November 21, 2012

Local Wild Life

A few dozen flies buzzed around the tent early one afternoon in Kamchatka, Russia.  The potential annoyance of one landing on my face kept me from dozing off.   Reaching for a fleece,  I covered my head and rolled over.  The tide wouldn’t switch for another three hours and I was dead set on following my breakfast coma down the rabbit hole.  Shoving my face into my makeshift pillow, I laid still.

For a few minutes,  my technique kept the flies at bay.   Slowly however,  the constant buzz intensified until it inevitably landed  on my ear.

“Fucking flies.”  I swatted my ear, dislodging the culprit.

Sitting up, I noticed that Cyrus had, much to the chagrin of the flies, synched the hood of his knapsack tight around his face so just his nose and mouth were exposed.  Stifling my curses,  I kicked off my sleeping bag and unzipped the tent.

Crawling out through the opening,  I quickly zipped the screen shut behind me.  Standing up and stretching, I looked around our camp.  A dozen Russian 4×4’s dotted the beach.  The uncommonly warm fall day lured hundreds out from the closest city, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, to enjoy their weekend.

“Jesus Christ.  It’s like Pismo Beach out here,”  I yelled to Chris, a staff Photographer at Surfer from the central coast of California, sitting on the grass watching Keith and Dane play guitar.

“Yeah, but I’ve never seen that at Pismo,”  Keith said motioning over my shoulder.

Everyone fixed their gaze on a family of three standing around an Izuzu SUV some fifty yards away.  The man, presumably the husband, was shirtless and brandishing a handgun.  The woman, wearing a bra and sweat pants, stood a few feet away with a young girl.  Resting the gun on the hood of the SUV,  the man reached through the driver’s window and retrieved a handful of glass bottles.  Chucking the bottles one at a time into the sand he grabbed the handgun from the hood of the car, pulled the slide back and handed it to the daughter.  As if she had done this hundreds of times before,  she eagerly took the pistol from her dad’s hand and pointed it in the direction where he had thrown the bottles. For a few moments she steadied the the pistol with both hands, then a pop, and a glass bottle broke.  A small plume of CO2 floated out of the barrel.

“No fucking way…It’s a pellet gun,” I laughed.

The girl quickly followed up with another shot and continued until she emptied the clip.  Eager to take part in the violence and stimulated by the warm day,  the mother,  without warning, kicked off her flip flops and stripped off her sweat pants.

“A G-Banger!!! Yes.”

“You have got to be fucking kidding me.  Is that  neon?”

“Sure looks like it.”

Two fresh-caught silver salmon by Keith.

Trevor Gordon is putting together a zine on the trip.  I’ll post about it when it’s out.

An active Volcano.

A local salmon poacher enjoying a mid morning swig of vodka and a cigarette.

Dane and Trevor debating whether to head back out.

An empty coastline.

A fisherman lives in this house by himself from April until October each year.

Trevor heading out for a session.

A remote cabin accessible by helicopter in the summer and snowmobile in the winter.  That stream is filled with geothermal hot water.

Ghetto bird.

Chris Burkard and Ben Weiland have an article coming out in the December Issue of Surfer Magazine.

A salmon poacher’s vodka, waders and dog at a river mouth.

Keith in transit on the helicopter.

Hand done camo on a micro 4×4 vehicle.

Local wild life.

By this time,  everyone, including Serge, our Russian guide, had gathered around watching the spectacle unfold.   Taking the gun from the daughter,  the mother marched into position and took aim.  The husband interrupted her with an inaudible sentence and reached back into the driver’s window and grabbed a few more glass bottles.  With the new targets in place,  she opened fire.

Sensing our gaze,  the daughter turned and looked towards seven Americans and a shirtless Russian with Binoculars.  Ducking behind a tent, we laughed like middle-school boys.

Here are some more links,

#Kamshaka (Instagram),

“Do Not Frustrate…” (ART).


  • Calum Creasey
    November 21 , 2012

    You captured it beautifully as always Foster!

  • nadia
    November 21 , 2012

    wow, incredible capture of being at the right place at the right time.

  • November 21 , 2012

    thanks guys it was a pretty classic moment.

  • November 21 , 2012

    Haha, what kind of ritual is this?! I wonder what if they followed it up with some vodka? Great post!

  • November 21 , 2012

    I’d imagine some vodka was involved. must russians we met drank the stuff like water.

  • Will Mayer
    November 21 , 2012

    Amazing as always.

  • November 21 , 2012

    Thanks will,


  • November 21 , 2012

    Great writeup and cool experience!

  • November 21 , 2012

    but how were the waves? they look cold based on the hoods the dudes were wearing.

  • November 21 , 2012

    The waves were fun. Chris got some killer shots that will be in the surfer article. The water was colder than expected and was in the mid 40s.


  • Mark
    November 23 , 2012

    Would love to know more about your story and how you managed to pull off this lifestyle!

  • November 28 , 2012

    Great shots, Foster.

    The old was hit in the leg by a spent AK round in Vietnam. He confirmed what was fairly well known about the Soviet Union and that was they made crappy ammunition because the work force was usually drunk all day. For what it’s worth, the Poles made the best ammunition.

  • November 29 , 2012

    Growing up an avid player of Risk, I remember Kamchatka as that place you can attack Alaska from. Kamchatka was the gateway to the West, the lynchpin of controlling North America. Don’t believe me, just ask Sarah Palin. Now that my interest in global domination has waned, it’s cool to see some great pictures of what the place is really about.

    By the way, does your “Russian guide” in that last photo moonlight on TV as Bill Maher?

  • Samuel
    November 30 , 2012

    Greetings from Maine, love your work Foster. Are you shooting with film or digital these days?

  • patrick
    November 30 , 2012

    man, just stumbled on this site-was raised in HB and my dad had a VW bus that we rolled all over the south west. Should have seen the the silversmiths @ second mesa in New Mexico when we rolled up! Sent your blog to my dad-He has 22 west to east crossings under his belt-his response “I need another bus” looking forward to more. I have a 2005 Sportsmobile 4×4 that I use mainly for skiing and that kind of shit.

  • December 2 , 2012

    im shooting all film,

    Serge is a man of talents, Acting is most likely one of them,

    How do you like your Sportsmobile? i’ve always toyed with the idea of getting one someday,

    The russians i saw sure liked to dink.