Photographer rediscovers muse upon return to California


William Pangelinan has been shooting San Diego’s beaches for nearly as long has he has owned a camera. The only time he put it down, he said, was during a 10-year exile from La Jolla spent working in gloomy Pennsylvania.

The San Diego native has gladly returned to his roots after moving last summer to a place near La Jolla Cove. The beauty of the Jewel is once again inspiring him to point his lens toward the Pacific.

“There’s nothing better than waking up and being in a place where people want to come, and you’re here every day,” Pangelinan said. “The city, the town, it really is the Jewel. It’s so picturesque from almost any angle, and it’s still a beach town. The tide is always going in and out, the clouds are always moving. You can take a photo one morning and go back at a different time to the same spot and you’ll have a totally different photo.”

A variety of Pangelinan’s shots of La Jolla Cove are currently on display at Pannikin Cafe.

Pangelinan’s admiration of legendary nature photographer Ansel Adams’ black-and-white landscapes is reflected in his own photographs. He captures the tranquil beauty of the smooth rocks and sand, rolling waves and shifting clouds hovering over La Jolla Cove in both color and black-and-white film.

Lately, the landscape has been playing more of a supporting role, and the Cove’s surfers have become the focal points of Pangelinan’s photographs.

“I started taking photos as a hobby,” Pangelinan said. “I started with landscapes, and I then noticed that people, especially surfers, were interested in what I was doing. They asked me if I was taking pictures of them, and I said, no, I wasn’t. But one time I turned my camera that way and figured out that I really liked taking pictures of the surfers. They asked me if I had a Web site where they could see the photos, and I didn’t at first, so I decided I better put one up. Now I have a following of people who know about me through my Web site.”

The site,, has reached not only surfers and residents, but photography enthusiasts elsewhere.

Pangelinan and his family lived in Pacific Beach for many years, and his daughter, now a photographer in New York City, attended La Jolla High School.

After working for La Jolla architects Howard Oxley and Doug Manchester, Pangelinan moved east to Pennsylvania to pursue a corporate career as vice president of construction for a health company in the Philadelphia area.

Pangelinan said he has always had a serious artistic drive, but sadly lost his muse when he moved away from the coastline.

“I put the camera down for a long time,” he said. “Philly wasn’t as scenic as La Jolla, as you might imagine, so coming back here to the beauty of it has been really inspiring to go out and take pictures again.”

For an upcoming project, he plans to shoot various parts of La Jolla using only black-and-white film.

“The idea is to show La Jolla from different angles and hopefully cause the town to be seen in a different light, from a conceptual standpoint,” Pangelinan said. “My guess is that removing the color will bring out a different kind of beauty of La Jolla that people aren’t accustomed to seeing.”