January 29, 2014 0

A Generous Fox Has Arrived

By in Beach Access, Surfing

Sophisticated Gents Engaging in a Sunset Toast

A company’s prestige on the North Shore is largely determined by their team house’s proximity to a small handful of breaks – Pipeline being the most important. Anywhere beyond Sunset to the east and Log Cabins to the west is oft-considered the boondocks. Brand presence is very important on the North Shore, but not just because of the exposure. After surfing an upsetting heat during the Pipe Masters, no sponsored rider wants to take a humiliating 30 minute walk back to their team house. Two hundred yards might as well be two miles. Budgets were pretty tight this year though. For cost-cutting measures, a few surf brands opted to anchor themselves outside of this premium zone… well outside the zone – San Diego and Orange Counties in some cases. Not a good look.

A Reward For Stellar Southern Hospitality

Fox, conversely, sprung for a gorgeous house at Rockpiles, and they were very generous with their hospitality. They threw an amazing bbq this season. You can buy a fair amount of goodwill on the North Shore with just a few cases of cold, domestic beer. But when your bbq has beautiful women passing out brimming platters of sashimi and tempura, your brand has officially arrived. At sunset, chilled sake was unveiled. Damien Hobgood, adept in his Japanese etiquette, understood that it was gauche for guests to pour their own shots. With the deft hands of a ninja, he quickly tended to the needs of his thirsty associates. Minutes later, he was rewarded handsomely with an enthusiastic kiss on the cheek from his adorable daughter. Southern hospitality at it’s best from Florida’s second-most famous surfer.

Surfing's Elite - Filming Barrels or Fighting Crime

At dusk, two silhouetted figures could be seen at the property’s edge manning a remote-controlled GoPro drone. As they filmed the surfers at Rockpiles, their focus remained solely on their high-tech device. The pair was completely oblivious to the DJ, catered food and the revelers behind them. They were utterly consumed with childlike fascination by their gadget. Who were these guests, I wondered to myself? Upon closer inspection, it became apparent this duo weren’t in fact children of pro surfers or industry insiders. It was Joel Parkinson and the venerable Kauai charger, Bruce Irons. They were utterly engrossed with their toy. Their singularly focused concentration on the drone reminded me of two children on Christmas morning or perhaps two soldiers fighting Al Qaeda with a joystick. Either way, their airborne camera soon returned to the party and so did their attention. Bruce later told me that he had been flying the drone over Nathan Fletcher’s house each morning to see if his buddy was awake yet.

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December 12, 2013 0

Off The Wall and Out of The Crib

By in Beach Access


It’s that time of year again. The Pipe Masters is on, the waves are world class, and the surf circus is in town. You often hear tales of yore about how rough and lawless “The Country” used to be. Even by today’s standards, there’s still no shortage of heavy local regulators handing out beat downs to the deserved. When you visit the North Shore, you should most definitely tread lightly and show respect. But somehow things feels a little more relaxed this year. Are the days of palpable aggression and intimidation by the old guard waning? Probably not. Nonetheless, the vibe over here feels slightly mellower. The decks and lawns overlooking Pipeline are populated with more children than drunken revelers – the only ones stumbling around and causing any mayhem seem to be the toddlers. It’s actually pretty damn heartwarming to see notorious characters that you might not have wanted to even make eye-contact with in the past who are now sporting radiant smiles with children in tow. Judging from the tone of things, fatherhood seems to have had a tempering effect on tempers. I even overheard one particularly infamous enforcer lamenting about how people on the North Shore these days are more prone to use their fingertips than their fists “…nobody fights here anymore – these social media kids all just talk shit and brawl with each other online…” Which is worse? I guess it all depends on your perspective - a fat lip will heal, but a nasty Instagram comment lasts forever. Either way, there’s still an ample supply of Hawaiian slaps to be had if you go seeking them out. So this year, if you find yourself on a surfboard betwixt an angry local and a set wave, you might want to think about having that Kids-R-Us gift card handy when you reach the sand.

