Six or seven years ago, I received a print of the Hermosa Beach pier. In retrospect, it was an unremarkable photo of one of the least famous piers in Southern California. But I loved the image nonetheless. It reminded me of home, particularly after I moved to the Midwest in 2013.
When I picked up my first DSLR in 2014, it wasn’t clear that the Hermosa Beach pier would be the holy grail of my new hobby. At the time, I was focused on other things, like trying to spend one night in all 50 states in a year. However, I eventually decided that I wanted to take a photo that rivaled, if not eclipsed, the print that was now perched above my bed.
It seemed like a relatively easy objective – notwithstanding the 1,750 miles between my apartment in Chicago and Hermosa Beach. I expected that I would emerge with a “keeper” – a print-worthy photo – after a couple of trips to Southern California. Three years later, it was evident that I had underestimated the challenge.
As it turns out, print-worthy photos take both patience and persistence. I visited the pier more than 20 times before I finally took “Beginning’s End,” which now sits in my gallery. Each time I visited the pier, I developed a sensitivity to new factors that ultimately contributed to the final shot: from obvious elements like the tides, the clouds, and even the position of the sun to more mysterious factors like the slope of the sand at the water’s edge.
Through this protracted process, I became a better photographer. I’ve used many of the techniques I learned photographing the Hermosa Beach pier to dictate when, where, and how I shoot when I’m on the road. I’m now more sensitive to external factors, including luck, than I was when I first developed an interest in photography in 2014. Most importantly, I have a stronger appreciation for how much time and energy it takes to get conditions that warrant print-worthy photographs.
With “Beginning’s End” now hanging on my wall, I figured that I would share just a few of the hundreds of photos I took of the pier over the last several years.