It's easy to limit your approach to a photoshoot. You're going to Santa Monica, so go to the pier, right? Well sure, if you want to be where everyone and their mother is. There's a lot more to the city than the tourist traps, so avoiding the pier does you a favor in more way than one. During my shoot with model Eva Minaeva, makeup technician Paige Pelfrey and stylist Alexandra Style, improvising within the nooks and crannies of Santa Monica yielded the best results for LA Street Fashion.
Street photography presents many opportunities to find shots to call yours and yours alone. The Santa Monica Pier is popular for a reason, but that's why the shots you get there are unlikely to stand out. Think about how many people take photos there.
Even if you manage to navigate the unbelievable amount of foot traffic, how will you stand out within a ocean of shots? Frankly, it's not worth it to find out. On top of that, the grittier parts of Downtown Santa Monica where you get a more unique taste of urban Los Angeles.
Zeroing in on tucked-away allies provided some memorable backdrops, but many were hidden in plain sight. With timing and efficiency, streetlights and crosswalks offer irreplaceable optics. The downtown area is relatively small, but packed with texture. It certainly worked well for the aesthetic Minaeva adopted. A flashier backdrop would have overwhelmed her vintage business attire. Downtown Santa Monica's balance of old-world charm and palatable colors made for an edgy, but accessible aesthetic.
It was a gloomy day, so natural lighting was unpredictable at best. My Profoto B10 Strobe gave more pop to otherwise shadowy shots. If the sun had been on our side, I could have gone without the extra lighting. As with every outdoor shoot, it's never good depend on good weather. You can't predict nature, which means artificial lighting can make or break your shoot.
Ideal vocations aren't always obvious, lying beyond the packed attractions and cliché props. For LA Street Fashion shoots, overlooked street corners become the real scores. It's always satisfying to look over your shots with an assurance that no one else found your angle. If you come prepared, it's easy to work backstreets of Downtown Santa Monica to your favor.