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Trinity Ellis’ Puerto Rico
Nikki OquendoPhotography Trinity Ellis

Trip to Puerto Rico with these dreamy portraits

London-based photographer Trinity Ellis catches the raw beauty of Puerto Rico’s archipelago in a compilation of holiday shots

Tucked away on the golden coast of the Porta del Sol, Rincon – ‘the town of beautiful sunsets’, lies outside the island’s main tourist pocket.  It is the surfing capital of Puerto Rico; it is a place where the sun shines stronger, the waves crash harder and time runs slower. 

It is perhaps for this reason that London-based photographer Trinity Ellis chose it as the scene of his latest collection of holiday snaps, “it’s just super relaxed and chilled out,” he says when asked. “I’ve been to other Caribbean islands and it’s definitely got a different vibe. It’s more... America.”

Colonised by Christopher Columbus in the late 1800s, Rincon’s atmosphere is mixing pot of South American and Western cultures, “it’s quite strange because of the whole colonial vibe,” he says, “the history there is quite deep but no one really talks about it”.  Out of this curious mix has risen a small following of Americans from the Deep South, “there are a lot of old Americans who just live there. Say the type of Americans you see in like the Deep South – hillbilly vibes – yeah, it’s quite strange.”

Fortunately, this does not deter from Rincon’s undeniable sense of chill; the town, with its sandy coasts and infamous waves, is run by one mantra, ‘just surf, man!’. As for its picturesque surroundings, Rincon is coated in a golden sheen, a curtain of warmth that comes accompanied by clear-blue skies and palm trees. “Everything was really pastel-y,” laughs Ellis, “it sounds really cheesy, but it does look like it is out of a movie”; and if the surroundings aren’t enough to draw upon, the natives, with their sun-kissed hair and bronzed skin, are a vision of Caribbean bliss. “The native people there, the actual Puerto Ricans, they all have dark skin, beautiful hair, and gorgeous eyes,” he agrees.”

When asked how he chose his subjects, the answer is organic, “on the first day, I was milling about and saw some kids, and asked if I could take their picture, and they said no. I was like, ‘fuck! No one wants me to take their picture!’ So I spent the next few days hanging out by the beaches, surfing. I met some kids and started taking pictures of people I was hanging out with.”

There is a sense of nostalgia that seems to accompany this series. For Ellis, the natural comparison was the English town of Margate, “it kind of has the feel of a seaside town where everything is worn out, which is why everything might look quite old.” Perhaps there’s something about seaside resorts that stir memories of childhood in people.

From the intimate stares of his subjects and the rundown nature of Rincon’s architecture to the use of film and the wistful quality that accompanied it, Ellis’ images give an impression of warmth and good memories – a 35mm snapshot into one beautiful week in the sun.