weather report : showers to flowers

it’s (one day away from) april and we’re finally struttin’ into spring. this month, we chatted with three photographers who shared their vibey nyc street-to-beach snaps, and later we screened saturday night fever (‘cuz we also ♡ white polyester). what else? some rockaway radio followed by healthy hydration from our skip-the-soda-for-our-better-for-art-thou cans (drink well, drink often).

ny-based storyteller and photographer riley spends her time shooting outdoors with a focus on surf, landscape, coastal lifestyle, travel, and water people. 

ROCKAWAY: Where are you from?

Riley : I’ve been in New York City more than a decade, but I grew up in the South. We lived on a dirt road with no name in this undeveloped lake community, just feet away from the water. My little brother & I swam every single day. The water fed my soul right from the beginning. 

ROCKAWAY: When did you start taking photographs and what caught your eye from an early age?

Riley: It’s funny to see all the vintage cameras making a comeback. We used to have this Polaroid One Step — it offered instant gratification, no waiting weeks to get film back. And at the time,  it seemed magical watching the image you had in your mind gradually materialize. I started getting serious about photography when I moved to NY and then took that to a whole other level after moving to Rockaway. I’ve always thrived on shooting outdoors. Street photography was my first passion and then I focused on ocean, surf, and landscape photography.

ROCKAWAY: Where are your favorite places to point a camera in NY?

Riley Harper: Obviously, Rockaway is number one. I seem to always be able to uncover something new. I also love exploring Montauk and Long Island.

ROCKAWAY: What do you love about photography -- and how do you get into the flow?

Riley Harper: I love the creative possibilities with photography. Experimenting with subjects, lighting, location, and equipment excites me, pushes me to move outside of comfort zones often.That’s where the magic happens. That’s where I feel most alive when shooting. There’s something so freeing in the process.

ROCKAWAY: What's your advice to someone who wants to learn how to take a picture?

Riley Harper: Start shooting. And photograph everything that excites you or peaks your interest. It’s the best way to discover what speaks to you in front of the camera. Think of it as an exploration of photography and of self.

ROCKAWAY: What do you love about shooting water and surfers ? 

Riley Harper: here’s this calm spiritually that comes with surfing and surf photography. I feel it as soon as I get on the boardwalk. I take a moment, look out at waves and then shoot up/down the beach, paying close attention to the landscape. I walk out into the sand, and I’m immersed in the scene. It feels like I’m out there surfing with them. I’m a part of all that I’m shooting. That doesn’t always happen in photography, but it does for me every time I’m out with the surfers. 

ROCKAWAY: What's your motto for spring 2022?

Riley Harper: I’ve actually been thinking about that a lot. There’s definitely a universal shift with people coming out from the shadows of the pandemic, getting together, traveling…I’ve learned so much in the past two years, shedding parts of myself. I know so many people who’ve done that. My emerging motto is strive to feel Free, and Light, and to dance with fear whenever I can.

fine art photographer, curator, architect, and art collector ruben natal-san miguel was born in puerto rico but has been reppin the concrete jungle since. ruben’s book called harlem, showcases his beloved uptown neighborhood. 


ROCKAWAY: Where are you from?

RNSM: I am from Manhattan, NYC, Harlem to be more specific. Was born in Puerto Rico and educated in Boston, Massachusetts. 

ROCKAWAY:  When did you start taking photographs and what caught your eye from an early age?

RSNM: I had been a photography collector for 35 years . After surviving 9-11 (I was inside the North Tower), I decided to relocate from The Upper West Side to Harlem, where I started to notice how the street culture started to face due to gentrification. I picked up a camera and started documenting everything around me in Harlem and later on expanded the documentation the the other 4 boroughs of NYC and the other parts of the US. I’m completely self-taught!

ROCKAWAY: Where are your favorite places to point a camera in NY?

RSNM: Anywhere where there is something different and people who are more interesting to highlight to provide inclusiveness, otherness and diversity.  I like to find people in their own environment to create environmental portraits.

ROCKAWAY: What do you love about photography -- how do you get into the flow?

RSNM: Other than video, I love that photography is the most real way for art representation. A lot of painting, sculpture and mixed media art is mostly based and deviated from  photography . 

