• Julian Wilson

High Enough To See The Sea
An Unbreakable Bond to the Sea
and The Dynamics of Identity and Expression
Cover Photo. High Enough To See The Sea


My soul is full of longing
for the secret of the sea,
and the heart of the great ocean
sends a thrilling pulse through me.

― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

High Enough To See The Sea has become a go-to Tumblr blog for surfing photography over the past year. Who is it run by? As an anonymous user once asked: “You’re a guy, right?

Her response:

High Enough To See The Sea documents a lifestyle and culture with an unbreakable bond to the sea; a relationship which at its core is also about the dynamics of identity and expression. Luke Davis, a surfer from San Clemente, CA, incarnates the fluidity of identity, like the ocean itself, with his constant handle changes on social media and sporting different hair colors: blue, pink, gray, blue. Someone once asked High Enough To See The Sea if Luke Davis is a good surfer. She answers that aside from being an excellent free surfer, “his bold self-expression is fucking fantastic.” Luke Davis is all about constantly reinventing himself and she adds: “I love that and identify with it. I think the human journey should be about growth.” And like the water in the sea, the human journey is also about movement, constant shifting ideas and perceptions to reach new shores, states of being.

High Enough To See The Sea not only posts the work of other photographers that resonate with her, but her own photography as well. We had the chance to find out where her handle comes from and some of her favorite surf photographers.

VAFFANCULO MAG (VM): So who/what got you into surfing?

High Enough To See The Sea (HETSTS): I was born on the ocean and have felt at home on or in the sea for as long as I can remember.

VM: Why “High Enough To See The Sea” as your Tumblr handle?

HETSTS: "High Enough To See The Sea" came from a poem on a Christmas card Julian Wilson's mom sent out years ago. The whole sentence was, "Grow deep, and high enough to see the sea."  I don't know why, but it stuck with me. I don't know who wrote the poem. It could have been his mother, herself...

VM: Why the preference for a portrait (vertical) images?

HETSTS: The reason I post mostly vertical images is because they look better on Tumblr. I usually crop my photos down to vertical so that they display more effectively on the dashboard. I actually prefer horizontal images.

VM: What elements make a surf photo stunning or unforgettable?

HETSTS: It's all in personal preference, but I like to feel something. When you're looking at a still image, you're staring at a split second in time. All you're seeing is a tiny splice of that wave―that experience―and if a photographer is able to freeze that day, to capture its essence in one frame, he or she has done his job. Specific elements that “make” a photograph for me could be anything from bright colors to moody fog to lens flare to a surfer's expression.

VM: Lastly, has a particular surf photographer influenced your work?

HETSTS: I don't think I can narrow down my photographic inspiration to just a surf photographer in specific. I am inspired by so much of what I see, including other artists' photography, paintings, music, and nature in general.  I'm just as inspired by Bukowski as I am by photography, but some of my favorite surf photographers include Brian Bielmann, Zak Noyle, DJ Struntz and Tim McKenna.

Check out a few of her awesome shots, including some featuring Julian Wilson and John John Florence, below.

Click here for fullscreen slideshow.