Photography has presented me with amazing opportunities. Most recently, I have enjoyed working with a non-profit magazine company founded by my friend Brianna Ortega. The magazine is called Sea Together. It’s “an annual, creative print publication featuring the stories, opinions, and creativity of women surfers around the world.” That comes straight from their mission and vision statements. Brianna has created something special that I hope will continue long into the future.
I met Brianna at Portland State University in 2014. I overheard her talking to someone about surfing, and that piqued my interest. After class, I walked over, introduced myself and asked if I could film her surfing sometime. Looking back on it, that was a slightly bizarre way to introduce myself. I imagine what she heard was, ”Hello, my name is Ty. Can I record you in a wetsuit?”
Later that week, we drove out to the coast to try filming Bri in the water. We went to two spots. I setup my crappy $60 tripod from freshman year and slapped a borrowed 300mm lens on my camera and started filming. Almost on a queue, a 6-foot 5 surfer confronts me. I explained I was filming for a class and that I had just stumbled across these surfers. He told me to get lost or else he’d throw my camera in the ocean. I’m not a confrontational person, so I evacuated the beach and started walking up a nearby hill where I thought I might find a spot to look down on the surfers. Unfortunately, the hill was covered in houses. Having just been kicked off the beach though, I felt determined to get footage no matter the cost.
There was a house that didn’t have any fencing around the backyard, and there was a walkway that lead from the curb all the way to what looked to be a cliff. I nervously walked down the path with my gear. When I got to the other end and looked down, I realized it was just a 5ft drop down to a water drainage system. I set down my gear and jumped down into the canal. I quickly found a small opening in the trees that perfectly framed the dozen or so surfers down in the water. What an amazing stroke of luck! Quickly, I set up my tripod again and zoomed in as far as that 300mm would allow and started filming.
That experience was just like every portrayal of surf culture I had ever seen in movies. I was hooked. Living in Portland, it does take some planning and time to be able to film surfers out on the coast. When I found the opportunity to drive to the coast it was always with Brianna.
Fast forward to 2017. Brianna tells me about her idea for this online magazine. What she described sounded amazing, and it also seemed possible. From the start, she knew that this project was going to be about uniting women across the globe through their shared interest in surfing. I wanted to support that vision in any way I could. A few months later, Brianna started texting me about making a video to use in a Kickstarter campaign. The online magazine had received so much positive feedback and support that Brianna had decided to print it. I was hesitant to make the video. As a man, I was concerned that I was taking away an opportunity from a woman who could do the job. I struggled with making a decision for a few days, but was encouraged by Brianna and my girlfriend at the time.
We shot and edited a film over the course of a few weeks, and then published the Kickstarter campaign. This was the first time I had ever created a film with such purpose behind it. Something about that video worked though, because the Kickstarter was funded in 10 days. 214 amazing individuals believed in the truth behind the video and over $10,000 was donated in an effort to bring this magazine to life. I don’t think it mattered what the video looked like, or sounded like, so long as the people watching it understood what they were supporting. I am so thankful to have played a small role in the creation of this magazine.
In August, Brianna put together a launch party in Portland, she asked me to photograph the event. I went and met some of the women that shared their stories in the magazine. During a panel discussion, Brianna called me out and shared with everyone that I created the video for the campaign. I wasn’t expecting that to happen, but to my relief I heard people clapping and caught a few smiles. That experience is what made me want to share my involvement in this project.
Sea Together just concluded their submission process for Issue 002 earlier this week. I am excited to read the stories that have been shared and to hopefully be a part of making the magazine an even bigger success. They are still accepting submissions for blogs and Instagram posts, so if you would like to share click here.
Here’s a few photographs I took of a print proof of the first issue. These images were used to update Kickstarter Backers and on Sea Together’s website.