Anjali Pinto, Passion Passport contributor and editor, is a photographer living in Chicago. She is obsessed with making images that reflect the curiosities and beauty in life. Whether it’s exploring new destinations, documenting the culinary arts, or collaborating with a stylist – she’s making pictures. You can find more of Anjali’s work on her website. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @anjalipinto.

In late October, I was asked to go on a special assignment.

There was a new restaurant opening in Chicago named Summer House Santa Monica, and with its bright skylight and pale blue tones, the restaurant needed artwork that exuded what it feels like to be near the boardwalk. I was to move up and down the coastline and look for beautiful scenes, bringing back anything that made me feel California. With winter creeping up on us in the Midwest, I was eager for the opportunity to enjoy a few days of sunshine.

Open-ended assignments like this one are a photographer’s dream — I was entrusted with the task of documenting a place of endless summer, golden sunsets and beautiful people. So I started with landmarks: the Venice neon sign and the Santa Monica ferris wheel. The big blue skies and freshly combed sand made every direction I pointed my camera feel like the right one. With the help of a few local friends, I was able to make a mix of documentary images and portraits.

I woke up each morning at 5:30, drank a hot cup of coffee at the foot of my hotel bed and prepared for the next sunrise. I found surfers, well-manicured lawns, unoccupied benches, and neatly parked boats and vintage cars. I biked and spent my hours looking for anything that caught my eye. This series of images are my selects from 3 days spent observing, enjoying and documenting this special part of California.


Words and photos: Anjali Pinto