Just Act Right and Show Some Respect and This Legend Will Be All Smiles

The Legend Continues - Axel Irons Ruling the North Shore Already

Shredding at Fatherhood - Consummate Gentleman Danny Fuller & Tori Praver


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July 30, 2013 0

The Beach Just Became A Little Bit Hotter

By in Beach Access
The Lovely Ireland Basinger Baldwin – Photo By Justin Jay. Shot on location in Montuak, NY 

Check out your news stands for the current issue of BEACH featuring Ireland Baldwin. You’ve seen her on Page Six, and you know her from the infamous answering machine message from her famous father. But she is undoubtedly a budding superstar, a charming young lady, and every bit as beautiful as her mom Kim Basinger. Keep your eyes on Ireland – her stock is rising.




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May 15, 2013 0

“Then Me And Mick Are Gonna Jam With The Stones”

By in Uncategorized

…Jeff Spicolli said it best. What better fantasy could a teenage stoner have in the early 80′s? I’ve gotten to live my own fantasy the last several years – shooting some of my surf heros and getting to document their candid antics on the North Shore. In addition, I’ve been fortunate enough to have my pictures grace the pages of Transworld Surf with some of the most legendary photographers in the game. It’s a tight fraternity and I’m thrilled to be invited inside the clubhouse. Big up to all the shooters and editors that made the 2013 Transworld Surf Photo Book such an amazing document of the last 12 months of surfing. Don’t miss checking it out.

Last Words - 2013 Transworld Surf Photo Issue




February 25, 2013 0

An Aussie Cousin Oliver

By in Uncategorized

Stab Magazine – sourcing a physical copy this Australian surf mag in the US is is about as difficult as the aerial pageantry seen in John John Florence and Blake Kueny’s new surf pic DONE. The boys over at Transworld Surf are my badass and stylie brothers, but Stab is like that cool cousin from far away that you only get to see once in a while. Ask your buddies from Down Under to send you a copy of Stab in the mail. In the meantime, check out their website, and don’t miss seeing Done – now available on itunes.

If you regret buying said movie or mag, well, then you and I simply don’t need to be friends…


January 16, 2013 0

Look A Gorilla In The Eyes

By in Beach Access
Hawaii is a warrior culture. Little more than a century ago, they had their land annexed, their monarchy overthrown, and their Queen imprisoned. You can feel traces of this history in the culture of the people. If you treat them with respect and consideration, they will show you their trademark “aloha” spirit. They will be some of the warmest and gracious hosts you will ever experience. But if you show up on the island with a sense of entitlement and dismissiveness, you will likely experience precisely the opposite. Hawaiians have a very close relationship with fighting, hunting, and the institutions of family and community. But don’t believe everything that you learned about Hawaii from the Brady Bunch – not all Hawaiians have black hair and dark skin. This shaggy blonde-haired ripper is as Hawaiian as they come. CJ Kanuha, or Vanilla Gorilla as he is known by friends, is the embodiment of Aloha. His spirit is warm, his laughter is infectious, he oozes creativity from every pore of his lanky frame, and he’d give you the shirt off his back if you asked for it… But do not mistake his generosity and buoyant demeanor for weakness. If you find yourself competing against him in a surf heat, you’ll probably get your feelings hurt. If you respond to his benevolence with disrespect, there will be very unpleasant repercussions.
CJ Kanuha – The Vanilla Gorilla is Bananas


Bruce Irons – Kauai 

I came up with the idea of trying to capture Bruce Irons blowing vortex bubbles underwater  (…”like dolphins do,” Bruce added). I started fumbling with my phone attempting to find some tips on the internet about how to execute the trick. Before I could locate anything pertinent, Bruce had already figured it out for himself. He is a very intense individual and he has an unmistakable love for the ocean. His personal life has included some profoundly difficult chapters recently, including the loss of his brother, surf legend Andy Irons. But there was something so refreshingly playful and relaxed about the way he acted in the water. He was completely content and at ease. Moments after this shot was taken, he gave a me perplexingly amusing lecture about how “…basically, the entire universe is ruled by vortexes.”


