The Creative Process

The Creative Process

Oregon Coast
June 2019 | Words and images by Spencer Fochtman

Spencer and Dan had spent the last year planning for this trip, and one of the biggest storms they would see all year was on the radar. Two weeks prior to the big day, Spencer sat in his parent's living room in Washington while visiting over Christmas. It was pouring rain outside as he looked out of the window and his eyes drifted down to the updated forecasts and tide tables, wondering if they would get their lucky break in weather.

After all, Dan had flown back home to Oregon all the way from Hawaii to celebrate Christmas with his family and see this idea come to reality. Finally, after checking forecasts every day for the past two weeks over the holidays the time had come for them to meet and see if the shot they'd been planning for so long was going to even be possible. A coastal beach house would act as their base camp for the week as Spencer and Dan sat down to review their plan one last time.

Spencer Fochtman Pours coffee

In the end, what was supposed to be a two week weather window turned into an opportunity that belonged to a single morning the very next day. A winter storm would arrive from Alaska later the same afternoon, bringing twenty-foot swell and more rain. Any chance they had of creating the image would be gone for another year, when the sun would again rise from precisely where they required to capture the image they spent so much time planning for. They awoke to the sounds of their alarm clocks at 4:00am.

"Well...here goes nothing", Spencer thought as he rolled out of bed and began double checking gear to ensure he had everything. Just forty-five minutes later, Spencer and Dan were carrying the kayak down an unmarked forest trail in complete darkness. As they approached the beach, their headlamps found the first glimpse of the wet and mossy rock-face they would soon be hauling gear down to the ocean. Neither of them could really make out how big the swell was beyond the shore break, but if the dense thumping of waves directly on the beach was any indicator, they were reminded to tread with caution.

Seeing Dan floating below this enormous structure, cradled in a massive beam of light as he shot up his fist holding the kayak paddle with excitement just solidified for Spencer the belief that so often it is the friends, family, and strangers who join us on these crazy adventures that make moments like this worth cherishing for years to come.

As darkness was slowly replaced by pale blue light, they noticed with high-tide there was no more beach left. They would have to time Dan's put-in just right when the shore break wasn't full-on, but this only lasted a few minutes at a time. Without much delay, Dan paddled out to sea as hues of pink and purple filled the Southern Oregon sky. That's when Spencer noticed - perfect weather!

Against all odds and with enough research, Spencer stood on the cliff of one sea stack as he watched Dan over 60ft below navigate the building swell. As Spencer began taking photographs of the scene he and Dan had spent the last year planning, it dawned on him that almost exactly one year ago they had met in Hawaii at a greek restaurant. Somehow in a bizarre series of events it lead them here, unravelling all of the complexities of trying to navigate a wildly rugged coast in the dead of winter - right in the middle of the west coast's peak surf season.

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