Pesto Skyline DTLA
May 11, 2021

Expert Tips For Taking the Best Rooftop Photos of DTLA

If you’ve seen some amazing skyline shots of Downtown L.A. — or anywhere around Los Angeles and Orange County, really — chances are  they were done by P.E.S.T.O, aka Vic Lara. The real estate photographer has a knack for showing the best views of and from some pretty magnificent buildings around the city, including from the top of 1133 Hope.

Lara is an Angeleno through and through. Raised in Downey, he started taking photos of everything around DTLA, preferably from the highest points he could find, when he was in high school. He moved to the South Park neighborhood in 2018, and can’t imagine living anywhere else. The landscape is his muse.

Here he talks about some of his favorite views, spots, and how to get the best shots from any vantage point around DTLA. 

What’s your favorite building in DTLA?

The absolute coolest building Downtown is the Wilshire Grand on the corner of 7th and Figueroa. I got to see it grow right in front of me. Some of the best dining spots in town are there in the Intercontinental Hotel with amazing views of the city. Plus, when the sail lights up for special occasions, like on Cinco de Mayo, it really makes the skyline pop. 

What do you love about living in the South Park neighborhood?

The best things about South Park are that just about everything is within walking or biking distance, and you can easily take the Metro to the beach. No need to battle the famous L.A. traffic. On top of that, DTLA is centrally located so you could get anywhere in a decent time. And there are constantly new and exciting things popping up here.

Photo by P.E.S.T.O. aka Vic Lara

Any good tips for taking a great landscape photo of the skyline?

For taking a photo of Downtown, I like using one of the two tallest buildings as centerpiece. Or find a way to balance them both in the shot

In your opinion, what’s the best view from the 1133 Hope rooftop?

I think the view from the roof here is one of the best because you’re at a perfect height and just outside of the main cluster of towers so they fit into your field of view. You can also get some sky and mountains in the frame.

What should we do to take a great photo from the 1133 Hope rooftop or balcony?

Try and get a composed shot with the Wilshire grand on the left and US Bank tower on the right. They’re at about equal distance from the center of the cluster. Makes for great photos. 

Spire 73 DTLA
Photo courtesy Intercontinental Hotel Los Angeles Downtown

How about a good restaurant pick in DTLA?

My favorite place is Spire 73 atop the Wilshire Grand. It’s the highest rooftop bar in the Western Hemisphere, and on clear days you can see all these to the ocean. And it’s magical to watch the city lights come on as the sun goes down.