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November 14, 2012 0

Got My First Cover – Thanks Bruce, Chris Cote, Nixon and the Whole Transworld Surf Crew

By in Uncategorized

September 19, 2012 0


By in Uncategorized

March 16, 2012 1

A Vanity Plate For Napping?

By in Beach Access, Surfing

I’ve definitely been sleeping on blog updates.

But since we left off…

Silent movies are back in fashion… Gas is expensive, but the Ipad Two will soon be real cheap… Traveling on a cruise ship is a dangerous endeavor, but still not as risky as investing in a Greek treasury bond… And a Chinese dude learned how to play amazing basketball – for about two weeks.

On the political front, watching the Republican nomination process has been a delicious train wreck of infighting and political cannibalism. Herman Cain, a pizza mogul with some sexual peccadillos in his past, apparently thought that a “9-9-9″ catch-phrase and his black skin would be sufficient gimmicks to secure him the nomination. Texas good ol’ boy Rick Perry learned the hard way that the “raising money” part of a campaign is a lot easier than the “actually knowing things” part. An obese drug-addict named Rush Limbaugh somehow managed to alienate most of the female voting block in this country… while an adulterous pudgy relic from the 1990′s named Newt continued to spoil it for the rest of the conservative candidates like a drunk uncle who just doesn’t know when to leave a holiday dinner. And finally, it now appears that a filthy-rich white man who believes in magic underwear (yes, look it up) is going to be running against Barak Obama in November. Stay tuned.

But back to surfing… John John Florence ruled this season on the North Shore. In case you missed it, there was a last-second finish in the Volcom Pipe Pro that has apt comparisons to a classic Jordan fade away buzzer-beater of yore. Keiren Perrow won the Pipe Masters. (Kieren who, you say?.. Exactly. He’s a talented surfer and a super nice guy, but his victory was akin to the Jacksonville Jaguars winning the Superbowl). The Eddie Aikau contest was a no-go. And Taj Burrow set off the season with a stylie win at Snapper.

Here are some random visual highlights from the season…

John Florence - Triple Crown Victory

The Pipe Masters circus is in town and it’s literally going down in John John’s front yard. He is about to win the Triple Crown. Just weeks later, he will defeat the elder statesman Jamie O’Brien in the final seconds of the Volcom Pipe Pro and thus graduate from a junior-varsity star to an outright legend. The event’s commentator and consummate wordsmith Chris Cote couldn’t have said it better – Jamie had poked a sleeping giant. The contest will be remembered for one of the single most exciting endings in competitive surf history. John Florence will absolutely dominate this season. But all the glory, winnings, and media fervor will seem incidental to him. His pure love of the sport is paramount. In this picture, Pipe is firing yet you can see in his eyes that he simply wants to go back out and surf.

Kelly Slater and Eddie Vedder - Slater Residence, North Shore

In my opinion, Benji Weatherly is basically the honorary mayor of the North Shore. His wisecracking and wit seem to be a welcome addition to any gathering. He invited me to come with him for a drop by at Kelly’s place. In New York terms, I would basically be considered his “plus one”. I was grateful. Shortly thereafter, I was introduced to “Ed”. I laughed and thought to myself, “of course there’s a rock star hanging out at Kelly’s beachfront house. He’s the 11 time world-champion.”. If Obama had walked out from the kitchen and handed me an ice cold Primo, I don’t think I would have been too surprised at that point. The atmosphere felt relaxed, but definitely exclusive. Kelly and Eddie are both absolute titans at what they do. I shot this picture in Kelly’s garage while he was showing Eddie some equipment from his board closet. I suspect that Eddie has an equivalent room in his house with all of his guitars that Kelly has gotten a similar tour of. Seeing this made me realize some of the parallels between what the two of them do. They both have experienced things that us civilians will never truly understand. The respect that they have for each other was palatable in the air.

