I love being made to wait. Sounds crazy but there's something special about being forced to slow down and be present in the moment. These days, we’re not used to viewing waiting in a positive light. In a culture that’s built around immediacy, it’s all too easy to perceive a reduction in speed as a delay. Anyone who has spent much time in the Mentawai Islands would know that sometimes you don’t really have much of a choice - time has a way of being elastic and easily stretched and you're constantly waiting for ferries, boats, swell, tides and winds. If you can master the anticipation and lock into natures rhythm though, you're rewarded with a sense of peace that's increasingly hard to find.
As a photographer making a living out of documenting surf culture, it can be easy to get impatient as you wait for swells to march your way so you can get busy with work. When they do, you find yourself rattling off hundreds, if not thousands, of images in a session and invariably wishing it was just that little bit bigger or more perfect in an endeavour to keep up with the surf-saturated social media.
In an attempt to slow down and reconnect to a better personal rhythm and find the right pace, I recently added and old 1976 film camera to my kit. All manual everything and a limited supply of film forced me to be patient - to wait for the right moment, to make sure all my settings were just how I wanted them and then to be able to throw it back in a bag and wait for a few months for the opportunity to get it developed. Expired film, heat damage, and missed focuses; they all make for happy accidents and now I relish the anticipation of waiting to see the results.
Here's a small collection of film images I want to share from my last three-month trip to the Islands. Images that I feel embody 'island time' and taught me to not only be patient but to really enjoy the process. So take a moment, slow it down, manually adjust your focus and take a little trip through island life with me.
Above image by Marc Llewellyn @emvielle.