UC Santa Barbara alumnus Aaron Howard self-published a coffee table-style book this year, featuring a decade’s worth of nature photography of Isla Vista. 

The 300-page book, “Isla Vista Seasons,” is filled with photos from Coal Oil Point Natural Reserve to Campus Point Beach “and everything in between.” The photos feature the ocean, landscapes, sunsets, sunrises and wildlife that he has seen since starting at UCSB over 15 years ago. 

The photos feature the ocean, landscapes, sunsets, sunrises and wildlife that he has seen since starting at UCSB over 15 years ago. Courtesy of Aaron Howard

Howard said the idea for synthesizing his photographs into a book began three years ago when he was categorizing his photographs and realized he wanted to convey his view of Isla Vista. 

“I figured seasons was one of the best ways to do it, because, well one, it’s kind of funny that a lot of people think there’s not many seasons here,” Howard said. “While they are kind of light at times, we do get some dramatic seasonal events, and so, it was my way to showcase the natural world that surrounds us and the best way possible.

Howard graduated from UCSB with a degree in earth science in 2011. In 2016, he earned his master’s degree in environmental science from UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. After graduating, Howard worked as an oceanography researcher at UCSB. He also worked on beach erosion for the Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties before deciding to independently pursue his photography book.

The book was produced in conjunction with a book production manager and book designer, but was self-published.

Howard said that his relationship with the outdoors was what inspired the creation of this project.

“My interest for this style of photography is initially rooted in my connection with the ocean,” Howard said. “I’m in the ocean recreating a lot, whether it be just surfing or kayaking, or just going for a dunk or hanging out on the beach. And you really start to become aware after a lot of observation of the same area, a lot of little subtleties and details and seasonalities.”

Each chapter starts with sunrises, ends with sunsets and features each of the four seasons.

“There’s this beautiful feeling of awakening from nature that you get in the fall,” Howard said. “Summer can sometimes be so stagnant around here. The ocean is usually very non-active. The waves are small. It’s just calm. And [in] fall, you start getting some crisper nights; the surf and ocean becomes a little more alive again; the wildlife becomes a little more active … There just seems to be a fresh energy that fills the town.”

Howard said that the book is his version of a tribute to the Isla Vista community.

“[Isla Vista] has shaped a big portion of my life and who I am and been the roots of the lifestyle that I’ve built,” Howard said. “This is a way to give back to not only that community, but just just a tribute to the natural framework that makes Isla Vista one-of-a-kind.”

Howard hopes that the book will be enjoyed by Isla Vistans and loved ones. 

“I want this book to be a gift to all past, present and future UCSB and Isla Vista community,” Howard said. “That could be a city college student that lived in Isla Vista; it could be a long term Isla Vista resident that never went to school here, or anything in between. I really want to just have this book to withstand the test of time and really be a valued piece of Isla Vista history for students to enjoy.”

The book, which started with 10,000 photos and was filtered down to 300, showcases Howard’s passion for Isla Vista, he said. 

“For the most part, it was just pure passion and love for capturing this beautiful, special place,” Howard said. 

Howard plans to create a digital storefront to order the books. He is also hosting a book launch event on March 16 from 12-3 p.m. at Sea Lookout Park.