newport remembered

6

On the Heels of California Wildfires with @stuartpalley

To see Stuart’s latest updates on wildfires in California, follow @stuartpalley on Instagram.

For Stuart Palley (@stuartpalley), fire has always been on the periphery of his life. A native of Newport Beach, California, he remembers being evacuated at the age of 4 by a wildfire that spread from nearby Laguna Beach. Now a 27-year-old photographer documenting fires in the region, Stuart is poised to drop everything at a moment’s notice for his work. “I’ve left my own birthday party early to go cover a fire,” he says. Stuart compares the severity of California’s fire risk due to drought to lighting a match. “It almost sounds like it, too. You know when you light a match it makes that whoosh kind of sound? That’s what happens when the brush lights on fire.” Working across seasons, in remote areas, and at all hours of night and day, Stuart also looks for artistic ways to capture California’s “fire regime,” a cycle of growth, burn and renewal. “I’m fascinated by the way fires burn and the way they work and how it’s, at the end of the day, something that’s natural.”