Santa Monica Pier, Promenade, and Farmer’s Market, May 31st, 2014
Stuart and I found ourselves available on a Saturday morning without our third (Ed Conde), so we decided we would take a trip to Santa Monica Pier and shoot the vicinity. We wanted to arrive early enough that we caught some of the “behind the scenes” things that happen before the shops and amusement park opens, and to see the beach before it is packed with beach-goers that we were convinced would pack the place by 9:00, so we arrived by 7:30. It was surprising how quiet the area around the pier was, so we shot some topside, then headed underneath the pier to decide if it were interesting enough to justify the effort.
After we stumbled over drunk bums under the pier for a while, we came back out into the light just as folks started to arrive at the beach, virtually directly in front of us. I looked and was struck by the thought “Everything you could possibly want in a Southern California beach photo – girls, bikinis, an old guy in a speedo, kelp, a sea gull, and foreign tourists. It’s like I hit the Lottery…”
There is only so much you can shoot with so few people before you really start standing out, so we headed up off the pier toward the Third Street Promenade (via the long way since it was so early still). As we walked along the side streets, there is a point where you find a huge bunch of bright stainless steel balls mounted as a decoration on the side of a building. It looks better than it sounds, and the opportunities for reflections was something I couldn’t pass up. You can see Stuart and I in each one of the reflecting balls.
One sight we ran into isn’t something you see every day. There was a guy at the bus stop across the street with a full-sized harp getting ready to get on the bus. I yelled across to him asking “Are you going to drag that harp onto the bus?” He smiled and yelled back “Sure!”.
As we reached the Promenade, the light was great on this giant topiary triceratops. Topiary dinosaurs… My grandson would love this place. While not the nicest of these topiaries on the promenade, this one had the best light at this time of the morning.
One of my all-time favorite photographers was Saul Leiter, the iconic color street photographer who recently passed. His work in NYC and Paris shot through windows, and of subjects caught in window reflections always draw me in, so I look for them wherever I go. This is the front of the Apple Store on the Promenade.
At the far end of the Promenade there is the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market (on certain Saturdays). We walked amongst the shoppers and followed the antics of produce shoppers everywhere.
Walking through the maze of people and stalls led to a few interesting finds (and some amazingly tasty fruit). I saw this sign and decided this is where I always shop for fruit and vegetables.
There were a few buskers along the side trying to make a buck. I had to give this guy credit for imagination. Having seen hundreds, this guy turned my head and got a buck just for panache. This guy was really from Texas, but when you are trying to make a buck on the Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade, you have to be inventive…
We had finally reached the end of our allotted time, so we headed back via Palisades Park. Do you remember Freddy Cannon and the song “Palisades Park”? In an odd twist of fate, there is a cannon in Palisades Park. Makes all of the jokes about “open carry” pale into insignificance.
The Santa Monica Pier area is really quite pretty, and the angle from the near edge of Palisades Park is about the best spot to shoot it from. The bald skies detract, but it is a nice view…
Since we were running out of time, we headed down the final few hundred feet of old “US Route 66” (yes, THAT route 66), and headed for the car. Even at 10:00, the pier, and the adjacent beach was not packed. It proves that people (particularly the younger crowd) still isn’t in summer time spirit yet.
It would have been nice to grab an early lunch at Bubba Gump’s on the head of the pier, but we had places to be. A nice day, lots of good shots, $12.00 for parking at the pier, and a couple of bucks for fruit in the Farmer’s Market. Another cheap photography “date”.