From The Wreckage
In Dec 2021, a series of rain storms hit SoCal. An old riverboat called the Newport Princess, which had just capsized while moored near the Long Beach coastline, was broken apart during the first of these storms and would litter the shore with it's debris for the next few weeks. Though the debris was quickly scooped from the waterline and grouped up by bulldozers, the piles would stay on the sands for days and weeks before being cleared out.
I went to the beach the first afternoon I read about the boat sinking, right after work on Dec 15. I'd continue to visit the beach to see what had washed up 3 more times. I wasn't the only one checking out the spectacle. One man in his late 20s or early 30s said he saw the piles from his beach side run and came later with his friend to see what treasures he could find quipping that they were pirates. An older gentleman was scavenging for useable mechanical parts. His companion was lamenting how she enjoyed the sight of the boat from her home while it lied in heaps among us. My friend Damion Sanchez had shifted the focus of his photographic exploration of Cherry Beach towards the demise of the Newport Princess, since it was the biggest thing happening to the beach at the time (follow him on ig at @3damion to keep up with his forthcoming project). I woke up at sunrise to photograph the beach with him on New Year's morning after visiting by myself at sunset on New Year's Eve.
I saw huge masses of wreckage 20 feet tall at their highest point, individual pieces of driftwood strewn across the water line, and everything in between. Some pieces looked like parts of the once proud boat, like a white curving staircase and fiberglass surfacing, while others like a beat up couch or white, painted door could have been part of a quaint beach house. Walking among all this on the beach reminded me of films like Castaway where the audience finds themselves stuck on a desert island with little hope of rescue, with a return to civilization a distant dream.
I usually let my intuition guide me when photographing and even when just deciding to go out to take pictures. At the time, it just felt right to visit the remains of this boat and shoot it on color film even though I normally shoot b&w. I figured that the demise of the boat felt a lot like a bookend of two years dominated by a pandemic. In documenting it, I was navigating these thoughts the best way I know how, through artistic expression.
I'm sure this process is partly that my mind is easily held by concepts and likes to search for them as a way of attributing meaning, but I also don't think that discredits the ideas and connections generated. Coming from a technical background, I firmly believe there is something about art that can't be quantified or analyzed in a truly comprehensive way. By following my instincts to create, processing my feelings to evaluate, and connecting/sharing with people in the process, photography becomes more than the mechanics of exposure, composition, and timing. For me it's method of living intentionally.
I hope you enjoy the photographs in the gallery attached - also hi! This is my first blog post. Feel free to pass it around if you like. I'll be sharing more short form one-off photo/art projects and stories on here, so stay tuned! Especially for a potential zine based on this project. Anyway, thank you for being here.
If there is something I want to say - this is where it will go. -CS