My Story

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Beach party

Jon Davatz loves to document the beach life and wildlife on the doorstep of his Southern California home

I started taking photos a couple of years ago with my smartphone. Initially I just took a few occasional pictures, but it quickly became a passion.

One day I was on the San Clemente Pier in Southern California, taking pictures of surfers. A young woman in a wetsuit and with a surfboard  under her arm approached me and asked: “Did you just take pictures of me”? I said I had, and I thought I was in trouble, but she said: “That’s awesome! I haven’t had pictures taken of me surfing for ten years – would  you mind sending me some of them?” I was embarrassed showing her pictures I’d taken with a 5MP camera, but she loved them. I decided there and then to buy to a D-SLR camera.

4[1]What I like the most is to document the beachfront communities of Southern California. Some photos are straightforward beach shots that shows surfers, joggers or people fishing. But with better gear, and inspired by other photographers, I also started to shoot wildlife, and get into more abstract photography.

Impromptu subjects

I often like to have people or animals crossing my viewfinder, which adds dynamism to images. One day I was taking pictures of a local rock formation overlooking the ocean that looks like a human head. As I was framing the shot this guy stepped in front of me to observe the scene, so I used him as an impromptu model. 4[1]

Some of my best photo shoots are when I encounter the unexpected. I often just happen upon an opportunity, such as lobster cages ready to be dropped into the ocean; once I came across a couple of rare vintage cars, waiting to be shot by a professional photographer.

My playgrounds are the cities in South Orange County, between San Clemente and Laguna Beach. There are plenty  of opportunities to take photos of surfers, beaches, harbours, sunsets and wildlife. Dana Point harbour is home to many birds, including cormorants, herons, egrets and pelicans. I love to watch the birds almost praying for breakfast, and eventually getting something to eat. There are also great shots to be had at the many local festivals.

4[1]I love to experiment with my photography, and I want to continue learning and improving my technique.  In particular I want to take more wildlife photos. To overcome the occasional bout of ‘photographer’s block’ I’ll call to mind a specific color or subject for inspiration. And I don’t worry about what people will think when I’m taking pictures – the important things for me are to have fun and be inspired.

Read this article in the #40 edition of NPhoto Magazine (UK Publication)