Parker Coffin - Santa Barbara's Finest Helps Keep It Going.

Fending off drunk cougars and snagging barrels is not for the faint of heart. Parker is a champion. But there comes that point in the night where something has to happen to keep the party going. Is it going to be a “pro-ho” puking on the carpet? Is it going to be a fist-fight between two shirtless assholes that everyone wants to see get beat up anyway? Or is it going to be a young ripper taking charge and throwing on a snorkel & mask as if to say “it’s Tuesday night on the North Shore, you pussies, let’s throw this fucking shindig into gear!” Subsequently, early the next morning while his elders are listlessly sitting around shaking off their cheep-beer-and-frozen-pizza-hangovers and claiming that the “tide just isn’t quite right”, he’s out in the empty lineup getting the waves of his life with a smirk on his face…Talented and wise beyond his years. From one Santa Barbara native to another, I’m damn proud to have you reppin’ 805 for us, Lil’ Man.

Parko and Mahli - Billabong House, North Shore

While this photo was being taken, Joel’s son Mahli was playing with Axel, the son of the late Andy Irons. His eyes were fixed directly on Axel. It was a terrifically charming scene. Getting to witness the nascent friendship of these two kids and getting to capture this quiet moment of bonding was truly a heartwarming experience. Considering the family names that these kids both have, their lives will soon become much more complicated.

Bruce and Occy - MIA

The Surfer Poll awards are televised locally in Hawaii and on few select cable channels stateside. It’s a great opportunity for the industry to put on a pair of long pants and a shirt with buttons, and get drunk together. But from a production point of view, well, let’s just say it ain’t The Oscars… When Bruce was introduced and called to the stage, there was a solid one-minute of dead air time while he was nowhere to be found. Freddy Patachia, who handled the hosting responsibilities like a gentleman and a pro, was driven to simply laugh and declare, “Come on, Bruce, this is live TV”. But you can’t put a photo booth, props, costumes, free tequila, and a bunch of surfers in a room and expect them to promptly avail themselves for the camera when directed – that might fly for a bunch camera-whore actors in Hollywood, but ultimately these surfers don’t really give a shit about the accolades. It’s just an open bar and an opportunity to hang with their buddies.

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September 28, 2011 1

Don’t Shoot A Waterfall Horizontally

By in Beach Access, Surfing

Hey event photographers – sorry to jump in front of your frame and fuck up your shot… but thanks for helping to make mine amazing. I think you are missing the big picture though.

He’s Kelly Slater, not JD Salinger – the last time I checked, there were plenty of pictures of Kelly in existence. Does the world really need to see another tightly-cropped shot of Kelly’s face? No offense to the blue-eyed champ, but the answer is no. It’s about the context of where he is that makes for a compelling and interesting photo. The fact that there were swarms of photographers elbowing each other through the surf (including the Quiksilver broadcast cameraman who I personally saw drop a 100k rig into the ocean) – THAT is what was unique about the scenario.

You stood thoughtlessly in a crowd and took the same picture as 20 other people. What did you end up capturing? A redundant and average picture taken at high noon – the textbook wrong time of day for flattering lighting. Come on guys. Know your lane and know your context. You aren’t doing an intimate sitting with Kelly Slater where you designed the lighting, set the creative tone and influenced the final image vis-à-vis your personality and your direction. You aren’t creating a moment on the beach. You are simply capturing one. Capture something interesting. Just because you shoot a tight frame with long lens doesn’t make it a portrait.

