For some people, Los Angeles is the place where dreams are made. But, for others, it's the place where dreams go to die a horrible and painful death. I went to LA for one reason: to get some Cali girls in my anticipated gym's t-shirts for the pro shop catalog and other promos.
A lot happened that week but, in the end, I think I accomplished what I set out to do, and more. During my trip, I met some awesome girls and got some great promo material. We drank, we ate and we shot. I flew out a small-town girl for her first trip to LA – not to mention, her first plane ride ever. Most photographers simply take images, and then that's the end of it.
I try to do it a little different.
When I finished writing this post, I almost split it into several posts – as it is kind of long, and I don't typically like to have 2,100-word posts – they sometimes make for a boring read and I have a hard enough time keeping attention for a post that long on other sites.
And, while I tried, it just didn't flow right.
Pieces were missing from one post and, to keep the continuity, there would need to be a certain amount of duplicate content – which would be boring. So, I instead decided to keep it as one, to maintain the flow of the week in its entirety for you to be able to make sense into what was a hectic, but amazing, trip… sorry for the length!
Meet & Greet
I landed at LAX on Saturday, July 6, rented my car, and the next day drove 25 miles to Long Beach for a meet & greet at Sababa Restaurant and Lounge in Long Beach. It was a small place that had more of a pub-like feel, but by far has the most collective hottest staff in the area – and it ‘broke the ice' for me and the models. There's nothing more nerve-wracking than having a shy girl in front of the camera because she doesn't ‘know' the photographer and – the way I shoot – it makes it almost impossible to get the best images.
The most memorable shots were taken down from Malibu at Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades… in fact, it was so good – we actually shot here twice. Both days, the water was crazy! The girls kept getting swept by the tide and it was super cold (despite the weather being 90+ degrees) but they were all professional troopers and didn't complain, too much.
After the first beach shoot, I took some of the girls to Bubba Gump Seafood on the Santa Monica Pier and, let me tell ya… those chicks could throw back some seafood and alcohol, making my total lunch bill more than a normal car payment.
The following Friday night, I took them to Katsuya Hollywood.
Quite possibly the absolute best sushi creations, as well as an overall great experience, Katsuya has become my own personal Hollywood tradition each time I'm in Los Angeles.
This night was no different.
Complete with a stable of paparazzi, this group of photographers camp outside the restaurant and hope to get pics of someone famous, saki-drunk and stumbling out of the place. Oddly enough – some of these guys get pissed when you take pictures of them.
I say the hell with 'em. What's good for the goose…
Once again, those girls threw back some serious liquor and sushi – and my bill was more than an average mortgage, and that was even with the VIP membership discount that Katsuya gave me. Even with all of the price-bitching that I do – it was an awesome time – and I look to do it again, very soon.
It's not very often that I get to go out, on a date.
With my travel, training and ‘work' schedule – it makes for a hectic and crappy personal life. Most of the places I travel, I'm not even real sure about a girl's true intentions – is she into ME, or is she into the idea of using me for a Visa – in the words of Pitbull…
and I ain't talkin' credit cards, if ya know what I mean.
But, I met a local girl on this trip. And, no – you won't see her pics in the model images. I still stick with my no dating models that I work with mantra – it's just good business – and also good for a drama-free life!
Hollywood Boulevard is not exactly my first choice for a date but, on my last night in Los Angeles, I took this girl to a little Italian Restaurant on the blvd and it was probably the best time I've had in some time. No business. No work. No worries. Sure, we had gone out several times before during the week; but this night it was just us… from beginning to end.
I've always wanted to go on a Hollywood bus tour. Not really sure why I haven't, but each time I've been in Los Angeles, I've had other things to do. Since I flew Cassie out for her first time in LA; I felt obligated to do more touristy things that she wanted to do… that was my excuse anyway.
So, we went to Hollywood Boulevard and started weighing our options on the best tour to take. I wanted the TMZ Bus Tour – but we couldn't find it. So, we settled on Starline Tours, only because the lady told Cassie it was the best, and she ‘didn't know' where to find the TMZ Tour. As it turns out, Starline also sells tickets for the TMZ Tour! Because this lady exclaimed that Starline was the best choice, I actually had to talk Cassie into TMZ – not very much though – but I still had to convince her to pick it.
We bought the TMZ tickets.
