roads where pedestrians are no longer allowed, parks that close at sunset, and roads where parking has been limited to certain hours as well.
Whether you are looking for uncommon spots to take selfies from or you are just interested in cityscape photography we are sure you will find this list useful.
1. Turnbull Canyon in Whittier
Turnbull Canyon offers hiking trails that are ideal to capture the sunset behind the L.A. skyline as seen in the beginning of our third Los Angeles time-lapse video. I think this is the best spot to take photos of the sunset in Los Angeles. Obviously the same applies to moonsets, the only problem is that the park is not open at night. We don’t recommend you to stay after sunset or go hiking during the hours between sunset and sunrise, first because it is illegal, and second because when the neighbors see people or flashlights they call the L.A. Sheriff’s Department immediately and you will not get a warning ticket but a citation and you can also get arrested. For more information about this area of Los Angeles County read our article about Turnbull Canyon.
2. The Verdugo Mountains in Glendale
The unobstructed views from these mountains are spectacular, especially after the rain. This is the best spot for panoramic photos in the entire Los Angeles metropolitan area. You can see the cities of Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, Downtown L.A., and also Palos Verdes, and Long Beach. There is plenty of street parking on Sunshine Drive in Glendale. Hike on Las Flores Motorway for about two hours, be careful with bears, bobcats, and mountain lions, and enjoy the views! It’s open 24 hours a day. This trail has been rated as moderate by hiking experts. You sure will feel that you got a nice workout when you get back to your car!
3. Piuma Road in Malibu
This road offers incredible views of Malibu Canyon Road, Santa Monica, and Calabasas from different lookouts. The road is full of dangerous curves where many fatal accidents have occurred, therefore you have to be alert behind the wheel when driving at any time of the day, however, don’t get discouraged, the views are amazing, so go shoot as you have the opportunity. This is one of the best spots to photograph a bed of clouds at night in Los Angeles, especially between the months of May and June.
4. Wonder View Trail in Hollywood
If you’re looking for the best panoramic views of Hollywood, then hiking this trail is a must. You can park your vehicle on Wonder View Drive as there is plenty of street parking available. Although this trail has been rated as moderate by hiking experts, it’s quite long and the terrain is not flat. To see how beautiful the view is, watch our fourth Los Angeles time-lapse video. This place is one of the top 5 locations for photography in L.A.
5. Flat Rock Point in Palos Verdes
From this location, you can capture stunning shots of the Pacific Ocean, Redondo Beach, and the Los Angeles skyline all within the same frame. However, you will need a telephoto lens as the area can get quite windy. Once you arrive, you will be treated to endless views of the ocean, Catalina Island, and Santa Monica. Street parking is available, but keep in mind that this spot is extremely popular throughout the year. Plan accordingly and consider visiting Flat Rock Point after it rains. This is another location that I consider to be one of the best places to take pictures in Los Angeles.
6. Kenneth Hahn Park in Baldwin Hills
This is the prime spot to capture the moon rising behind the L.A. skyline during wintertime. Park on Don Lorenzo Drive, Don Miguel Drive, or Don Zarembo Drive. You don’t have to hike too much, which is always good if you are bringing several cameras and tripods. This is not one of the safest neighborhoods in L.A. so please be careful. We don’t recommend you go there by yourself.
7. Westward Beach in Malibu
Located on the west side of Point Dume, near the spot where the ending of the 1968 movie, The Planet of the Apes, was filmed, Westward Beach offers nice views of the ocean, the stars, and the Milky Way. You will want to spend a lot of time there and probably visit this part of Malibu more than once. There is plenty of street parking on Westward Beach Road but only after sunset because the beach is always crowded during the day. Westward Beach is considered one of the most Instagrammable places in Los Angeles, especially for fashion photography.
8. Bandini Boulevard in Vernon
There are not many photos of the Los Angeles skyline taken from Vernon because the area is significantly dangerous but if you are willing to take the risk for the love of photography then the Bandini Boulevard bridge over the L.A. River has the best cinematic views of Downtown, but once you are there try to take the photos and leave as quickly as you can.
9. The East Olympic Blvd. Bridge in Boyle Heights
This is one of the first locations we found when we were exploring the city to make the first Los Angeles time-lapse video in 2012, however, we did not create any photo sequences from there until 2019. The area surrounding the bridge is dangerous and dirty; be careful with people riding bicycles on the sidewalk.
This collection is quite diverse, offering a variety of options. We hope you have a great time discovering Los Angeles, just as much as we do. If you are a fan of big cities, we recommend taking a look at the top spots for taking pictures in New York City.