This above situation is entirely about the narrative. The greatest surfer to ever live is about to paddle out in the final heat of the largest surf contest in history. The crowd is at a fever pitch with anticipation and excitement. Kelly is hypnotically focused and immersed in concentration. The beach is teeming with photographers flocking aggressively around him trying to get his picture… Hey guess what, photographers – YOU are the interesting angle in this scenario.

An Intimate Portrait of Senator Barack Obama shot for Time by Callie Shell

Here is an example of a brilliant photographer making the right creative choice. This picture was taken by Callie Shell, who shot a wonderful essay on Senator Barak Obama during his run for the Presidency. I really love this photo and her work is always fantastic. Which particular element of this setting would be important to capture? Obama’s in-focus face? Of course not. She chose to showcase the soles of his shoes instead. This decision helped to craft an evocative and humanizing narrative. This picture speaks volumes about the man and his exhausting journey to the White House.

So if you find yourself part of a frenzied herd of photographers desperately vying for an opportunity to shoot the same subject from the same angle, chances are, you are the money shot.

Red Carpet Mayhem - Anywhere, USA

I Thought This Crowd Was Deep Until The Quik Pro NY Happened. The Man - Pipeline, North Shore

Celebrity Shopping - St. Tropez, France

"Look, Mom, I Got A Shot Of Diddy's Shoulder!" Crowds Surround The Mogul While Shopping - St. Tropez, France

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December 24, 2010 5

All Icing, But No Cake….

By in Beach Access, Surfing

No, you are not a photographer. You just own a camera….

Imagine if a new surfboard was invented that allowed every beginner surfer to think that they were a pro. Imagine if the board allowed them to paddle out effortlessly to any lineup without needing to understand the break. Imagine the board would allow them to dole out flashy, isolated manuevers, but they’d have no concept of how to connect turns, parlay energy or control their speed. Strictly icing and no cake.

Now substitute that imaginary surfboard with a cheap digital camera. Swap out said clueless surfer with a random consumer in the camera aisle at Best Buy…. Welcome to the world of photography in the age of cheap digital cameras.

Photography used to be a very unique medium. A mixture of skill, science and art. Just a few years ago, if you had a decent eye for composition but no concept of the rudiments of photography, at best you might be able to execute a blurry “artistic black and white” photo of your neighbor to hang on your bathroom wall. Photography used to have a distinct barrier of entry that entailed knowing the basic relationships between aperture, shutter-speed, ISO, and the fundamentals of exposure and color theory. The digital revolution has changed much of that. It’s democratized photography. Now anyone can be a photographer…… or at least they believe they can.

Almost anybody with two eyes and a camera can get lucky and snag a good photo every once in a while – but it used to cost a lot of money to even try. Armed with an erstwhile film camera, it was an expensive endeavor to shoot out-of-focus, poorly cropped or just plain boring images. It forced you to examine the world in a very particular way and provided an incentive to really think about what you were trying to say with every frame. Each click of the shutter was essentially a dollar spent. Shitty pictures had consequences.

Today, modern electronics have dramatically changed the learning curve and the cost of photography. The need for a unique vision and perspective are often overshadowed by ease of use and the ability to take a virtually unlimited amount of photos. It’s all-too-common for people today to shoot 100 random or redundant party pictures and then post all 100 of them online. No editing, no thought, no perspective. That’s not vision, that’s just information.

Dick Avedon's 60's Masterpiece - Sad Marilyn

Richard Avedon’s Sad Marilyn is one of my favorite portraits of all time. It is a perfect illustration of the importance and impact of thoughtful editing. It depicts Marylin Monroe in an intimate and candid moment that is rarely seen. It’s iconic.  Avedon certainly had several other frames of  Marilyn to choose from. Frames where she was laughing. Frames where she was looking at the lens. Frames that reinforced what the existing image of Maryln Monroe was. Obvious choices. He chose instead to show only this particular frame. That bold and decisive choice is what made this portrait so outstanding. That’s editing. That’s vision. That’s creative balls.