ROCKAWAY: What do you love about color in your photos?

RSNM: I like to display and portray life as I find it with its real color and environment. Black & White photography is great but I like portrait life, people and places with the most reality : In Color! 

ROCKAWAY: What's your motto for 2022?

RSNM: Keep being resilient and able to get more images of people of color , LBGTQ and non binary and communities in more institutions, museums, galleries and the art market.

jena cumbo is a ny based photographer who lives in rockaway beach and works in a studio in the heart of williamsburg, brooklyn. she holds a bfa in painting and photography from hartford art school and an mfa in photography from suny buffalo. follow along here.

ROCKAWAY: Where are you from?

JC: I'm from Rochester, NY

ROCKAWAY: When did you start taking photographs and what caught your eye from an early age?

JC:  Growing up in Rochester in the 80s and 90s with Kodak in my backyard - everyone had a camera. I first took pictures with my mom's 'disc film camera' when I was pretty young. I was into taking pictures of trees and pictures of my friends. We even had a black and white photography class and darkroom in my public high school and I loved it but it never occurred to me that I could make a career out of it until I was in college.

ROCKAWAY: Where are your favorite places to point a camera in NY?

JC: I love working in the studio with my lights but also love shooting outside. Coney island is great and Rockaway for sure - I love finding the light outside and seeing what we can do with it to create. I often feed off the energy of who I'm shooting and working with. 

ROCKAWAY: What do you love about photography ?

JC: Learn how to use a 35mm film camera, if you don't have access to one, shoot with whatever you do have a lot, and then shoot some more!I

ROCKAWAY: How do you get into the flow? 

JC: I love capturing a moment even when the moments are sort of controlled. I try to do 'posed candids' in my session photography, in that if I see them do something I think looks interesting I'll try to capture that without it looking too forced. I go back and forth with giving people direction and reacting to what they are doing.

ROCKAWAY: What do you love about shooting water, surfers and skaters? 

JC: I moved to the water 5 years ago and got obsessed with beach life. I started surfing myself and some of the first people I met out here were the local skateboarders. I’ve always hung out with the 'skate kids' growing up but when I was a teenager the girls didn't really skate (idk why b/c we did snowboard). I'm really glad the younger gens question EVERYTHING. It's cool to see all genders and young kids skating now— the first skate event I shot in the Rock was a 'battle at the beach’ contest. They do so much for the community with lessons and events. Girls Swirl NY also has a big hand in making space for female identifying and new skaters. I could watch them defy gravity for hours so shooting them in action is second nature to me. 

ROCKAWAY: What is your motto for 2022?,

JC:  I'm not much of a motto person, but after 2 years of Covid and getting back into the swing of things with cautious optimism I'd have to say 'Let's Go’… and I’m really looking forward to warmer weather and summer.

#lovethybodega :



City Acres Market

Equal parts grocery, deli and caterer, this is our go-to stop before we jump on the ferry from Pier 11 to Rockaway Beach. With three NY locations and plenty of grab-and-go, ready-to-eat snacks and sandwiches, our backpacks are always stuffed, ditto our coolers full of Rockaway cans.

Addy: 70 Pine Street, New York, NY 10270





“You know how many times someone told me I was good in my life? Two! Twice! Two f*#%&!' times! This raise today and dancing at the disco!” -  Tony Manero.

The year is 1977. The movie is Saturday Night Fever, the story of Italian-American-slash- Brooklynite Tony Manero, hardware store employee by day and Manhattan disco dancer by night. White polyester-suit-clad John Travolta leads the cast in this epic flick where music and dance moves sizzle. The soundtrack? It’s dominated by the Bee Gees Staying Alive, How Deep is Your Love and Night Fever.

our mission : rockaway x surfrider

did you know every can of rockaway helps save the planet? yup! we proudly donate 1% of our sales to the not-for-profit surfrider foundation, founded in 1984, and dedicated to helping clean beaches, saving majestic water creatures and combating plastic pollution.

founder freestyle flow :

thrilled smarch is over. that’s all i really got this month.

the hustle continues.

rock on. x b

where the streets meet the beach. @drinkrockaway