Ryan Tatar is the Californian surfer/analogue photographer behind the fantastic blog, Shakas and Singlefins. We hooked him up with an LC-A and a Sprocket Rocket to capture the landscapes and surf culture in California. We also caught up with him and asked him about his approach to photography and what inspires him.
Name: Ryan Tatar
City/Area: San Francisco Bay Area, California
1. Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure, I’m 32 and I live in northern California. I’ve lived in a bunch of different places in the USA now, I’m a surfer, photographer, and recently a husband.
2. What is it that you love about analogue photography and how long have you been doing it for?
I returned to film from digital about 2 years ago. I really only shoot digital now to capture everyday moments, usually on my iPhone, but for any serious work or artistic expression I use film. I just like it more… I think it looks better and it helps tell the story I’m trying to tell. It has more feeling… more depth… more life. I enjoy working towards developing the skills required to capture the right image on the right equipment with the right film in the right environment. Everyone also mentions the process and I really do enjoy taking my time to get a proper frame rather than rattling off rapid fire digital shots, then sifting thru the thousand pics to select a few gems. I like that the creative part is a mixed bag of preparation, happy accidents, and proper composition… rather than sitting in front of a computer editing. I use a computer a lot already, so to get away from that is a good thing for me. In the end though, it just looks better to me.
3. Do you have a favorite location to shoot at?
I used to enjoy shooting around Swamis in Encinitas California. More recently, it’s Big Sur and Santa Cruz. Although, I just got back from Maui, and wish I had more time to shoot the surf culture there.
5. What did you like about the LOMO LC-A+ when you were out shooting with it?
All of my cameras are somewhat bulky and are fully manual, so it takes some time and/or effort to get a proper exposure. The Lomo LC-A+ is the only automatic camera I own and it’s compact, so it’s nice to bring around when you don’t think you’re going to shoot. Plus, its lens is very unique, not too precise or sharp. I’m very impressed with it and all films I’ve used with it seem to work out very well.
6. What is it about surfing and surf culture that inspires you to photograph it?
Life is busy these days. It’s common to follow the status quo, and jump into the rat race, and whether conscious of it or not, to try and accumulate things and stuff. In today’s society, many folks don’t ever think about another kind of wealth that is more closely tied to a simpler life. Surfing connects people with nature, and there is something very intrinsic about the act that gets folks to start thinking about those things. It can become a driving force in their life to enable a lifestyle that allows them to experience it as often as possible. I’m really inspired by surf culture from a few decades ago. The style of the waveriding, the lifestyle, the counter culture. That spirit still exists today. I try and capture that slightly nostalgic feeling with my photographs and using the right medium (film) helps me try and capture that. I tend to shoot things that simply just interest me or invoke a specific feeling, like wide-open spaces, a rusty old surf rig, an undriven road, or a salt stained single fin leaning against a wall.
7. How did you like shooting with the Sprocket Rocket ?
This camera is a great tool for capturing landscapes and other unique vantage points. By travelling along the California coastline, especially Big Sur with its wide open sky, it’s hard to capture the spirit of a place with a 35mm camera. This camera rather nicely is able to help you do that. The images are also beautiful, and it is more sturdy than some of the other toy cameras out there, so you can throw it in a bag and not worry about it too much.
8. What’s an average day like for you?
Good coffee, work and sometimes play (if I’m lucky an early AM or late evening surf), and then home to my beautiful wife. On the weekends, I’ll go surfing or load up my Duluth pack with film, water, and food, and disappear into the mountains by myself. Then return, and maybe watch a film.
9. What upcoming projects do you currently have up your sleeve?
I’ve got a few things I’m working on… A new article on cold water surf in Huck magazine, I’m showing some work in Hollywood for Billabong’s Design for Humanity event, and also showing a couple of pieces at the Vans Joel Tudor event in Spain this summer. I’m a featured artist for this spring’s ladies line at Azul by MOUSSY in Japan, so If you’re over there I have some installations up. This summer, my goal is to work on getting some stuff in a few galleries in the right places and right now as I type this, I’m also scanning in slides for a new Hawaiian inspired photo essay also shot on film. The working title is called Campfires & Ukuleles. I started shooting it in Maui this month as we travelled around. I will post all this stuff on my portfolio site and my blog. Check it out if you want.
10. What would be your advice to other analogue photographers?
Some of us tend to forget. Scan your own negatives.