Those visiting the streets of West Hollywood may very well get a taste of the paparazzi life — after all, the city itself holds a celebrity status. Between its palm tree-lined boulevards and famed hotel rooftops, WeHo is rife with photographic opportunities. Looking for a place to start? Use this guide to round out your WeHo photo list.
The Rooftop at Restoration Hardware
Whether or not you’re interested in home improvement, anyone visiting WeHo should pay at least one visit to the rooftop of Restoration Hardware. Open to the public, this oasis is located at level 3 of the building on Melrose (just take the stairs all the way up). Expansive, private, and plant-filled, the 10,000-square-foot space offers ample opportunity for midday relaxation or sublime photo shoots. To photograph the traffic on the street below, or for a bird’s eye view of the Design District, use a wide-angle lens and a wide aperture. For shots of the rooftop itself, use a prime lens or zoom lens to capture intricate details of plants and architectural additions. And once you’re finished, be sure to take a moment to relax, either under a canopy or in the Southern California sun.
Pacific Design Center
To say that WeHo’s Pacific Design Center is hard to miss would be an incredible understatement. Occupying over a million and a half square feet of space, this multi-hued complex offers a host of unique, design-oriented exhibitions, as well as incredible visual intrigue. Visit the center to photograph its comically large and lego-like building components, which are deep blue, bright red, and forest green, and which converge on the corner of Melrose and San Vicente Boulevard, complete with a series of fountains out front.
To photograph this massive complex, you’ll need to venture away from the incredible site and use quite a wide-angle lens. Cross Melrose for a broad view of the buildings and select your perspective. Experiment with shooting various angles, and even try lying on your back in the courtyard to catch the convergence of the three structures. Alternatively, you can enter the complex and photograph the vacuous, but meticulously designed, space within and the uber modern and intricate staircases.
Plan your visit during the morning or late afternoon to capture the best light as it filters through the airy building. If you’re lucky, you may even stumble across some photogenic art installations made by WeHo’s local creatives.
The Rooftop at E.P. & L.P.
The second rooftop listed in our guide, the top floor of the popular Asian-fusion restaurant E.P. & L.P. is best for those seeking a nighttime shot of WeHo’s sprawl. Treat yourself to a cocktail and set your camera to a low-light setting (or simply increase ISO, open your aperture, and select a fast shutter speed). Photograph the bar’s patrons as they enjoy the artisanal drink offerings by the mellow light of E.P & L.P’s atmospheric lighting.
Then, head to the rooftop’s edge, where you’ll be able to spot WeHo in its twilit glory. Take a few shots of the surrounding cityscape and the Hollywood Hills to the north, but then set your camera to long-exposure mode (with a slow shutter speed and a timed shutter release) to capture the glow of WeHo’s ubiquitous traffic. For this exercise, you’ll want to either balance your camera on the bar’s railing, or bring along a small tripod. Whatever you decide, keep your wits about you to prevent your camera from tumbling off!
Though many of West Hollywood’s offerings charm visitors with their innate quirkiness, WeHo’s Schindler House attracts viewers through its intense simplicity. Designed by LA architect Rudolph M. Schindler in 1921, the house was — and remains — visionary for its use of building materials, architectural principles, and minimal design. Built upon a single concrete slab, the structure epitomizes the marriage of form and function with its stark rooms and Japanese-style walls and sliding doors.
One visit, and you may just be inspired to embrace the minimalist movement. For your shoot, visit the house (now-museum) during off-hours in the evening or morning for a quiet experience. Bring along a wide-angle or prime lens and walk through each room, snapping and recording the site’s unique architectural elements. You’ll need to utilize a quick shutter as the locale can be a bit dim. That said, you can use post-processing to evoke the mood you felt as you traversed this mythical modern mecca.
West Hollywood Library
In between experiencing WeHo’s wilder offerings (read: drag queen bingo and bottomless boozy brunch), make time to visit the city’s public library, especially if you’re photographically inclined.
Sleek and futuristic, this building is as fun to photograph on the inside as it is on the outside. Enter its front doors to capture rows of books, illuminated nicely by an abundance of natural light from the library’s wrap-around windows. Photograph the expansive sprawl of free space, the library’s rotating collection of art, and even nearby destinations (such as West Hollywood Park and the Pacific Design Center) that can be spotted from seating facing the east and west windows. To photograph the exterior, use a wide-angle lens and shoot when the light isn’t too harsh — you know what they say about the California sun. When shooting inside, head for the main staircase to capture the unique architectural elements and accompanying art suspended above. Weave your way through the aisles of written works, and capture quieter moments in this space beloved by bibliophiles.
Did we miss anything? If you’re interested in movies and television shot in WeHo, check out our film buffs guide!