With her mobile phone, Theresa enjoys capturing reflective moments on Southern California beaches and sharing them on her Instagram account (@bluemoodz). She works as a marketing professional for a high-tech company, managing data-driven marketing campaigns for her clients. She often takes the longer route to work along Pacific Coast Highway to be inspired by the ocean, to savor its salty breeze and occasional morning fog, or hopefully, catch a dramatic sunset on the way back. As a California native, there is nothing Theresa loves more than to be outdoors with nature. On weekends, Theresa loves to spend her time chasing light along the coast, focusing in particular on surfers and their unique relationship with the water – whether contemplating a wave or as a silhouette during golden hour. Theresa is writing on behalf of the Lonely Whale Foundation, a non-profit organization co-founded by actor and entrepreneur Adrian Grenier, dedicated to bringing people closer to the world’s oceans. You can join @LonelyWhale and #MakeASplash for the ocean this summer.
How do you care for the ocean?
Caring for the ocean as well as the natural environment is something I take seriously. It may seem unimportant until you consider the collective effects of hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. One candy wrapper or plastic straw strewn on the beach may have little significance, but thousands of these little items floating on the ocean’s surface is damaging and will degrade the ocean experience for all. Taking care of our ‘blue planet’ is everyone’s responsibility. There are many opportunities to participate in local beach clean-ups or helping with ocean conservation efforts, such as the International Coastal Cleanup Day. In Southern California, we have two beach cleanup days that will take place on July 17th in Newport Beach (Pier) and on Sept. 17th in Laguna Beach (Main Beach). By doing my small part, I am helping to keep the ocean healthy and safe for the community, wildlife, and the livelihoods that depend on it.
How do you connect to the ocean?
On weekends, I love to spend as much time by the water’s edge. Visiting Newport Beach especially at sunrise and reveling in the first moments of the day is the best remedy for body and soul. I love to immerse myself and become a part of the environment. Through my photography, I want people to have a visual sensory of the moment I have captured….the light dancing on the shore, the ebb and flow of waves leaving interesting patterns on the sand, an otherworldly experience with brooding cumulonimbus clouds capping golden hour with an incredible light show. Mother Nature plays a big role in how I connect to the ocean. Perhaps because the ocean has a way of slowing us down for reflection, and finding clarity for the present. These are times I feel closest to the ocean.
Who has inspired your love of the ocean?
To me, the ocean is like a long-time friend that I’ve known all my life. Every time I drive down the coast my heart races, for the reunion is so sweet. I look forward to that feeling of contentment and total freedom after a long week. From Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach, where most of my photographs are taken, I can see the beautiful white waves and seagulls beckoning in the distance. I just can’t wait to step foot on sand to begin my adventure, chasing light and connecting with other local photographers.
As to who has inspired my love for the ocean? It is the surfers who have inspired my passion because they convey so well the peacefulness that is the ocean. I’ve spent many hours watching surfers as they stride by with their surf boards. Their emotional connection and affinity to the ocean is quite transparent.
I’ve asked surfers what they enjoy most about the sport and one shared, “Surfing and the ocean is religion. There isn’t a better feeling then when you go under the first wave and feel immediately refreshed.” Another surfer who I spoke with, claiming himself as 70 years young, said “It’s tough out there in the water, but there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. This is where I feel most myself – to be here with the ocean.”
How can you influence others to have a love of the ocean and #MakeASplash?
One way to influence others to have a love of the ocean is by letting them observe it up close and personal. With my family, we like to visit one of my favorite coastal spots, the tide pools of Little Corona Del Mar Beach. Here they can appreciate marine life inches away and explore the tide pools and sea caves where sea anemones, hermit crabs, small fish, sea slugs, and starfish roam free. Tide pools are like outdoor aquariums where people can observe, learn and enjoy the sea creatures and plant life, but this time in their true, natural habitat.
What are some ways for people who don’t live near the ocean to connect with it?
People who don’t live near the ocean can develop a connection with it by supporting groups that promote ocean conservation such as the Lonely Whale Foundation, which is dedicated to bringing people closer to the world’s oceans through education and awareness, inspiring empathy and action for ocean health and the wellbeing of marine wildlife.
To help people better understand the world’s oceans through education and awareness, a new 4D virtual reality underwater experience created by Dell and Adrian Grenier, called “Cry Out: The Lonely Whale Experience,” seeks to transport viewers into the depths of the sea to witness underwater life and how pollution has disrupted it.
How have surfing and/or photography impacted your love of the ocean?
Photography has greatly impacted my love of the ocean because I have become more empathetic and observant. In the “ocean’s garden,” my discoveries can include seaweed of all shapes and sizes, glistening sea foam, skimming seabirds, and seashells, just to name a few. I would have never noticed a couple of years ago! On my Instagram account (@bluemoodz) I love to convey the quiet beauty and soulfulness that can only be found by standing alone at the edge of the ocean. The style I love most is taking photographs of beach goers and surfers, whether on the wave, as a stride-by carrying their surfboard, or as silhouettes during golden hour. I was compelled to shoot this image one foggy morning in Newport Beach, Calif., as I stood immersed in the sunrise. A surfer appeared out of the mist and stood looking at the ocean for the longest time. I knew that he was entering his “zen zone.”
How has the ocean inspired you / made you empathetic?
Huntington Beach is my place of inspiration and reflection, and I refer to it as “life’s reset button.” The sea can bring me back to a state of balance where I feel awed by the beauty of life and grateful to be a part of it. The way fading light dances across the glassy and reflective shore. The rippling effect caused by the ebb and flow of the waves bring out interesting textural elements in the sand. There’s no place I’d rather be than by the water’s edge at low tide during golden hour.
In this photo, on one particular evening, the entire shore lit up like a sheet of reflective glass, mirroring the vibrant skies above. I noticed a silhouette standing by the shore enjoying the peaceful calm, and the scene reminded me of these words by John Updike: “What art offers is space – a certain breathing room for the spirit.” That’s how I feel about the ocean. The lone silhouette appearing at the right time and place brings out the sense of scale and quietude I am always looking to convey in my photographs.