There’s Starbucks. Lots of ’em. Whole Foods, yep — no less a massive flagship location (but what I would for a normal candy section). And, even Trader Joe’s. So it does feel a lot like the San Francisco Bay Area or any other major US city for that matter.

But Venice Beach (and neighbor Santa Monica) are different enough. There’s enough of a change — the people, the streets, the sights — that Loni Stark and I are able to escape, if only partially, from the intense fireball known as Silicon Valley.

As I wrote earlier this week this time every year we take a creative, working getaway to somewhere different. In the past we’ve gone to the small fishing town of Loreto located alongside the stunning Sea of Cortez in the Baja California Sur. Since we hadn’t yet explored the sleepy hipster vibe of coastal Los Angeles we thought it would be a good place to check out.

So I haul my video gear. Loni her canvases and painting supplies.

We generally try to stick to the regular routine in the morning sticking to strict deadlines and goals and deliverables.. and all that.

And by afternoon we shift — or attempt to shift — into creative mode. Anything goes. There are no bad ideas. We write, brainstorm, and also plan for the upcoming year for Stark Insider. Deadlines and goals. Short film ideas. Content strategy. Over-the-top ideas. It all goes.

IN PHOTOS: Venice Beach, California

Venice Beach, California
The boardwalk. Kind of looks like concrete to me. A wonderful stroll on an overcast day north up to the Santa Monica pier.
The Firehouse - Venice Beach, California
The Firehouse restaurant on Rose — one of the most popular streets in a gentrifying area.
Cafe Gratitude Venice - Vegan restaurant
Cafe Gratitude. What are you thankful for this very moment? (wi-fi?)
Vegan at Cafe Gratitude.
It looks too healthy to me. But it was delicious.
Nachos… w/o cheese, w/o meat. Where is this life headed?!
Venice Beach Architecture
Modern dwell-home style architecture is common with new construction in Venice, and, especially Santa Monica. At least based on casually walking a few of the neighborhoods here.
Venice Beach Architecture
Rose Ave.
DEUCE Gym - Venice Beach, California
DEUCE Gym. It’s not a cliche from the movies. Hardcore outdoor gym next to autoshop.
Sonos ONE Speaker with Alexa
I brought a Sonos One speaker. At $199 not a bad way to get HQ audio with (some) Alexa capability on the road.
Venice Beach by Loni Stark Copyright 2017 Stark
Venice Beach by Loni Stark Copyright 2017 Stark.
Venice Beach / Santa Monica Magic Wand car wash
Car wash!
Groundwork, Venice Beach, California
Groundwork coffee on Rose.
Rose Restaurant Venice Beach, California
Rose Restaurant Venice Beach, California.
Venice Beach, California
Loni Stark oil painting
Loni Stark blocks her 2nd painting of Venice Beach.

As for Venice Beach it’s pretty and very friendly. And, like back up in Northern California, very expensive. There’s plenty of gentrification. You can see it just walking down a street, say, like Rose. There you can see small basic homes next to brand new dwell homes as you might see in Architectural Digest magazine. Traffic on main throughway LIncoln Blvd. seems pretty bad at times. So if this was once a laid back beach hangout it would seem that is now changing. I’m not sure everyone likes the direction of “progress” but this isn’t the first place gentrification has happened en masse in a short period of time.

On this trip I brought a Panasonic GH5 rig. Along with a few lenses and odd pieces and bits:

Panasonic GH5 with Atomos Ninja Inferno

  • GH5 body
  • Panasonic 12-35mm MFT — compact and pretty nice native lens, as long as there’s light
  • Sigma 18-35mm with Metabones Speedbooster Ultra — heavy, but a killer combo
  • Rokinon 85mm Cine — for times I want to get cinematic shots and lots of bokeh
  • Tiffen Variable ND — mandatory for daytime shooting
  • Atomos Ninja Inferno monitor/recorder — superb monitor with large, bright 7-inch screen and ability to take 4K/60 externally via HDMI from the GH5
  • Zoom H6 + a Sennheiser MKE600 shotgun mic — in case we need to capture on location ambient audio, interviews and/or voiceover

One surprise. I always knew the GH5 was good — oustanding, really — for video, playing leagues beyond its price bracket. But I never thought much of it for photos. With the Sigma 18-35mm I might be changing my mind. The GH5’s IBIS can yield some really rock steady shots, even when snapping using a long shutter speed. I used to pull out my 80D for serious photo sessions. Maybe not so much anymore. Sniff, sniff. What’s become of this generation Canon shooter?!

More to come. From Venice Beach. The San Francisco Bay Area. And, up and down the West Coast. Have camera will travel here on Stark Insider.