Who wants to get out of the water and grab a camera and shoot other people surfing? Not me.
I started shooting way back in 1978 when I was a young fella of 21. I only started shooting so I could pay for my love of surfing. The hardest part was actually to stop surfing and take pictures. But a near-fatal surfing accident from my skull hitting the reef put me on the path to a 35-year career of traveling the globe and following the best surfers in the world.
I’ve been able to get to the best surf spots in the world on everyone else’s dime. I have been to Tahiti 15 times, and as I write this I leave in 2 days to go back to cover the Billabong Pro at the now famous spot Teahupoo. I have been to Bali probably 20 times and seen it go from a sleepy little island that surfers found to an out of control party spot that seems to never stop.
The great thing about my career was getting to all these spots when they were still uncrowned, It’s really sad to see how crowded that most of these places have become, but I can’t really complain because a lot of my early shots of these beautiful waves are the reason so many people want to travel there now. Its kind of a weird feeling to know that if all those photographers – myself included – had had not come these places wouldn’t have changed that much.
I live in Hawaii on the north shore of Oahu, and six months of the year I get to shoot in my own backyard. The other six months aren’t so bad either—I travel around the world chasing some of the best wave action. I just go wherever its winter and the waves are pumping.
These days its pretty exciting to be shooting, because limits are being pushed and the level of surfing has gotten ridiculous. Surfers are riding waves as awesome as the ones we used to draw on our notebooks in school.
But we never guessed that someday you could ride 100-foot-tall monsters by being toed by jet skis. That’s really the only way to ride those waves. The things surfers and photographers are doing these days are truly death defying. I have been shooting so long.
I have seen world champs come and go, boards get smaller and smaller, boundaries pushed more and more; and after all this time I’m still a surf stoked kid just waiting for the killer shot. I love what I do and I will keep shooting as long as I can get away with it. Sometimes I feel like I’ve never worked a day in my life.