Jim Banks (left) Photographing at Oceano Dunes. Photo courtesy of David Ulrich.
OCEANO REVISITED is an exploration of, and homage to, a location with a storied photographic past. Visited repeatedly by Edward and Brett Weston, the dunes became iconic subject matter for them both. Ansel Adams, Willard Van Dyke, and many other photographers have followed in their footsteps. I continue to photograph this Central California landscape despite (and as a result of) the rich history of work already produced. Believing that there are still individual and authentic ways of interpreting these dunes, I strive to create new photographs here.
In the early 20th century, there were grand (and failed) plans to develop Oceano. The area was later inhabited by a loosely formed group of artists, mystics, and misfits seeking solitude and spiritual enlightenment and claiming the dunes as their home. Once the proposed site of a nuclear power plant (a project turned back largely due to opposition led by Ansel Adams and the Sierra Club), the dunes have persevered. Although now surrounded by suburbia and occupied in part by a busy off-road vehicle recreation area, portions of the dunes survive relatively unscathed.
I choose to photograph the natural beauty of these protected dunes, purposely excluding the accoutrements of civilization and focusing on the simplicity of sand and shadow, shape and texture. I believe that photographs that explore and celebrate the natural landscapes that still remain are worth making.