Chach Files: Issue 1

Santa Cruz, California

Surfer Darshan Gooch catches a ride while sunlight just barely peaks over the lip of his wave

Welcome to Santa Cruz Vibes Magazine’s inaugural issue! I’m Ryan ‘Chachi’ Craig, your photo editor and the contributor for our travel series, “The Chachfiles,” featured in every SC Vibes edition. With 15 years specializing in surfing photography, I became a staff photographer at Surfer magazine. This role allowed me to photograph renowned surfers and explore diverse cultures, landscapes, people, and food. It’s been an incredible journey capturing unique travel moments.

In future issues, I’ll showcase my favorite road memories, but let’s begin this issue by focusing on Santa Cruz. Its diversity, from Big Sur to San Francisco, has fueled my passion for photography when I was just getting interested in the craft. I’m still in love with our coastline’s beauty and grateful to call Santa Cruz home. Join us in celebrating Santa Cruz’s wonders in the pages of Santa Cruz Vibes Magazine. Enjoy the ride!

Elevated view of a surfboard shaping room in a foggy forest landscape captured by Ryan "Chachi" Craig

Morning fog takes on a different look when you’re staying in a four-story house surrounded by trees in the heart of Montara. While working on a project in 2018, I had the opportunity to stay with a few friends in a forest home and document four surfers who were also talented surfboard shapers. With a garage turned into a makeshift shaping room, we enjoyed a week of surfing, storytelling and shaping. This image was taken just after sunrise with a couple surfboard ‘blanks’ in the queue for an afternoon of shaping.

Colorful sunset photo of Its Beach in Santa Cruz, CA captured by Ryan "Chachi" Craig

I grew up as an avid bodyboarding enthusiast and Its Beach was the epicenter of my life as a teenager. I have countless memories of watching the sunset from the water there and later on in life, photographing many gorgeous skies along that stretch of sand. This sunset in particular might be one of the more beautiful I have witnessed. After an afternoon of rain the skies parted at sunset as the sky began to glow. It’s not often that you see rain squalls illuminated in orange and red hues as is the case on the left side of this image. This night will be forever ingrained in my mind. (Its Beach is a south-facing beach below the bluff on the west side of Point Santa Cruz.)

A surfer rides a wave from the nose of his surfboard with the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf and Beach Boardwalk in the background with a rainbow shining through some dark clouds above captured by Ryan "Chachi" Craig

How sweet it is when everything comes together for a photograph! It’s not often that you see a rainbow over the Boardwalk with crisp winter light and a talented surfer perched on the nose of their board. This image just happened to come together while taking a leisurely stroll on Westcliff Drive with my camera in hand.

Surfer Noah Wegrich catches air of the lip of a wave with a rock formation in the background captured by Ryan "Chachi" Craig

Backdrops like this rock formation north of Santa Cruz are one of great things about being a surf photographer here. Having Noah Wegrich as your subject, well, that might be even better!