South Beach, Washington

Prologue: Sea and Sky

Eirik Johnson

Public Space

At the jetty’s edge, separated by the long line of the horizon, the Pacific Ocean crashes below and storm clouds fill in from above. I look north to see a commercial fishing boat outrunning incoming weather for Westport harbor. I hear the foghorn buoys in the distance. To the south, a long stretch of shoreline finally disappears in hazy mist and the last few surfers catch a final wave and head back to their vans.

I drive through Westport just as the rain kicks up. A couple kids on BMX bikes ride down the pier for a few casts after school. Older men, maybe off work, maybe outta work, fish off the docks as well. They stand there, statue-like, unfazed by the dark storm approaching. A long stack of crab pots lines the street behind the town’s museum.

I follow the highway south, a scramble of forest and cottages to the west, a maze of cranberry farms and wooded hills to the east. The road opens up and hugs the coastal shore. Then, it curves past the neon sign of the Casino towards the protected port of Tokeland. The wind brings in the briny smell of oyster beds in Willapa Bay.

I look out west one more time, over the Shoalwater Bay coastline.


View part II of this photographic essay.

All photographs and audio by Eirik Johnson. 

Walking Towards the Jetty

Click above to hear the sounds of South Beach, Washington.

Westport Jetty, Westport, WA, September 2020

Grays Harbor Lighthouse, Westport, WA, July 2020

Elk River Estuary, WA, September 2020

Willapa Bay, WA, July 2020

Wetlands near Ocosta, WA, September 2020

Pelagic goose barnacles, North Cove, WA, July 2020

Commercial Fishing Fleet, Westport, WA, September 2020

Search and Rescue Operation, Westhaven State Park, Westport, WA, July 2020

Looking West over the new forest from the Grays Harbor Lighthouse, Westport, WA, July 2020

The Road to Tokeland, WA, September 2020

Westport, WA, September 2020

Cranberry Farm pump house, Grayland, WA, September 2020
Cranberry Farm pump house, Grayland, WA, September 2020

View across Half Moon Bay towards Westport, WA, September 2020

Pelicans above Point Chehalis, Westhaven State Park, WA, September 2020


Eirik Johnson

is a Seattle-based photographer. He has exhibited his work nationally at spaces including the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and the Aperture Foundation in New York. His photographic documentation Sawdust Mountain (Aperture, 2009) addresses the complicated relationship between the Olympic Peninsula region’s landscape, the industries that rely upon natural resources, and the communities they support.

The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.