We had the good fortune of connecting with Diane Edmonds and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Diane, how does your business help the community?

My love of the ocean led me to become a surf photographer. Luckily, I have never relied on photography income to feed my family, so I’ve had the luxury to follow my passion and pursue the type of surf photography that makes a difference. Shooting non-profit events as a volunteer photographer has become my greatest joy. There are a number of local groups who put on surf/beach days for adults and children with special needs (Autism, Down Syndrome, blindness, spinal cord injuries, amputees, foster kids, etc.). These events take an army of volunteers to ensure the safety of the participants, but I feel like I have the best ‘job’ of all because I get to see the smiling faces over and over as I edit the photos. After a long day of shooting, I find new energy as soon as I upload my photos to my computer and I have been known to stay up most of the night editing these magical photos. For the parents and families of these special-needs surfers, seeing their loved ones catch a wave in the ocean or paddle a kayak or canoe is a thrill they never thought they would experience. And then, to have photos and videos of those life-changing moments to be able to re-live and share with others is very meaningful. I have the expensive cameras and lenses and skills to capture exceptional photos at these events and it brings me great joy to be able to share my blessings. The ocean is a healing place and these wonderful non-profit groups allow the special-needs community to experience its healing powers in a safe and fun way.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.

I was always interested in photography and studied it during college. I have taken many classes in Photoshop to learn better editing techniques and I attend photography lectures to be inspired by other photographers. My passion for the beach, the ocean, and waves led me to specialize in surf photography. I love chasing sunsets and exploring exotic beaches around the world. One of my daughters is a keen surfer so I started out shooting her and her buddies, and her high school surf team. Pretty soon I was buying faster cameras and bigger lenses – a necessity for capturing surf photos. I created a website, YourWavePics.com, and became pretty well-known at my local beaches, as well as some of the international places I visit frequently. Surf photography is a male-dominated industry and because we are all chasing a finite resource (waves – or at least ‘good waves’) there can be some hostility. Add in the mentality of many surfers that they don’t want ‘outsiders’ to show up at ‘their’ surf spot, and it can be a tricky dance to be where the waves are firing but not expose sensitive spots. I have received hate emails from surfers, which I must admit affected me more than I should have let them. In the end, I have remained true to my passion and look on my photos as an art form. I won’t post unedited photos, even though that would save me a lot of time. I feel that my reputation is only as good as the worst photo I have ever posted online. My dream gig would be as a travel photojournalist geared for ‘active seniors’.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Malibu Point Dume – Visit in Spring when giant yellow coreopsis blooms surround the trail. A 2-mile loop hike goes through the wildflowers on the headland. Or, climb down 102 stairs to a quiet sandy beach with tide pools at low tide. Very limited free parking in lot. No street parking in this exclusive neighborhood.

State Beaches north of Malibu – Pay to park or use State Beach parking pass. Steep climb down to beaches, but worth it! El Pescador State Beach, La Piedra State Beach, El Matador State Beach.

Ventura – Ventura has miles of great biking/walking trails along the oceanfront. Bike north to Emma Wood State Beach or south to Ventura Harbor. The main street through town has lots of antique and thrift stores, restaurants, galleries, etc.

Goleta – There are several nice State Beaches and campgrounds north of Santa Barbara – El Capitan (pictured) and Gaviota are good spots for a swim or picnic. Pay to park or use State Beach parking pass.

Lompoc – Jalama – It is a bit off the main road, but if you have time, head out to Santa Barbara County’s Jalama Beach. It has a nice campground and cabins, plus a general store with great burgers. Jalama is one of my all-time favorite beaches in California! If you can’t get a campsite, stay in nearby Lompoc. Pay to enter (Santa Barbara County Beach so State Parking pass does not work here.) Arroyo Grande – stop for an ice cream cone at Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab, 114 W. Branch St. 1 block off freeway. Lots of creative flavors, homemade waffle cones.

Avila Beach – Nice little beach town, good lunch or picnic stop. Just north of Pismo Beach.

