Taken at the start of 2024, photographer Issy Croker's images of Ahangama, in Sri Lanka's Galle region, evoke the simple joy of life beside the sea.
A small surfers' town on Sri Lanka's south coast, Ahangama lies east of Weligama and Mirissa, but has little in common with these larger towns. January marks the peak of the island country's dry season, meaning the local population swells with the arrival of a nomadic surfing community, and the pace of life slows to match the ebb and flow of the Indian Ocean.
"Around here, sunrises are spent surfing at Lazy Left or Devil's Rock," Croker tells SUITCASE, "and are followed by long breakfasts at Sundays or The Kip, drinking icy coffees made with cashew milk in the shade of the palm trees."
Croker is a lifestyle photographer and works out of her Hackney studio, Narroway. Her work focuses on capturing the joys of everyday life, including food, travel and people. She is currently travelling, after declaring 2024 to be her "year of surfing" - the two-month ocean-focused trip began in Sri Lanka, and has since taken her to Indonesia and Australia.
Her warm, saturated images of Ahangama put the surf town's residents, and its temporary visitors, in focus: vignettes are offered of boys playing in the waves, their sun-kissed skin glittering with droplets of seawater; the passionate pinks and reds of watermelon and lychee, on sale from the backs of trucks and street-side stalls; and a coastline awash with celestial golden light. It's a dreamy, indolent world.
"Lounging in the shade in between surfs, we could listen to the rattle of trains running along the tracks," Croker reminisces. "The sound of tuk-tuks became the backing track, the taste of a cold Lion beer, the refreshing end to a day of surfing."
"Most days I'd go walking for hours, meandering through small villages and along the train tracks, stopping to drink a fresh coconut or eat a bag of mangosteens gazing out across the glittering sea."