Taking pictures has been reduced to the simple act of pushing a button. Nevertheless, the ability to digitally capture an image is not the same thing as having the insight and imagination to shoot a compelling photograph.

A perfect analogy of the paradox between creativity and technology can be illustrated by comparing different genres of music. For example, it takes a very long time to learn to play a guitar well. It’s complicated. There is a barrier of entry to being a rock star. It’s easy to make fun of 80′s hair bands and focus on the spandex and the makeup. But complicated arpeggios and intricate guitar licks were also a large part of that culture. These bands were usually comprised of relatively well-trained musicians – well trained musicians making music that would eventually be the subject of widespread ridicule.

Contrast that with hip hop. At face value, it would seem that it would be easier to create hip hop music – it doesn’t involve years of lessons or extensive amounts of gear. It’s just words and a beat, right?  Every would-be thug or white teenager in his parent’s basement can be a outstanding rapper, right? Absolutely not. How many truly extraordinary rappers are there? Very few indeed. There is a reason why Biggie Smalls is revered. It might be physically easier to produce a hip hop song than it is to play the guitar. It’s also physically easier to shoot a modern digital camera than it is use a Leica M6 rangefinder. But to be culturally significant and to make great work is a different feat altogether. In the end, a guitar, a turntable and a camera are simply tools of expression for a medium. There’s an artistic threshold that advances in technology alone won’t get you past. Simply put, not everyone is gifted.

Technology might be able to lower the barrier of entry to a particular field. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is a shortcut to excellence. There will always be one unavoidable fact – Actual talent, vision and creativity are elusive and irreplaceable.

Here are some shots of titans of their medium trying their hand at mine. I’m still searching for that imaginary surfboard….

Jordy Smith - Number 2 In The World Trying To Focus at Pipeline

Tom Carroll With An Aussie Eye At Wiamea

The Lovely Coco Ho at Rocky Point

World Tour Competitor Pat Gudauskas Sitting One Out At Log Cabbins, North Shore

Taylor Knox Burning Through Steph Gilmore's Super-8 Stock - Rip Curl House

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January 10, 2011 2

It’s The Country, Not A Zoo….

By in Beach Access, Business, Surfing

You’re probably not invited……

Don’t expect to jump off a bus with your suntan lotion and fanny pack and get to truly experience the North Shore. This is the birthplace of modern surfing but it’s not open to the public. It’s an extremely tight-knit and intimate community. Outsiders need to be expressly invited in by an existing family member. Think of it like the Mafia – you need to be vouched for by someone.

During the month of December, nowhere else on the globe can you find such a concentrated group of professional surfers. There are approximately 20 houses situated on the hallowed stretch of beach from Rockpiles to Ehukai Beach Park. This distance is only the equivalent of a few city blocks long, but you will find practically the entire surf industry located here during the Triple Crown. Although a few teams choose to be either thrifty or incognito and post-up slightly farther down the beach, anywhere past V-Land to the east and Log Cabins to the west is essentially the boondocks. A company’s status is largely determined by their proximity to a small handful of breaks – Pipeline being the most important. In a brilliant marketing coup, Volcom has managed to anchor themselves at the fulcrum of the action with two team houses directly in front of Pipeline. This formula is largely prestige oriented, but it’s also grounded in some degree of practicality. Brand presence here is important, but not just for the exposure. After surfing an upsetting Pipeline heat, no rider wants to take a humiliating mile-long walk to their team house or hop on a bicycle. Forget it. Two hundred yards might as well be 2 miles. The Players don’t drive or bike to their heats. They walk.

The central focus of every house is its view of the ocean. When the waves are firing, anyone not surfing is sitting outside critiquing every wave ridden. The nearby reef breaks are the grand arena, and the team houses are the backstage area. The houses are all situated on sandy landscaped berms that are raised well above the beach. The surfers are sequestered on lawns, patios and balconies well above the public, like surfing gods on a stage. In order to see them from the sand, civilians have to crane their necks metaphorically towards the sky. You need to literally and figuratively gaze toward the heavens to observe them. But you wont find any locked gates or security guards posted in front of these houses. Those who belong there can walk freely from the beach, up the stairs and into these houses. Those who don’t belong know it and stay away.

