Ocean Beach

The Outer Sunset, San Francisco

Tom Zimberoff


All photographs ©2022–2024 Tom Zimberoff

The liminal interface of seawater, sand, and sky inspires a construct of consciousness, the space in which everything appears, the light by which everything is seen. It beckons my camera.

Throughout my career, I have focused primarily on portraits, still lifes of people. That, in a nutshell, is how I define portraiture. Once in a while, I’d point my lens at a landscape, seldom before at the sea.

I used to think of the beach as a background. Now it’s a theme. With a fresh eye, the upshot of my fifteen-year-long hiatus from photography, and given the proximity of my Outer Sunset neighborhood to Ocean Beach in San Francisco, I’ve discovered a rhythmic confluence of color and time that pulls me in like a riptide. As evanescent as it is powerful, this phenomenon can only be depicted with the unblinking eye of a camera adjusted to thwart its mechanical intent to stop time.

As paradoxical as it might seem, the most visually appealing characteristics of movement, for me, notwithstanding a dance performance, can only be seen when arrested and confined within the two-dimensional frame of a photograph. With this in mind, I can combine two photographic techniques to achieve a singular effect. One freezes time; the other melts it. There is no other way to see this illusion short of psychedelics.