Morro Bay Otters – Going down towards the harbor, turn right, pass the big power plant smoke stacks, towards “Morro Rock”. When you come to the dirt road where you can go right to the surf beach or left to the bay, go just to the left and park near the water. There are almost always sea otters floating in the kelp beds. Plan to spend a while watching the delightful otters! Morro Bay State Campground is just outside of town.

Montana de Oro State Park – free to enter, only about 20 mins. drive south from Morro Bay to Los Osos. Go south on South Bay Blvd, Right on Los Osos Valley Rd, turns into Pecho Valley Rd. Miles of undeveloped coastline with spectacular rock formations. Drive to the southernmost part of the park and park at Spooner’s Cove for a picnic. Just above, park and take the ‘Bluff Trail’, a level dirt trail that hugs the coast.

Bonus – if you time it right, the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant operator, PG&E, allows hikers to enter the grounds of the plant most days (closed Tues & Wed) to hike the Point Buchon Trail. Highly recommended! The most strenuous part of the hike is the first 5 mins where you have to hike up a steep road to get to the entrance – the rest of the hike is pretty level. For more info and to make hiking reservations (recommended during summer and busy weekends) http://pge.modwest.com/pgereservations/trailschild.php?pid=4

Cambria – Moonstone Beach – nice level boardwalk along beach. Free parking, public bathroom. San Simeon Hearst Castle tours – book in advance. Walk on beach and short pier in San Simeon.

Elephant Seals – Just north of San Simeon at Piedras Blancas, stop at the Elephant Seal Vista Point to observe huge elephant seals all along the beach.

November (beginning of cycle) Subadult and juvenile animals, mostly males, are here for the fall haul-out. Mature males begin arriving at the end of the month.
December – Bulls continue to arrive and fight for dominance over pupping areas. Females begin to arrive. Birthing and breeding begin. The first birth is usually mid-month.
January – Females continue to arrive. Birthing numbers peak in the last half of the month.
February – The last births occur as some females are weaning pups born in January, mating and leaving the beach. The peak of mating is around Valentine’s Day.
March – Last adults leave.  Weaned pups remain onshore and explore nearshore waters. Pups fast for 8-10 weeks.
April – Females and juveniles begin arriving for the molt. Most young of the year leave at this time.
May – The peak of the molt is around May 1. By the end of May, females and juveniles have completed the molt and left the beach.
June & July – Subadult males arrive to begin the molt.
August – Male molting is completed. The beaches have the fewest seals, but some of the biggest are present.
September & October – Young-of-the-year and juveniles arrive for the fall haul-out. October marks the third population peak on the beach. Big Sur Sand Dollar Beach, just south of Big Sur. At low tide, nice to walk along the beach. Steep trail from parking lot at top, but worth it! Pay parking lot, or a few free spots on highway. Bathrooms in parking lot.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – McWay Falls Short walk to see one of the most photographed spots in California, with a waterfall that drops down to the beach. Can get crowded. $10. to park. Pfeiffer Beach Pfeiffer Beach may be one of the most photographed spots in Big Sur, but it’s also one of the hardest to find. Sycamore Canyon Road, which leads down to the beach, has no sign on the main road. At certain times of year, you can capture a photo of the sunset through the arch rock. Look for purple sand! The tide is strong, so swimming is not advised. Sycamore Canyon Road is a quarter mile south of Big Sur Station and 1.1 miles north of the Ventana entrance. Turn west on Sycamore Canyon and follow for 2.2 miles to the parking area. This road is very narrow, so drive slowly! $12. to park.

