On a recent business trip, I was able to spend time in Santa Monica, my first visit to a favorite place in a very long time.
Los Angeles used to be home. My wife was born and raised there. Our children were born in the San Fernando Valley on the outskirts of Los Angeles and were raised in Simi Valley, just west of the San Fernando Valley, until the girls were tweens and teens. While the greater DC area now feels like home, it is always great to travel back to Southern California for a visit.
I love the ocean, the sand, the tourists, the hawkers, the local outdoor enthusiasts, the whole Southern California vibe. So, I decided to do some street photography around the Santa Monica pier and waterfront.
Street photography is a fun way to sharpen quick-reaction observation and composition skills. From the unscripted action happening all around, you strive to isolate and capture events that are interesting and noteworthy. Those skills are especially useful for a documentary-style wedding photographer!
Below I present a few of my favorite photographs from that first afternoon in Santa Monica.
Beach storefronts under renovation. I love the buildings' funky beach colors and shapes as well as the mix of people traveling by.
Beach selfie-on-a-stick. Despite the sun, it was a rather chilly March afternoon on the pier. In this photograph, I love the color harmony of the guy's hoodie and the painted shop with all its unusual treasures outside.
Grandpa and grandson feeding the seagulls. Being a grandfather myself, I love this shared moment between the two, and I enjoy the wonderful tower of seagulls above them.
Walking the boardwalk. In this photograph of the Santa Monica pier and its amusements, I enjoy the sense of place. The chilly ocean breeze and direct California sun cause people to wrap themselves in different ways, which adds to the fun.
Beachside troubadour. In this portrait, I love the rugged face, the white windblown hair, the calloused hands, and the gracious smile. I get the impression that this troubadour has been entertaining Santa Monica tourists for a long, long time and deserves every tip he receives.
Empty bumpers. Since March is not prime beach time, even in California, not all of the pier's amusements were open. I found these bumper cars to be quite interesting despite the absence of people (maybe even more interesting because of the emptiness). I love the harmonious mix of colors and shapes and their reflections in the metal flooring. The expensive high-rises in the distance help define the unique character of this setting.
Swimsuit model amid the waves. Walking under the pier, I chanced upon a swimsuit model posing on the beach. Despite the cool temperature--and the very cold Pacific waters!--, the photographer's energy and model's enthusiasm kept the session going. In my photograph, I like the way the pier's supports break the frame up into disjoint pieces offering different peeks at the ocean.
Walking a tightrope. It was fascinating to watch people walk and perform gymnastics on the tight ropes -- a major activity on the beach. In this photograph, I love the way the main subject balances so perfectly among the palm trees. I delight in how the perspective makes the scene seem almost otherworldly.
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