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Famed Photographer Gray Malin On His Latest Tome and His Favorite Orange County Location

Allison Mitchell | June 18, 2019 | Lifestyle

For the first time, Los Angeles-based fine art photographer Gray Malin puts the Orange County coastline front and center as the latest installment in his famous À la Plage series.


From Crescent Bay to Salt Creek Beach, Gray Malin’s latest À la Plage series features more than 10 of O.C.’s most beloved shores. Shown here is “Main Beach Diagonal, Laguna Beach.”

“I started taking pictures when I was a teenager in Dallas,” shares popular aerial photographer Gray Malin (, who first rose to fame for his Prada Marfa series, selling the shots at a flea market in L.A. “I never really thought of it as a viable career, but in college I pursued it as a second major and never gave up on ‘the dream.’” These days, Malin has shot everywhere from Salar de Uyuni, the world’s larget salt flat in Bolivia, to the dreamy shores of Positano, Italy. And this season, he brings his artwork close to home with a series dedicated to Orange County’s most beloved beaches. Listen in.

What inspired you to shoot in O.C.?
I travel so often for work to such far-reaching places as Antarctica or Bhutan that sometimes I almost forget that inspiration is so readily available just south of where I live, in Los Angeles. I’ve long enjoyed an escape to O.C. for personal travel, but it wasn’t until I was shooting my series Gray Malin at the Coral Casino at the iconic hotel and private members-only club in Santa Barbara that I had that ‘aha!’ moment to get up in the air to capture more of Southern California’s celebrated coastline for my À la Plage series.

What locations can fans expect?
I was able to begin at Huntington Beach and work my way down to Dana Point. Of the six coastal cities that make up Orange County, I’m most familiar with Laguna Beach, and I think in turn I ended up shooting most of those beaches, as I recognized them even from high above in the helicopter.

Which location are you loving most?
I’ve had the pleasure of staying at the Montage Laguna Beach, which is located directly above the beach captured in ‘Treasure Island Vertical, Laguna Beach,’ so it’s fair to say I’m a bit partial to this beach. However, I really just love the composition of this particular shot. The placement of the rock, the vividness of the water, and a sprinkling of beachgoers and their umbrellas are very visually pleasing to me.

Be honest: are the people and colors we see the real deal?
For the most part, what you see is what I captured in that exact moment. There is some color correction that happens, but it’s not staged in advance or edited to create more people below than who was there at the time.

What’s next?
I have a very exciting collaboration with Splendid. Together, we created the Splendid x Gray Malin clothing and swimwear collection (available at Splendid and Bloomingdale’s, Fashion Island). My third coffee-table book, Italy ($40, Abrams) celebrates my love of the region’s coastline, and I’ll be stopping by Serena & Lily at Lido Marina Village to do a signing May 29. As for photography, I have quite a few new aerials coming out this year, specifically of San Francisco, the Hamptons and Hawaii in addition to brand-new locations like Pebble Beach and Cape Cod.


Photography by: Gray Malin