Discovering Waves and Film in El Salvador
Playa El Tunco, El Salvador
Cultured During a Digital Revolution
Christmas cards are a sacred tradition in my family. Each December we line up, smile, and my dad rattles off his favorite line. "Take a million, it's digital!" As a man who grew up on film, he still marvels at the power of digital. "Machine gun it!" he says to that year's photographer.
I find myself moving in the opposite direction. I grew up a digital native but, as I've moved through my film school studies, I've started to think about the value of the craft's analog "limitations".
A very smiley Williams family for our 2017 Christmas card.
Vamos a El Salvador
After finishing principal photography for one of my biggest productions of the semester at school, I decided to use my spring break for reconnecting with two of my favorite hobbies; surf and travel. I needed to disconnect from my phone and all things electronic, but at the same time I wanted to have photos to remember. Coincidentally, while I was preparing for my venture, my dad found a box full of his old film cameras from the 70's and 80's. Without any experience in film practices, I bought two rolls of film to bring with me as my only means for capturing the people and places I encountered. I've included every photo below to display my successes and failures.
The setup for the trip: Canon AE-1 with a 50mm lens
Kodak Portra 800
*Raw, unedited, straight from the processing lab. In the order they were taken.
Vegan gem found in Panama Airport
Sailing this Copa Airline beauty
Landed in San Salvador at 11pm then took a 45 minute taxi to my hostel in El Sunzal
Luis, my Costariqueño brother, enjoying his ceviche on top of a balcony in El Tunco
Post swim - Luis wanted to take a stab at being behind the camera
Kings of La Playa
Some local rastas we met. They showed us where we could get the best view of the sunset and surfers.
View from the top
Catch of the Day
A tourist had gone spearfishing and came walking down the beach with his dinner. The rastas were so hyped that they hustled down the rock and helped him carry his gear back to his place. Look close, fish is on the bottom right.
Our hostel had a mini ramp. Bareback and Flip flops, I tried to remember how to skate. Luis snuck his way behind the camera again.
Long, slopey, and full of stoke - A Logger’s Paradise
Head high, offshore winds, and only a few people to write home about it.
Two for $1. I wish I could have put a number on how many I ate
It took me a solid 30 seconds to adjust my exposure but he stood perfectly still until he heard the shutter.
Table of Foreigners
Hungary, France, Rhode Island, Spain, Brazil, Germany, and Netherlands spooning mounds of hostel-made Paella
“Shit, did that just take a picture?”
“I think there’s bats in here.”
“There’s for sure bats in here.”
Lil’ Rhodie trogging through some bat shit invested caves.
I really regret taking so many cave photos. I felt like I was forcing the shot too much. Lil’ Rhodie snapped this one
The only hermit that didn’t escape from the frame fast enough
It feels odd trying to caption words with words
Cruising in a chicken bus to downtown La Libertad
I like to think that these chicks went to a large pasture where they grew old talking about how they all met as youngsters in that green basket…
Ana searched and searched for $8 dollar lobster. She found it.
Hammocks and half pipes holding down our humble hostel
This little Salvadoreña was bringing bricks up and down this hill. Not even that was enough wipe the smile off her face
Kodak TRI-X 400TX
*Raw, unedited, straight from the processing lab. In the order they were taken
“Shit, was that the first photo of the roll?”
Literally the most stoked and in shape 40 year old I’ve ever met. Surfed 3 times per day, everyday.
Sad and tired, these horses carried fat tourists down the cobble stone beaches.
Stoke Level: 1000
High fives all around after this spontaneous jam session finished in the streets. A nearby tourist is not impressed - Downtown, El Tunco
“Damnit, did I forget to put the shutterlock on?”
No matter how far you go, there will always be locals posing for the insta post
I don’t know if it’s because it’s closer to the equator of what, but every sunset was absolutely gorgeous. Too bad I had already shot through my color roll of film
Same sunset, more reflections
*sets the 10 second timer switch on the camera*
“Why isn’t my shutter doing anything?”
I’d sell shaved ice too if it meant sitting with this view all day
La Semana Santa
People from the capital flocked to the coast to celebrate the week before Easter
It was a pretty common occurrence for these creatures to lose the race against the tide. Definitely the most puffed one I saw during my trip
Antonio Y Familia
Antonio, the one legged, surf pioneering, photographer of Sunzal. A legend in his own mind
From Ear to Ear
A picture I look back on to relive the multitude of happiness I felt during my trip. Reconnecting with the ocean really puts me in a better place. I rented a shortboard when surfing La Bocana during sunrise and this Longboard when I’d paddle out at El Sunzal before sunset.
Note: Oddly enough I had no intention of doing (nor do I know how to do) any kind of double/overlay exposure. Just a weird/fun mistake on my end.
La Pupuseria: El Cielo
Carmen, was my main lady when it came to pupusas. I went to her 2-3 times per day
I met Emma, the stone gathering, bracelet making, stick-n-poke tattoo drawing nomad the first day of my trip. It was super rad seeing her everyday to practice my Spanish. On my last day she tried to sell me 5 custom bracelets for 25 dollars, but I insisted I would pay her nothing less than $35. I was always bad at negotiations.
This guy smiled and shakka-ed at me everyday when I would walk by him. The only time I saw him not smile was in this picture.
This gatito was our hostel’s evening entertainment
Un Estilo Bueno
Rudy, the steeziest local logger of El Sunzal. He was the first one up on every outside bomb that came through. His toes were no strangers to the nose. He was also dating a Swedish tourist girl while his Swiss wife was visiting her family at home…
From the Trees
Passing by unfinished projects on my daily walk
No pile of dust, unpaid bill, or clogged toilet was any match for this hostel manager’s work ethic.
Back in San Diego to a clean kitchen
Still had a few shots on this roll. My boys’ and my house
The Shaggin’ Wagon was missing the beach while I was gone
El Salvador was rad. But I don’t think I laid in anything as comfy as this couch
“Man, I just took another picture didn’t I?”
All in All
I loved every bit of taking photos on film. To be honest, the medium's limitations provided a platform to amplify my creativity. I was really forced to look at my exposures, compositions, and subjects prior to pulling the trigger. I'm amazed by how rich the color, grain, and highlight characteristics become when they are developed. People always talk about the "film look" when shooting or grading their films. In a digital world, we constantly try to achieve a style that was from the past. But I had never fully understood the " film look" until I had this experience. I needed this trip. Not only as a mental break from the world, but to also explore my industry's analog past.