One of my favourite things about the photographers life, is often ending up in places you may have never gone, doing things you’d rarely expect. Me being a naturally anxious person however can make this quite interesting. On August 24th, I’m boarding a plane to Tofino to work on an awesome and uncharted project (that I can’t wait to share with you all, by the way), and I’m hella nervous. Excited! But trying to calm my worrisome mind by attempting to envision the finished project, and how I can accomplish it.
Once my dear friend Whirly Bird scooped me up from the Comox airport and we had started making our way to Tofino on the windy twin laned highways, I knew I had to shift out of this anxious state. I could already feel the vibe here was slower, calmer. In order to not drive myself crazy, I would have to surrender to this place, and massively go with the flow. A friend who recently moved to the island from Calgary later shared with me that she also had to make this transition into “island time”.
From the very first location we were shooting at I was floored by the tremendous beauty out there. Endless stretches of sandy beaches, rich forests, and of course Tofino’s signature fog that would roll in and out faster than you can imagine. I was pinching myself on the daily as my friend brought me to all her favourite places. Each night I crashed hard and slept solidly from the adventurous days and the hypnotic rhythmic sounds of the waves floating through my hotel balcony window. Often dreaming of the rich and wild beauty that surrounded me.
Speaking of wild, I’m pretty sure my hair was about 2-3 times more voluminous out there thanks to the misty sea air/humidity. Within the first couple of days there I gave up on my hair straightener and eventually on make up. I noticed most gals out there didn’t wear mascara and I soon learned why when I attempted to surf. I say attempted because you cannot call what I did surfing. I’ll admit I’m not naturally athletic, but the waves out there are mighty and they WILL unapologetically pummel you. I had a blast, but gave up after fully boxing myself with my surf board. I may try again one day but will most likely stick to boogie boarding.
Can I just say how god damn powerful and majestic those waves are however? The power! The rhythms! The sound! How they can pile up on each other and suddenly be massive! It’s truly amazing and mesmerizing. A few days near the end of the trip we were out on some high rocks along the shore that were being smashed by these tremendous waves, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never been quite so nervous while working.
My favourite thing about this place is how nature is king. People live their lives according to the weather and the waves. Giving up everything to live minutes from the beach and work to surf. Often living in their cars or camping just to enjoy all the beauty Tofino has to offer. My hometown is vastly different. The culture here is more about living to work. It’s a good life, and teeming with opportunity, yet you usually have to make a conscious effort to be out amongst true wilderness. Many of us will make that good ol’ hour and a half drive to the mountains to relax in spots often many other people are also trying to enjoy.
In Tofino there is just “so much room to be” as my dear friend Whirly would say. Standing on Long Beach there is probably at least 50 m of sand to even reach the water, and width wise it stretches a impressive 10 km’s. I rarely spent time in “town” as most of the best spots are in nature, but I did have some fabulous eats at The Hatch and Sea Monster Noodle Bar. Another fave spot was “Tofitian”, a hip coffee spot with very cool souvenirs. A sticker I picked up that’s now on my water bottle says “end of the road culture” and it just suits this place so well.
By the end of the trip I was ready to go home, but I was not ready to leave all the beauty of this place behind. I only started to feel better when we started to descend over the Alberta rockies. I knew in that moment Calgary was home for a reason, and a place I love. But I would dearly miss the salty sea air, the mysterious fog, those majestic waves, and even my wild island hair.