It’s called the Country, but in many ways, winter on the North Shore is reminiscent of high school. It has lots of the same central characters. There are the superstar athletes, the groupies, the girlfriends and the sidekicks. There are the JV players, eager to advance themselves up the pecking order. There are the legendary and accomplished alumni that are universally revered….. and then there are the broken heros and also-rans who you find lingering about with beer bellies and tales of yore attempting to leverage their previous achievements. There are the bullies with robust physiques and fragile egos. There are house-parties and drunken blowouts replete with fist fights, trashed living rooms, and beer-induced mayhem. Don’t find yourself alone at the party when the beer runs out and the boys start taking their shirts off. Ten PM is the Hawaiian midnight, and nothing good happens after midnight

There is an unspoken hierarchy on the North Shore, and it’s actually rather democratic. Nobody cares what college you attended or who your father is. It’s singularly focused. Your place in the food chain revolves entirely around surfing. The proving grounds are just yards away from everyone’s doorstep. It all boils down to how well can you can handle yourself against the most storied, epic and dangerous waves in the world.

Just In From Waikiki Beach? - This Is YOUR View At Pipeline......

..... This Is THEIR View Of Pipeline - Kelly Slater Ripping Back Door

Guess Which One Doesn't Have An 808 Area Code

Mick Fanning, Matt Wilkinson and The Aussie Crew - Rip Curl House

Chippa Wilson And Benji Weatherley- Analog House

A Friendly Message From Kamalei Alexander

Dusty Payne and Leather-Clad Waterman Dave Wassell - Volcom A-Team House

Jamie O'Brien And His Boys Pose On His Porch At Pipeline For A Bikini-Clad Shutterbug

Hurley Team Rider Ace Buchan Snagging A Free Margarita At The Billabong House

Mid Afternoon Mayhem - Volcom Style

Big Island Heros Pepper Rock The Volcom House After The Pipe Finals

Taj Burrow. Sunset With An Ice Cold Beer At Pipe. Billabong House

Moments After Winning His 3rd Triple Crown – Joel Parkinson And Aussie Legend Mark Occhilupo

Kai Barger Scopes While Michael Ho Hugs The Late-Great Andy Irons

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January 27, 2011 0

You Are Probably Not That Special

By in Beach Access, Surfing

“Cocaine is a hell of a drug.” – Rick James

…. As is fame. Fame can be downright intoxicating. The public has a voracious appetite for celebrities. It is human nature to be fascinated by extraordinary people. Not just some reality-show dipshit, or an heiress with tits and a publicist – but someone truly special. Someone blessed with an uncanny abundance of creativity or charisma or brilliance or athletic prowess. These traits are rare. People gravitate towards exceptional people.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to shoot some remarkably compelling and captivating people from many different realms of life. Rock stars, hip-hop moguls, professional athletes and Hollywood actors. I’ve been invited to document their world, and in turn feast vicariously off of the crumbs of their fame. But I have the luxury of executing a quick escape back to my life of privacy and anonymity at any time. I’ve experienced fame by association and it takes a moment to decompress afterwards. Ultimately though, I see my role as a civilian as a blessing. A wise man once said “Mo money, mo problems”…. I believe it was Confucius.

No matter what field you examine, the politics of fame are fairly universal. It’s pretty simple, really. It ultimately all revolves around the same premise. There are select groups of people that are tremendously gifted at a particular activity. The rest of us are left to grapple with a desire to engage in some combination of the following: observing them; documenting them; ruminating over them; making money off them; befriending them; sleeping with them; or just plain trying to be them….. And who wouldn’t.

