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  • Brendan McKay

Killing Time

With Jen in China a few weeks ago (she's back though! clean laundry, thank god!), I had an abundance of free time to go do whatever I wished (I did attempt laundry while she was gone and managed to shrink two of her shirts...). And while I wish I could regale my friends and family with epic stories of #thatbachelorlife with a two-day trip to Vegas, 36 holes of golf or days' straight of pizza and beer, alas I cannot.

I did however, in the spirit of Dawn Ethos, find time to just exist a bit. I managed to get a full 6 hours in on the beaches of Santa Monica one Saturday afternoon with a book, a sub from Bay Cities and some substantial time floating in the Pacific by myself. Those ocean afternoons are best served for a log unto themselves - last year my brother and I remarked at just how amazing it is to feel the splash of chilly water and tang of saltwater and immediately hearken back to to summers spent on the Jersey shore. More on that subject in a month or so.

One of the more specific memories I have over the past few weeks was a simple Sunday afternoon sitting down with a new buddy, sharing some beers and burgers and catching up in general. Our conversation quickly turned to some of the work I've been doing with photography and this blog, and it became an introspective couple of hours for us - we talked about art and the definition of art, arriving at some sort of synthesis of sincerity on behalf of the artist, a voice and story untold, and all of that in the context of an action or traditional art-form that is executed with total disregard to financial gain or social importance - a story told for that story's sake. I referenced a Tom Misch album, Geography, and the intro track's voiceover to that effect, and what an impact it's had on me as I've striven to push myself creatively with photography over the last couple of years.

To that end, I took Jen's trip as a period of time where I could just tote the camera around, completely unfettered by anything and everything, and try to push the boundaries of what I normally like to shoot. And anyone that follows me on Instagram can attest that "normally like to shoot" is basically cars and architecture. One weekend afternoon I intended to take a trip to Ojai, and wound up staying on the PCH, up the 101 and ended up in Los Olivos three hours later by accident. I stopped along the way to take some pictures of a surf crew on the beaches of Malibu.

It was a humbling experience as I've seen enough surf photography on Instagram and other publications that I know what it should look like, but the execution of a completely different story. I gained an immediate new found respect for everyone that shoots humans in action, and the angles and vantage points required to capture milliseconds that embody the ethos of the actual moment and setting. Shooting stationary cars and buildings is, obviously, a whole lot easier. So while I got a handful of shots of surfers out in the swells, I fully embrace that a significant amount of practice is required before I hone that art.


Heading back after a lunch at Sides Hardware in Los Olivos, and a tall pour of wine at one of the local wineries while I read a few pages of my book on the back patio, I found Route 23 that connects the 101 and the PCH, and man am I glad I did. With sunset fast approaching, I pulled over a few times to try and capture some of the epic, rolling hills of Malibu and hazy early evening twilight. It's hard to describe how breathtaking the view west can be from the peaks of some of those makes you feel like an incredibly small but important part of that fleeting moment. As great as growing up o the on the East Coast was, I can't recall ever experiencing some of the feelings I've had out West when you sit in silence and take in the expansiveness of everything here.

It's been fun to push the photographic boundaries lately, and although my preference will always be to shoot inanimate objects, it was nice to get outside the comfort zone a bit. "Needs work", as they say, and it'll be a cool personal project over these next few months to shoot more of humanity in motion and expand how I look at the world through a lens.

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