Ocean Beach

The Outer Sunset, San Francisco

Tom Zimberoff
5 min readJun 25, 2022


All photographs ©2022 Tom Zimberoff / All Rights Reserved

The liminal interface of seawater, sand, and sky inspires a construct of consciousness, the space in which everything appears. 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 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 live 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.

Artists share their vision, their mind’s eye, by creating windows. A photograph is a window left open. To look through it is to sustain a lucid dream. Like a mirage, what you see is real enough to describe, real enough to be defined in a dictionary. It looks like a body of water. But can you measure its depth?

“Giant Camera” (the walk-in camera obscura next to the Cliff House overlooking San Francisco’s Ocean Beach) / Notice the Earthshine reflected by the entire Moon despite the brighter reflection of sunlight creating a crescent shape. In a large print, you can make out individual birds perched atop the rocks out to sea. / ©2022 Tom Zimberoff

Could I be the last photographer to go digital in the 21st century? Despite not even shooting film for far too long, my sole camera was an iPhone until one year before writing this…



Tom Zimberoff

ARTREPRENEUR, PHOTOGRAPHER, CLARINETIST, MOTORCYCLIST Connect with me here: https://zimberoff.medium.com/subscribe