clam beach.













clam basket

clam booty

clam beach

We spent the first night in California camped out at Clam Beach, just outside of McKinleyville. Our little Kelty was dwarfed by all of the huge RVs and big-as-a-house tents and canopies. But, it was perfect for us. We arrived in the night, so I had no idea where we were until I peaked my head out the next morning.

The early morning fog was heavy and figures were moving slowly along the beach, multiplied twice by their reflections in the wet sand. Clammers, digging for clams . We fell quietly in line behind and began to watch them work. Each had different tools and tactics, but each had bags and baskets of clams resting against their hips. They walk with their faces watching the sand, until suddenly a man in knee high rubber boots begins running and stamping, his knees almost hitting his chest. He stops, and cranes his neck up and down the strip of sand looking for air bubbles. When a tiny volcano appears in the wet sand, he takes his shovel and begins digging and digging until he can plunge his arm in the hole, up to his shoulder. The clam surfaces in his rough hand and is dropped into a bag, clicking against the others.

It was amazing to watch them, and Sam and I began to make friends. A father and son team took the time to dump out their clams on the sand. The father had about 15 clams, the fleshy parts reaching out into the open air. The son held his bag upside down, and a single clam tumbled on to the sand as he grinned up at us. An older couple stopped for a quick picture, the woman sitting in her hip posing with her tools of the trade. And the father and his two young daughters, looking damp and windblown. It seemed like the girls spent most of the morning perched on the handle of their small shovels wedged into the sand, but their father reassured me that they are quick and bring in a good handful themselves.

Clam Beach was a perfect introduction to Humboldt County. The people seemed humble and hard-working. They were so willing to stop and say hello, show us their bounty, or let Sam snap a picture. Sam took this series of portraits. He has always loved portraits of tradespeople, like Irving Penn's Small Trades.

We look forward to posting more pictures from our trip, so stay tuned!


  1. Since when do you have a blog? I've heard clam digging is hard! Hope you guys are doing great!

  2. Wow, Sam, those portraits are awesome. I wish I was a cool clammer so you could take my picture. Sounds like you had a lot of fun on your trip!

  3. wonderful portraits and descriptions

  4. I love this. Great pics and great feeling. Makes me want to go out and do a short doc about them.

  5. aaah! i just love the one of the two girls and their dad. so so so much.

  6. i just really was hoping to see sam in some of those pants.