Before going on our walk on the beach, I remember debating whether I should take my camera. The fundamental reason for this dilemma had to do with my rather strange notion of walking for relaxation and walking to take photographs were two different endeavours that did not mix – they were I felt, mutually exclusive activities. Since we were only going on a walk with the purpose to relax; not specifically setting out to take photographs, I didn’t want to lug a camera bag along.
I can get a little obsessive and pedantic in my approach as I look at a potential scene from a variety of angles, considering all of the possible camera settings, before I take a shot. There is a lot of build-up to taking a photograph. This obviously can have an impact on those around me as I enter my own photographic world. This can take away from the relaxation that a walk on a beach can offer.
I verbalized my ‘internal debate’ to my wife as we were ready to leave for our walk. ‘Take the camera’ was her spontaneous reply. I had just completed a photographic course and she was aware that I was keen to improve my photographic skills, given any opportunity.
On an isolated part of the beach, we came across six young guys having fun. There was a jovial atmosphere as each waited for the ‘right’ moment to throw his board into the incoming waves and to launch himself into whatever maneuver he was trying to execute once he was balanced on the board. There was no crowd to cheer them on. They were not doing what they were doing for financial reward – since skimboarding is not a professional sport in South Africa.
I silently thanked my wife as I removed my camera from the bag to set myself up to capture this special moment. As I watched their remarkable skills through the lens, I couldn’t stop thinking how their enthusiasm and joy for their sport was in such contrast to some of the arrogance and sense of entitlement that some professional athletes convey in the sports that have extensive media coverage and excessive financial backing.
The sole aim was to crack the ultimate ride, to pull off the most amazing maneuver. It was so refreshing to witness how the joy of the challenge to perfect a skill can be totally wrapped up in a process of love and freedom. This was something that our national team sports could take on board since an energy field of staleness and lack of creativity tends to prevail when they are performing.
There was no financial gain to be had for the six skimboarders; no ‘hero worship’ status that an audience or public was affording them; no media clicking away to sell television rights for millions of dollars.
As they wrapped up, I felt a little sad. I didn’t want the excitement and joy to end. As I walked away, I looked out to sea and saw two whales doing their own dance.