Los Angeles is a visually-amazing place. It is so densely packed with wonderful and weird images that tease the eye as you drive around the vast city. I could easily spend a month or two or more here just happily snapping pictures of all the things that interest me, from crumbling pastel-painted stucco buildings to odd and exotic storefronts to beautiful ocean views to -- the best -- some of the many, many, many characters that live there. As I hopped around L.A. today with my family, from famous beaches to the winding one-lane streets of a hilltop neighborhood near Glendale, I grabbed as many photos as I could without being completely absorbed, lost in images. One must be present when you have children about.

First stop this morning: Santa Monica Pier. Yes, it's touristy, the water is suspect and the air smells a bit dodgy, but how can you not go? You have to go. It was sunny and warm and I love being by the big water.

Can anyone look OK eating a hot dog on a stick? I don't really think so.

Foreign hipster alert!

Geeky Seattle tourist alert!

Birds rule.

Off to the ever-fabulous/disturbing Venice Beach next.

Venice Beach is ALL about the show, and the show is the people.

Crossing town, two signs, and Crackarthur Park. Someone left the pipe out in the rain.

The day ends most wonderfully at an elementary-school musical production of "Yellow Submarine," with a starring role going to the young daughter of my dear L.A.-based friend. MissSeven wore her Beatles t-shirt in honor of the event.

Then the two families, kids and grandparents and all, went for Mexican food, chatted and laughed and ate, the sun went down, and another crazy California day comes to an end. Keeping my eye open for images makes things open up in a way they wouldn't do otherwise. More to come.