By Jack English
When shooting photos of pro surfers the rule of thumb is you don’t break down (putting your camera away) until the surfer has reached the shoreline. What has happen on a few occasions is you get antsy and you break down thinking the surfer is going in, and the next thing you know he paddles back out and bust some huge move – yes, you missed it!
When meeting a pro surfer at your local spot it’s common courtesy for each other to work as hard as possible until the waves go bad. Here in southern California the wind usually kicks in between 9 and 10am and as soon as that happens you call it quits. So if you begin shooting around 7 your all finished in around 2 hours. If either the surfer or photographer begin winging about whatever it’s always in good faith that the other party encourages them to stay out and make due.
Now if you (photographer) just show up to the beach and didn’t plan or organize a shoot with any surfer that is when you can make your own call when to go in at anytime.
Now what happens when you go on a trip with a crew of surfers? Your stuck until the last guy goes in. This is where it’s not really fair for the photog. If your in the water shooting four surfers and three of the surfers go in, you have to stay out until the fourth guy comes in. Nothing is worse when that last surfer to come in is the worst surfer of the trip. You keep shooting, but are praying to god he breaks his board or bust a fin, anything to get him to go in.
I recall on one occasion I almost came to tears. Trust me, inside I was balling. I was with Peter Mendia, Shea and Cory Lopez and we we’re shooting Lake Worth in Palm Beach Florida. Cory and I flew over to Florida where we met up with Peter and Shea where we first chased hurricane Gustav in the Panhandle and then hurricane Hanna in Palm Beach. So their I was shooting from the water and the waves we’re a solid 6ft plus, raining, and the ocean had this major current sucking us down the beach. If you can imagine I had to swim against this crazy current for over four hours straight kicking the entire time. See, 90% of surfing photographers aren’t in the best shape. It’s not that I am over weight, but you try swimming in a pool for four hours and see how you feel. Pro surfers, this is what they do everyday is surf. As a photographer (water) you may not shoot for months. So on that note it’s very easy to get out of shape quickly.
I was so use to Cali conditions I thought we would be done in about 2 hours. I was so wrong. The session just kept going and going and going. I was loosing it. I knew being with the Lopez brothers who are notorious for surfing long hours but I was just banking on the surf not to stay so good. I couldn’t say anything to the crew knowing this is why we we’re all here. I promise you, it was close to four hours of swimming and by the time I came in I felt so physically sick. I have shot Hawaii from the water, but that is a cake walk to what I had just went through. In Hawaii you don’t have heavy currents pushing you up or down the beach. Don’t take me wrong Hawaii is a heavy place to shoot as you have much different and difficult challenges of it’s own. I just recall getting to the beach, changing out of our gear and I couldn’t even speak. I truly felt I needed to go to the hospital. I just remember looking over at Shea and saying “I need some advil”. I wasn’t even thirsty or hungry as it was so far past that.
So today I sent out an email to Peter Mendia, the Hobgoods, the Lopez brothers and their good friend DJ Struntz to ask them all the same question – Who surfs longer, the Lopez bros or the Hobgoods? Knowing the Hobgoods are also known for surfing long hours.
I seen Shea do 12 hours one time with only minimal Breaks for food and water. We were in a comp that day to see who could surf longer. I broke my board a half hour before dark. So he won. – Cory Lopez
cory surfs the longest, shea fishes the longest and conserves his energy the most, so when you average the two they kind of cancel each other out leaving the hobgoods the winners…hahahahaha happy belated birthday cory! – DJ Struntz
No one surfs longer than Cory, still yet to meet a person that can go all day in the surf like that kid. I think it’s that Cuban gene that allows him to do that. Peace Damo – Damien Hobgood
I’d say Corey takes us all out then damo, me and Shea don’t even surf anymore unless its pumping!!! C – CJ Hobgood
Cj just nailed it. Cory surfs the longest sessions out of almost anybody. Cory takes the cake on the longest sessions when it’s good Shea likes to surf when it’s good and he does conserve energy – Peter Mendia
You guys are awesome. We all need to go get barreled together. – Cory Lopez
If I had my way, I would never come in on those epic days. For me, surfing is about the experience now – not the precision and consistency of my technique. Time on the water teaching my kids to surf and fish so that they can grow up with similar experiences to I, has taken precedent over my own urge to rip and tear when the waves are more properly suited for a toddler or longboard. The last trip we all did together, I believe Cory and I were neck and neck for water time, and that was double anyone else’s. And triple anyone else’s fishing time. DJ has always been powerless to my reply I was conserving energy for when the conditions become optimum so as to not shoot in crap while he over amps. That got his goat then, just as much as it does today. Love you all and definitely up for the challenge of another surf and fish off in Panama. That is if you grommets think you can keep up this time. – Shea Lopez
Peter Mendia sharing his home spot
Just another marathon session for Cory Lopez