The Joy of Single and Unattached- A Surf Photographer’s Perspective


I have traveled in many places around the world, mostly in conjunction with surf contests and ministry but the Phillippines was a new destination for me. Michael from and Buji from Vessel had invited me along to the ‘Single and Unattached’ logging contest in La Union. This unique longboard contest supported by Vans Philippines has been growing in reputation and gaining momentum in the world surfing stage particularly the very niche culture of logging, so I was keen to check it out.

Like all good travelers I stalked the event and location online, to at least give me some sort of setting and sense of context when I finally arrived. However, the online presence was a spin almost monotone replica of the vibrant town and logging scene I found in La Union.
After negotiating the seething mass of traffic and humanity that is Manilla we were on our way arriving in the very early hours of the morning. Vessel hostel sits proudly integrated into the village beautifully designed hostel-style accommodation with proximity to everything the town has to offer. 

My first real introduction to the surf was with the arrival of a smaller swell in the afternoon. Watching the sun sink slowly through the veil of tropical heat haze is a truly magical experience; couple that with excellent surfing and you’ve got a delight for this photographer’s eyes.

Indeed the world is slowly and steadily being introduced to La Union via the single and unattached contest.  On the flip side, the local surfers are competing against international competitors which raises their level also. The international surfers I spoke to had nothing but positive vibes and praise for both the contest and the town. This is always helped along by the presence of good waves which there were at this event. Photographically the morning light here is superb and effective for many photographic options from low light slow shutter to crisp action shots.

There was a definite rhythm and ritual to my stay in La Union. Up at dawn to check the waves from the roof deck at Vessel. Dependant upon conditions it was a quick or slow breakfast then into the water to shoot photos. Lunch at the point or one of the local restaurants. rest in the heat of the day then photos and beers on the point filled with conversation and runtimes in the evening. This relaxed friendly vibe extended into the water and it was a remark I heard over and over from visiting competitors. 

Like any contest or travel experience long after the fun and freshness of the initial list have already faded. The people that revisit your mind and lodge in your heart will draw you back again and again. I have made it a point that as I travel, I will try to capture simple portraits of some of these precious people.

Save the dates: February 1-9, 2020! #SingleAndUnattached2020

I will definitely be back…


-Andy C.