By Ashley Ryan
Victoria Beach is always a popular destination, with vibrant sunsets, towering cliffs and a historic pirate tower that looks as if it’s straight out of a storybook. Adding to the fairy tale vibe is the man-made “mermaid pool” that sits along the sand, pulling the tide into a circular stone structure.
Local photographer Chris Wong took this stunning photograph, with deep teal water highlighted by white-capped waves, over the summer. With a DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone hovering about 150 feet over the water, he was able to capture a unique view of a spot that is beloved by residents and tourists alike.
“Like the Statue of Liberty is to New York, Laguna’s pirate tower is iconic,” Wong explains. “I wanted to capture a perspective that not many people have seen before. … It brings me joy every time I look at it.”
Operating a drone can be a challenge, but Wong says that it has presented him with a chance to capture rare scenes like these all over town. “As a drone pilot, you always want to respect nature and the privacy of the people. I never want to give the impression that I’m flying over homes or over people,” he explains. “Being a licensed drone pilot teaches you the rules and regulations and how to be cautious of your environment.”
But, with those considerations in mind, he says the photographs he is able to take from the drone are really special. “It allows people to see amazing things that not all get to enjoy, such as dolphins and whales and a perspective of views that most people never get to see,” he says.
One of Wong’s favorite spots to photograph aside from Victoria Beach is Crescent Bay in north Laguna. “That cove is a perfect little place for families to enjoy the beach, but [also] has one of the best views,” he notes.
Our town, in general, is a playground for photographers, offering scenes that others typically must travel to see. “Laguna is truly a beautiful place—every view, every location is just a picturesque view,” Wong says. “The palm trees and the crystal blue waters—I sometimes forget that Laguna is a travel destination and we sometimes take that for granted.”
But it’s not just the ocean vistas that capture Wong’s heart, as he says it’s the city’s people, the abundant art community and the laid-back lifestyle that truly make Laguna what it is.
The artist’s photographs can be viewed at Laguna Beach Beer Co., where they currently adorn the walls; this photograph in particular has also been added to the brewery’s menus. Wong also turned it into a digital painting, marking his first foray into the world of NFTs (digital assets that are gaining popularity as of late). For more of his photos, visit chriswongphotography.com.