Ryan Tatar captures the essence of surfing
Jim: Ryan, this pic came across my phone on Instagram and made me stop… it's really solid, what are we looking at?
Ryan: I was staying down in Venice/Santa Monica for a few days on my anniversary with my beautiful wife. Her anniversary gift to me was not complaining when a good south swell was coming last summer in early June and I wanted to check the waves at Malibu and get wet. We posted up on the beach and this shot just captures the moment where a group of friends are heading into the ocean to surf while watching someone on a nice peeler finish the end of their ride… with the iconic pier in the background which I enjoy because it gives a sense of place. Malibu is so iconic in surf culture.
J: What is the process here? Are you using a Polaroid camera? Are you hacking that look with filters?
R: Yes and No. This was shot on a Polaroid 100 land camera from the early 1960s with some expired film sourced from eBay. There are no filters. The expired film stock gave this dreamy blue tint to all of the images. They are just scanned on a flatbed scanner. Shooting surf with this camera is a game of patience and capturing just the right moment.
J: Your work has a really distinct aesthetic, it seems to capture… at a deeper level… what surfing is about. How would you describe it?
R: I'm humbled to hear that. I have been shooting mostly cross-processed and grainy film stocks along with various instant film like Polaroid and Instax. To me it is a bit nostalgic and makes me think of simpler times. I try and capture a quieter view of surf culture, along with things that inspire me along the way.
J: Great. Tell people where they can follow you and find more of your work.
R: I have a portfolio site that is updated a few times a year (www.ryantatar.com) a photo journal blog on tumblr which is updated frequently (www.shakasandsinglefins.com) and Instagram (http://instagram.com/ryantatar).
J: Any last words, closing comments?
R: Keep up the great work at the Surfrider Foundation. It would be great if everyone could give back to the earth and natural places they enjoy. If you are too busy working, give a small donation to the folks working hard to keep those places the way they are. If you are a bit strapped for money at the moment, just picking up a few pieces of trash on your way back home goes along way. Now, I'm headed to Bolinas to check the surf. Happy new year.