For this issue of Tiny Atlas Quarterly we wanted to look at the West Coast in a broader context, as in, West Coast of any ocean. We were curious to see, if we reached out to our network of photographers and storytellers with this idea, would we come back with a uniform story?
We did find many visual and lifestyle parallels in our stories and, no-surprise, lots of stunner images of wide-open spaces across five continents. One favorite feature of mine is the personal narrative and photoset by Max Imrie, from his time living with his pregnant girlfriend in Esquibien. Max’s words bring to life the quiet hamlets of Brittany just as vividly and personally as his pictures do, making me dream of summers on France’s western edge.
Nature lovers will similarly be filled with wanderlust while scrolling through Dan Tom’s feature from an extended stay in the Chilean Patagonia in Torres Del Paine National Park. Like so many in his generation, Dan felt it imperative to quit his job for a time and pursue his passions for travel and photography. The myth of the lone explorer is alive and well in the multi-island story from the Faroe Islands by Tyson Wheatley, sheer altitude and verdant waterfalls included with stunning graphics from designer Mark Sloan.
In addition to wide-open spaces abroad, we took a look for the first time at the big cities back home along our own coastline here in California. From San Francisco we came back with a personal vision of a techie and outdoorsy city by photographer (and former startup marketer) Helena Price. And we have an artist’s Los Angeles from first-time feature director and established photographer, Amanda Marsalis. In addition we are sharing a road-trip to Baja where we travelled from a Chicano San Diego, through a delicious and vibrant Tijuana to the exploding lifestyle and food getaway region, Valle de Guadalupe.
One thing of note about west coasts that we see day in and day out on #mytinyatlas is that people take pictures at precipices overlooking the ocean. A visual trope so common I thought we might look beyond the cliché to find a deeper meaning. Living on the west coast (of anywhere) there is a physical urgency often to get to the coast. And when reach the coast, simply to look out. So much of the West Coast of the world is rough, wild, cliffy, energized by crashing waves.
Cataloged for thousands of years in paintings, and now, many thousands of times a day on social media. We stand before the coast in a type of contemporary worship. But what is it we are worshiping? The smallness of humanity, the power of the ocean? Or is it just the relief of electrolytes blasting our faces and the deliverance of space for self-reflection in our lives? Too often today, our time spent in nature is distorted by our devices. We moderate our experiences with our phones and our wearable tech. To quote Joel Flory (one of the founders of VSCO) from our absorbing interview with him in the Portraits section, “…if you spend too much time face down to your screen, you are going to miss the moments, in life and in pictures”.
As a thematic question, this West Coast issue is our stab of an answer to our own question, is there a global West Coast? We look forward to seeing your version as always on our tag #mytinyatlas.