Nepenthe Restaurant – A burger costs about $20.00 but the setting and view is worth a lunch stop! Large outdoor patio is popular for having cocktails at sunset. Parking lot can get crowded. Garrapata State Park Garrapata Beach is a top spot for photography or just relaxing on the sand. The rock formations at the edge of the water are fascinating; beautiful sunsets. There are coves and a cave at the south end; during the wet months, there’s a waterfall at the north end of the beach. To access Garrapata Beach, take Highway One about 8 miles south of Carmel. 1.4 miles south of Granite Canyon Bridge or 1.2 miles north of Rocky Point Restaurant, park by the side of the road. On the west side of Highway One, you should see Gate 19. Follow the left fork of the trail, which meanders downhill and leads to a staircase down to Doud Creek. Walk alongside the creek to get to the beach. Andrew Molera State Beach, just north of Big Sur. Stunning undeveloped beach – 20 mins or so walk along level trail from parking lot. Lots of large driftwood that visitors use to create teepees, forts, etc. Trail can get washed out during winter. You may see deer on the trail to the beach. There used to be a walk-in campground but it has been closed for a few years. Pay to park or use State Parks Pass. Bathrooms in parking lot. Carmel Point Lobos State Park just south of Carmel. Beautiful coastal walk – parking available in many places along trail. Pack a lunch and find a shady picnic table. Pay to enter or use State Parks Pass.

Monterey – Monterey Bay Coastal Trail is a great flat walking/biking trail that goes for over 18 miles, from Seaside, past Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey Bay Aquarium, to Pacific Grove. See sea lions, even deer along the way. Sea Otter Sightings, Moss Landing State Beach The otters floating near Moss Landing State Beach add to the laid-back surfer vibe at the southern end of the parking lot. Looking east towards the marina, you’ll see a large group (called a “raft”) of these beloved critters that reside in this spot year-round. Whale Watching from Moss Landing Boats leave from Moss Landing, about 20 mins. north of Monterey. Because of the deep water channel just offshore, this area tends to attract lots of humpback whales during the year. We have seen groups of humpbacks lunge feeding, where they swim in a circle to herd bait and then several whales shoot out of the water with their mouths open to gulp water and fish. We have seen several pods of Orcas here also, depending on time of year. Best whale watching place I have ever seen! I highly recommend Blue Ocean Whale Watching and Sea Goddess Whale Watching.

Santa Cruz Wilder Ranch State Park – Just north of Santa Cruz, beautiful trail along cliffs overlooking rugged beaches. Can ride bikes on dirt trail. Nude beach at the end of the trail! Pay to park or use State Parks Pass. Limited free parking on highway at several trailheads. Pescadero Ano Nuevo State Park Just north of Santa Cruz, gorgeous undeveloped bluffs you can hike or bike. Pay parking in lot or use State Parks pass.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

My favorite non-profit group is Best Day Foundation. Best Day puts on surf/beach days for kids and young adults with special needs – Autism, Down Syndrome, blindness, spinal cord injuries, Cerebral Palsy, etc. They have chapters in Orange County, LA County, San Diego, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and New Jersey – 100% run by volunteers. The kids develop confidence and self-esteem by participating in activities including surfing, bodyboarding, kayaking, canoeing, SUP, snow sports and more. I can’t say enough good things about the people who run this organization and its volunteers – they love interacting with the kids and create so many smiles and positive experiences throughout each event. Each kid is paired with a ‘beach buddy’, who cheers them on and escorts them from one activity to another. Greeters help each kid put on a wetsuit, helmet and lifejacket. Experienced watermen and women take the kids out on the water on various types of watercraft. Other volunteers set up and serve the snacks and lunch and put together the goodie bags. Behind-the-scenes volunteers secure donations, venues, sponsors, and ambassadors, maintain the website and computer registrations, maintain the equipment and drive it to each event and put it all away. It really does take an army of volunteers to make these events run smoothly and safely and they always welcome new volunteers. Some kids just want to build sand castles or play in the shallow water and splash. Others want to try each activity – over and over. And some kids have meltdowns and have to go home early – Best Day understands that this is all part of the special-needs community. Lunch is provided for the participants and their families as well as volunteers, followed by a super-fun awards ceremony. Volunteers line up in 2 parallel lines and each kid runs through the middle as their name is called, with great cheering and high fives all down the line. Participants are given goodie bags and a special medal is placed around their necks. Most volunteers say that they had the ‘best day ever’ when they have been a part of these events!

Website: www.YourWavePics.com

Image Credits
Diane Edmonds, YourWavePics.com

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