Photographer Erik Melvin’s candid, carefree beach photography captures surfing and skateboarding communities in Los Angeles
As an outsider who grew up in Ohio and lived in New York City before moving to the West Coast five years ago, Los Angeles-based photographer Erik Melvin captures the city from an idealised standpoint, reconnecting with what he imagined LA to be like when he was growing up. “One of my favourite subjects is carefree youth, which is what I always thought California was all about,” he says. “I love capturing new things, and surfers and skaters in particular were very new to me when I moved to LA.”
Melvin’s images are bathed in a golden, honeyed light, taken either early in the morning or just before sunset, imbuing a nostalgic atmosphere to the beachside scenes. “I love photographing people, first and foremost. I have a theatre background and love fashion, so the idea of ‘characters’ and talking to new people brings me joy,” he says. “I always seek to capture something real, a proper candid moment, with magic light, quirky symmetry, and a dash of timelessness. If it’s more about the place, I generally try to go unnoticed and keep moving. As soon as someone notices me framing up a shot, I move on.”
Outside of his candid beach photography, Melvin is also an in-demand fashion and portrait photographer, and has worked with Diana Ross, Dolly Parton, Rita Ora, Michelle Obama and the NYC Ballet, to name a few. “Whatever the work, I hope people feel a sense of escapism, joy, a fresh vantage point, wonder, and a bit of sexiness in my photos,” he says.