Want to fill your feed with original imagery? Point your lens to the Coastside.

(All photos by Charles Russo)

Room with a view: Looking north to Devil’s Slide through the windows of the Point Montara Hostel.

Don’t get suckered by the gourds.

Seriously. There is so, SO much more.

Farmer John (far left) and crew stock up on the gourds during pumpkin season in Half Moon Bay.

Sure, every autumn Half Moon Bay takes on the role of quaint seasonal destination with pumpkin patches & hay mazes, not to mention a world-famous pumpkin weigh-off (where the winner these days typically clocks in at over 2000 pounds).

It’s an emu!

Yes, it is all very charming, and the pumpkin pancakes at the big culminating fall festival are indeed well worth the trip. But take the orange-tinged blinders off, ’cause photographically speaking, the Coastside is a visual bonanza well beyond its pigeonholed pumpkin-spiced identity.

If you’re interested in photography beyond selfies and food porn, the seaside run south from Devil’s Slide to Davenport is where it’s at in the Bay Area.

Think about it, you have miles of largely undeveloped coastline hemmed in by redwood forests in the hills, as well as all sorts of expansive open space preserves. There is Fitzgerald Marine Reserve & the Mavericks big wave break to the north as well as Año Nuevo & Waddell Beach wind surfing to the south. Factor in pelicans, herons, bobcats, mountain lions, wild turkeys, elephant seals, harbor seals, anemones and much more. The natural beauty is world class and just a half tank of gas away.

On top of that, the region’s blue-collar industries of agriculture and fishing are inherently photo worthy (particularly compared to the scooter-driven programming world that so much of the Bay has succumbed to). It’s real deal, hands-dirty, salt-of-the-earth work, and it’s uniquely photogenic. (And if you don’t believe it, head to Pillar Point Harbor during the next crab harvest.)

So lay off the millionth picture of the Golden Gate Bridge (and the many many other shot-to-death Instagram subjects), pack your camera and take the drive. You still have a few good months before the fog takes over.

Clockwise from top: Traveling along the cliffs by horse at sunset above Poplar Beach; autumn atmosphere along San Gregorio Beach; Romeo Pier (now gone) at Pillar Point Harbor; the scenic bluffs above Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.
Coastside wildlife: (clockwise from top) frog; heron; deer; pelican.
Local faces: (clockwise from top) Lea Markegard takes a moment to relax with one of her dairy cows, Rosey, at her family’s ranch, just south of Tunitas Creek; Jim Holsman stands by his Model 3 Hi-Wheeler, a horseless carriage designed by his great-uncle and originally sold in 1904; Joell Dunlap, executive director of the Square Peg Foundation, nuzzles with Bluma, a 3-year-old former racehorse and one of many put to good use at the Coastside stables; a local fishmonger at Princeton Fish Market shows off the latest catch.
Clockwise from top: Early morning mist on Surfer’s Beach in El Granada; surfers head to the water after the opening ceremony for the seasonal window on the Mavericks big wave surf competition; surfer’s head towards Mavericks along Pillar Point Harbor; Ken “Skindog” Collins competing at the Mavericks Invitational surf competition in 2013.
Clockwise from top: Esiqui Garcia methodically picks his way through rows of artichokes during harvest work on Giusti Farms; a farm worker picks strawberries in Pescadero; a foreman tests the brussels sprout harvest in San Gregorio; Ron Duarte shows off the berries in his garden behind his family’s restaurant in Pescadero.
Clockwise from top: A lone fisherman near Miramar Beach; Pillar Point commercial fisherman Barry Day; recreational fishermen congregate along the outer jetty at Pillar Point Harbor; Pillar Point fisherman Bill Webb aboard his boat The Cricket.
The Pigeon Point Lighthouse in Pescadero.

From 2011 to 2014, Charles Russo was the staff photographer for the Half Moon Bay Review, the Coastside’s 121 year-old newspaper. Many of these images original appeared in the Review during that time period.

Subscribe to the Six Fifty Newsletter

Don’t miss another week of local stories, photo spreads and event listings featuring the best of life on the Peninsula. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to know what’s happening now in the 6–5–0. Sign up here.

More photography content and articles from The Six Fifty:

Charles Russo

Award-winning writer and photographer with extensive experience across mediums, including videography, investigative reporting, editing, advanced research, and a wide range of photography.

Author of Striking Distance: Bruce Lee and the Dawn of Martial Arts in America; represented by Levine Greenberg Rostan Agency.

Freelance clients include Google, VICE and Stanford University.

You May Also Like

Congresswoman Barbara Lee holds her fist up at a solidarity George Floyd protest event in Oakland.

International film festival brings documentaries back to Peninsula theaters

Five steps of flavor: Eats Meets West Bowls creates customizable fast-casual feasts in Belmont

What’s abuzz in Atherton: The coolest high school club is…beekeeping?

How a local writer joined extreme kayaker Scott Lindgren for the Netflix doc “The River Runner”