Amelia Earhart once said, “When a great adventure is offered, you don’t refuse it.” Which was my mentality precisely when I was given the chance to join in on a trip to Half Moon Bay. My decision to go did mean that I had to forfeit the unstructured plans I had for the day, but I don’t regret it. Going and being there and experiencing all that I did was nothing short of magical. For the first time in a while, I felt alive, and free to enjoy, and free to let go and indulge my inner adventurer. The world suddenly became a little larger, a little more exciting. And I discovered that I was a much braver photographer than I previously believed.
I still remember the sharp, icy wind on my face; the exhilaration of riding in the back seat, the roof down and my untamed hair positively wild as we carved along the rugged California coast. I remember the grey skies and the wrinkled water, and the damp sand beneath my TOMS. I remember the craggy rocks, and the thunderous breaks. I remember the surfers – so many of them – and how they, to my great amusement, all looked alike. (There is a reason for the stereotype, I thought.) I remember feeling the strange and utter abandoning of my usual timidity when snapping them, the curiosity and affinity and awe that stirred within at witnessing their energy, strength, and physical grace.
Looking back at the photographs taken has taught me that being a good photographer is as much about being quick & assertive as it is being patient & still. A lot of my snaps turned out unsatisfactory only because I didn’t wait the one extra second or two for the seagull to look my way, or for the surfer to rise to the crest of the wave. It’s a hard balance to strike, especially when you understand very well that the difference between The Perfect Shot and a bad one can be hair-thin and determined by a split second’s timing. But I suppose it’s like driving stick: the concept is easy enough, but finding that crucial clutch point – that perfect intersection between letting go and pushing forward – only comes with experience and practice, and a whole lot of stalls in between. I just need more practice. I’m certain that I’ll one day find that sweet middle ground.
In the meantime, I’ll be thankful for the photographs that turned out well.