Ali Mitton does more than just point and click.
When the L.A. photographer isn’t capturing beautiful women set against equally beautiful landscapes for Playboy and Live FAST, she can be found scouring our fair city for locations, subjects, models and more.
As a transplant, she also has great perspective on the city, rife with funny and left-of-center observations.
And in the first edition of That’s What She Said, she gave us some advice on cheap dates, great gifts and — for the single among you — the most slept-on place to meet a lady.
InsideHook: What's the best place to buy my girlfriend a gift that I've probably never heard of?
Ali Mitton: Broome Street General Store. It's a little hidden gift shop in Silver Lake. They have really cool gifts and some really amazing fine, delicate jewelry. Stuff with diamonds or crystals. It’s on trend and they feature different designers ... I also go there to get coffee, so I kind of look around the store while I'm waiting. A friend actually told me someone proposed in the store at the jewelry counter, so that's pretty cool.
IH: What's a new body/health/fitness trend guys should try?
AM: I think YAS is really awesome. It's like spinning and yoga. For me yoga is just so boring. That's sacrilegious to say, but I'm probably the only person in L.A. that doesn't love yoga. With this, you get both. I see a lot of guys in the classes and they seem to like it.
IH: The sneaky place to meet single women in L.A. that I don't know about is ...
AM: There's this little restaurant called Blaire's down on Rowena that has amazing food and it's kind of really dimly lit. It’s a bar, too. Whenever I go in there I always see babes eating alone and a lot of my friends, who are single babes, go there to eat alone, so, knowing what I know, that would be a good place. It's my favorite restaurant. They do handmade pasta. It's completely unmarked; there's no sign, but it's always full and you see a lot of familiar faces in there.
IH: Best dinner in the city under $20?
AM: I like Mexican. I like El Condor, on Sunset in Silver Lake. It's just a cute, little, hip Mexican place. Super simple, but really good food.
IH: Best outrageously expensive dinner?
AM: I don't do outrageously expensive, but I really like Bestia. They usually have a couple bar slots and that's the only way I've ever gotten a seat there. I think their pasta is some of the best in town. It's like kind of slutty, drenched in butter and garlic, but it's so good.
IH: What’s one thing that L.A. men wear that needs to be abandoned?
AM: I think every man should abandon cargo pants unless they're actually hiking. I read this article about how this spring is gonna be couture hiking gear and that makes no sense to me. That's kind of just terrifying. Those two words should never be put in the same sentence.
IH: What’s the one show every guy should watch with his girl?
AM: I would say Girls because it's terrifying for guys but it sparks some good conversation. Honestly, I've had a couple of guy friends that have watched it and really don't like it, and they're not comfortable with it, I should say, because it is quite ... it's super-real in terms of how it depicts sexuality and sexual relationships, and it's very behind-the-scenes for women and it's kind of gritty. It might be a little too real for some guys. She (Lena Dunham) really does just take whatever people are squirming about and spearhead it, like completely just throws it in your face. I like that. It's fun because if you watch that with your partner then you can talk about it. Whether they like it or not, it's gonna be a big conversation starter, which I think is super healthy and important.
IH: The thing that L.A. drivers do that annoys you most is ...
AM: Oh my god, everything. I feel like people in L.A. just drive like there are no road rules. People don't let you in. It's a weird thing, like I can't really get my head around it, but a lot of people kind of just drive here like it's their last day on Earth. I think I would go as far as to say they’re reckless. A lot of reckless driving and a lot of impatience, which is just funny because you can't be impatient here: there's traffic for days and there's nothing you can do about it. You go to these third-world countries that have traffic jams at like two in the morning and nobody's angry about it, they're just chilling like well, this is life, you know?
IH: How should those drivers be punished?
AM: Just more traffic. Forever. Because you know for that person, that is the worst thing that could ever happen to them — if it upsets them that much.
IH: If you were F-You rich, what’s one bizarre yet awesome thing you’d buy/do?
AM: I would definitely buy an island. Somewhere awesome but in the middle of nowhere. Maybe like somewhere in Southeast Asia or something like that. Just somewhere where I can have an entourage of babes and maybe build a theme park or something.
IH: Favorite movie set in L.A?
AM: I like Pulp Fiction and Get Shorty. Yeah. And then, one of my favorite movies is True Romance and there were parts of it that were shot in L.A. One place was the Safari Inn. That's here somewhere, I believe. [Ed. note: Burbank.]
IH: The best place to play hooky from work is ...
AM: I like the dog park at Runyon Canyon because it's good for people- and dog-watching. And also Echo Park, there's a lake. It's really fun. I'm really into putting a blanket on the grass and sitting down and eating tacos and watching people. And then El Matador, it's super beautiful, around Malibu. I don't go there enough, but whenever I'm shooting there I'm like, man, I gotta come back here and just chill because it's so pretty.
IH: Your best secret for navigating LAX is ...
AM: I'm always doing red eyes so I'm always like, oh, I'll have a glass of wine and I'll have a Valium and by the time I get through customs I'm ready to curl up into a little ball and have nobody talk to me.
IH: The best weekend getaway from Los Angeles is ...
AM: Joshua Tree. I like going to Pappy & Harriet's and I usually go on a few hikes in the park. And then just waiting to chill under the stars, I guess, because it's really beautiful out there at night. I take pictures at night, but not really of the stars. I don't do any long exposures or anything like that but, photography there — sunrise and sunset — the colors are pretty amazing.
IH: Favorite place to see live music in L.A. in the spring/summer?
AM: Hollywood Bowl.
IH: What’s one tip you’d give an amateur photographer to help him up his game?
AM: Keep it simple, try not to be tricky, get all the basics down and try to shoot some film. Train on film because it's fun. Film always looks beautiful even if the content isn't the best in the world — it's got a quality to it that makes everything that much more magical.
IH: What’s a great place for photos in LA that no one knows about?
AM: Huntington Library or the Botanical Gardens. It's stunning, and there are a lot of different areas to shoot.