Nathan French shoots ‘minis’ up and down the California coast
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 30 April, 2016 - The curse of being a surfer is that we are always distracted by anything resembling a surf-able wave: Teahupo’o in a tortilla chip, lines stacked to the horizon on a rumpled bed, and especially lake and puddle ripples that wrap around miniature points and bays.
It’s sad because we miss out on so much other amazing stuff in life that has the audacity to not resemble a surf-able wave: Baseball, kittens and fine leather goods and artfully arranged flowers are not that important to us.
But what if we embraced this surfer’s curse and actually sought out these miniature distractions. If we turned our collective, obsessive gaze toward the tiny perfection out there, even creating waves on our own accord during mini-wave flat spells? Righteous! Yes, let’s celebrate our obsessiveness. Well, we found someone who does this. And he does so without shame.
Photographer Nathan French has amassed an extensive knowledge-base of a couple dozen ‘mini’ secret spots while filling a pocket full of SD cards with their translucent, mesmerizing images. Let’s explore.
Do you ever wish you were tiny so you could surf them?
Of course! I’m always joking about wishing somebody would invent a shrink ray so I can score uncrowded mini point breaks.
Why shoot tiny waves, what is the attraction?
It is something fun to do when the surf isn’t good, although I have chased minis when the surf is good as well. It is kind of an obsession of mine. I love the challenge and the fantastic details that appear when it all comes together.
Where do you find most of the tiny waves - lakes, bays, puddles?
I’ve shot minis in San Francisco, Orange County, and San Diego. I am always looking for new mini spots. I have found good minis in bays, harbors, river mouths, lakes, and when the weather is really crappy, sometimes I even make them in my kitchen.
Is there something particularly difficult about shooting tiny waves?
Minis are super fickle. Sometimes they are so clear and glassy that you can’t even focus on them. Even more so than with regular waves, every millimeter of tide change and every knot of wind drastically effects how the mini will break.
Is there a tiny version of Jeffreys Bay out there we should know about?
I have found one particular firing mini righthand point in San Diego that provides good mind surfing sessions when the conditions are just right. Shooting minis is like meditation for me so I like to do it solo, which is why I keep my mouth shut on most of the specifics.