Monday, October 2, 2023

It All Came Down To This: The Perfect Waves on a Mendo Beach and One Man’s Mission to Take A Legendary Surf Picture

A peak at the perfect set [All photographs by Eric Lee Burch]

It was exactly one year ago today. The culmination of years of hard work and dedication to surf photography had finally paid off. Forecasts were calling for solid waves. Consensus was a certain undisclosed reef was most definitely going to be the call. I was excited!

I was the first to arrive on scene, and fielded phone calls from my friends about how it looked. Others had the same idea and were starting to hike in as well. As for the surf? My gosh… all I can say is that I’ve waited a long time for a moment like this. And at this spot too.

Having “tested the waters” a couple of times before this day, I kind of had an idea of where I wanted to post up. With Arlo, I wanted to give him a place where he could explore tide pools, build funky driftwood things and be engaged with me. As father, his well-being has always been my first priority. We had learned to balance my photography with building fun time memories on the coast.

Arlo exploring the driftwood

Soon enough, several folks bobbed in the lineup. Rights were fire; better shape and set up for longer rides. Set waves were wild and beautiful and big. Even the smaller ones were perfect though. Seriously, I couldn’t have asked for a better day!

For the next couple of hours, the session went down.

Gosh, I think it might have been a little after noon when the tide shifted and the waves went from A+ to a C. One by one, everyone came in. It was good timing anyway. Arlo was hungry. It was time to head back over the hill and beat the incoming storm.

- Advertisement -

What’s cool about that day was: I made a few new contacts and was also able to get all of my photos from the session out to those out surfing. But more than that, it was when I realized a whole new world was about to open up for me in the world of surf photography.

Eric Lee Burch is an eighth-generation Mendocino County resident who spent 15 years as a photojournalist and graphic designer for The Willits News, Lake County Record-Bee and The Ukiah Daily Journal. His work has also appeared in the Willits Nickel & Dime, The Mendocino Travelers Guide and 101 Things to do in Mendocino County. Though Burch lives a somewhat quieter life these days, he continues to write and shoot photos; capturing the essence of Mendocino County and California’s north coast. Check out his Substack if you would like to read more of his musings.

- Advertisement -


Join the Conversation

Today's News


News from the Week