Cassie is probably one of the most outspoken, yet sometimes innocently street-wise naive, 21-year olds you will ever meet. One night, while walking on the Sunset Strip, I had to remind her a couple of times not to lean up against a light pole, while wearing a dress and 6-inch heels. She did that twice, trying to adjust her shoes from all the walking – and both times, a car jerked to the side to try to pick her up.
I'm not saying she looked like a hooker, not at all, but to a guy driving at 1 am on Sunset – a chick wearing an above the thigh dress, with heals, leaning on a pole – well, go figure.
The TMZ Tour, while there are a few things that could be changed to make for a better run-for-my-money, all-in-all it was an excellent way to spend 2+ hours and our guide, Van Lathan, made the trip what it was! If you're looking for things to do in Hollywood, I would certainly recommend this.
We didn't see any celebs on the tour, which was a bit of a bummer. But, we did have a lot of laughs and, during the tour, Cassie won a TMZ t-shirt and was promised a video spot on TMZ for accepting a challenge from Van.
What was the challenge, you ask?
As we approached the Kardashian's D-A-S-H Store on Melrose Avenue, Van told the story about past tours that basically flash mobbed the store. It got so bad, they were worried the store would call the police. So, Van told Cassie to run in the store and yell: Congratulations on your baby!
Well, she did. Without hesitation.
I don't think I've ever met a bigger ‘Kardashian fan' anywhere and this was her first excuse to finally enter the store. I know for a fact that Van recorded it, but have yet to see the footage. That kinda sucked.
Of course, before we left Los Angeles – we had to drive back to D-A-S-H so she could go in the store, as a customer, and window shop. The cheapest item she found was a bikini – for about $235! A freakin bikini – not much material – just $235 for the Kardashian price tag that was attached to it.
While we were in Los Angeles, I tried something I never did before and stayed in a few different hotels, to get a better idea of the choices available. This isnt an in-depth review of any of the hotels… I took no pictures and made no notes. This is just my brief opinion of where I stayed. The prices also reflect summertime rates in July.
Wingate by Wyndham
Los Angeles International Airport LAX 10300 S La Cienega Blvd. Inglewood, California 90304
I stayed here only one night because it was close to the airport and I had an early morning arrival. It was ok, being where it was located and for $108/night. It had a secure parking lot. That's about all I can say about this hotel.
Hilton Long Beach
701 West Ocean Blvd.
Long Beach, California 90831
An overall good place, and good experience for $130/night – while a little difficult to find for the first time, I would definitely stay here again when in Long Beach. Internet was extra, maybe like $19/day, if I remember right.
Sheraton Gateway Hotel
Los Angeles Airport
6101 W. Century Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90045
I stayed here because I had to pick Cassie from LAX – so this was convenient. The first thing I noticed with this hotel – despite the $238/night price tag – there was no freakin refrigerator in the room!
Millennium Biltmore Hotel
506 S. Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90071
You could tell that this was an older place, rich with history, and the $273/night rate that came with it.
Hollywood Celebrity Hotel
1775 Orchid Avenue
Hollywood, California 90028
Just a few blocks from Hollywood Boulevard, this $190/night hotel wasn't what I was expecting. The rooms were quite small, as was the hotel in general, and the parking lot was even smaller. The parking rate was like $10/night, and it was so small (only held about 10 cars) – we kept getting blocked in.
7000 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, California 90028
As close to Hollywood Boulevard as you can get, right on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for the $255/night rate – we got so much more than any of the other hotels. Even with the extra valet fee of $30/night, it was well worth it.
The Roosevelt was, by far, the best hotel during this trip, and the staff (desk clerks and valet staff) made for a much more excellent stay. So much so, that we stayed here multiple days until catching the plane on Sunday, July 14 – but…
I was so busy the entire trip, I forgot to look for the 2 holes in the lobby ceiling that Mickey Cohen put there in 1947 with his two .45 caliber handguns.
The End Result?
The whole reason for my trip was to have a Los Angeles photo shoot – even though a lot more went on… and here's a few pics of what I left with:
Do you have any more tips that might be helpful? If you liked this article, feel free to share it on social media so someone you know might benefit from it.
What You Can Do
The founder of Combat Mindset, Michael Saad, is a straight-forward and easy to follow Results Coach that helps athletes, fighters and tactical operators get mentally and physically stronger.