So there I was, at one of my favorite places in Santa Cruz going over photos from a special event. When a member of the surfing community dies, the custom has become to celebrate and remember via a paddle out with friends and family.
I found the image I was looking for: Buck’s fiancee and his sister tossing his ashes up into the air while friends are splashing the water. I’m trying to keep my composure and I’m absolutely failing. A tipsy tourist sits next to me — it’s her best day in a long time. Gee, I’m sorry the food at that restaurant wasn’t as good as you hoped. That’s unusual for them, and these are unusual times. Here’s another place that I think you’ll like. Check it out tonight, OK?
She has no idea what I’m working on and that’s cool. She has no idea that my heart is breaking and that’s still cool. Welcome to Santa Cruz, and enjoy your stay.
Be present anyway
I’m usually the first to say that a quality subject in poor light is a poor photograph. A mediocre subject in quality light can be a quality photograph. That’s all true, however, life doesn’t always line up like that, does it? When it comes to storytelling, you have to be there. You can be as prepared as you want and in the end, the actual conditions are likely out of your control.
The photographs won’t be perfect. Get over it. Be present anyway because the moment that you captured just might be irreplaceable. Some of these may touch someone’s very soul.
Way out there
Folks hung out to talk, and share stories and snacks. Buck was a legendary local surfboard shaper. I saw more of his boards in one place today than I think I ever saw in his workshop. Surfers talked about how much they loved their board. This shortboard, this fish, this longboard.
Wait … he made a longboard? Well yeah, he made this one for me and I love it. Wait … he made a longboard?!? Those were the kinds of conversations.
The people present were a who’s who of the surfing community. Big names were bawling their eyes out. Everybody gathered their boards and either went down the staircase or jumped off the point. They surfed a bit (the tide was low so it was pretty nice) then paddled out to where it was calmer. They were way out there so I brought my longer lens anticipating this. I’m out there on the point with my Canon EOS R and a Sigma 150-500mm on a monopod, Charlie’s next to me with his 300mm, Kevin’s covering it from the air and I’m pretty sure I see Audrey swimming with a water housing.
It feels good to be part of this community.