2010 Pipeline Masters Winner Jeremy Flores

Bay Area Rapper and Internet Sensation Lil B - The Based God. Highline Ballroom NYC

North Shore 2008 - Kelly Slater With The Pipeline Masters and The ASP World Title


Sean Combs - St. Tropez

Fab Moretti Taking A Private Moment Backstage Before A Sold Out Strokes Performance

Win This Heat Or Go Home. Taylor Knox At The Pipeline Masters

Joel Parkinson Celebrates His Third Consecutive Triple Crown Win

Drew And Friends Celebrate Backstage After A Sold Out Strokes Performance - The Hollywood Bowl

Fans Line The Beach For The Pipe Masters Finals

Nineteen Thousand Fans - Mexico City

Kelly Slater With A Beach Escort - North Shore

Sean Combs With Paparazzi - Monaco Grand Prix

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March 16, 2011 0

Midnight Capers, Or Quit Peeing In My Eyes

By in Beach Access

Somebody has been wheat pasting photos on various construction sites around lower Manhattan. Although their identity can not be confirmed, judging from the photos below, it appears that said marauding individual bears a striking resemblance to me. In fact with the similar body frame, clothing style (and encroaching male pattern baldness), one might even be inclined to deduce that I am in fact the person responsible for these midnight capers. But since these locations overtly prohibit the posting of any bills, applying these posters would clearly be illegal. It’s truly a mystery.

Wooster and Grand St.

Grand St and Thompson St.

Who would do such a thing and why? Perhaps you could consider it guerilla urban beautification.

Take a walk down the streets of Manhattan and you will be bombarded with billboards and advertisements from every chain store, fragrance and athletic brand imaginable. If somebody was blaring offensive music 24 hours a day, even on private property, they would eventually be forced to stop. But control over your sense of sight is essentially open season for any entity with cash to spend on advertising space. Simply by using the public sidewalks, New Yorkers are involuntarily subjected to countless advertisements that collectively add up to quite an invasive experience. Think of it as sensory trespassing. Nobody authorized those images to enter your mind. You can’t simply forget and “unsee” something – if you don’t believe me, try googling “two girls, one cup” or “goatsee” immediately before your next meal.

One of my least favorite unavoidable billboards are the Kenneth Cole ads found on city buses. These ubiquitous ads each contain a short anecdote apparently intended to be witty and colloquial. Instead, they are inevitably either downright glib or contain no significant payoff whatsoever – imagine a barrage of New Yorker cartoons written by Jeff Foxworthy.

To coincide with their campaign, Kenneth Cole recently tweeted the follwing flippant remark during the political violence and anti-Mubarak protests in Egypt:

“Millions are in uproar in Cairo – Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online”

…Isn’t that cute. It used to be that proudly displaying a callused disregard for the disadvantaged and oppressed was the hallmark of conservative Republicans assholes, not metro-sexual douche bags. Horary for the progress, Kenneth Cole!

A close second-place in the running for ads that are equal parts lame and pervasive are the French Connection’s “FCUK” campaign. French Connection U.K …FCUK. Oh, I get it. You rascals are SO clever! You insinuated a dirty word. How gosh-darn subversive you are. Apparently French Connection’s target market is someone with the mindset of a 12 year-old who giggles at a tongue twister that makes you accidentally say something naughty (say “boo, bee” ten times fast…). Perhaps using the word fuck as the lynchpin of their marketing strategy wouldn’t be quite so moronic if their clothes weren’t designed to be worn by people who think that The Dave Mathews Band is edgy and irreverent.

So as an antidote to the endless clutter of crass commercialism on the streets of New York, one taxpayer decided to hijack some empty wall space with some images of their own. A grid of 24 surf photos were pasted in front of an American Eagle Outfitters store under construction on Broadway and Houston. The next morning, I was there to watch a burly foreman emerge from behind the locked barricade armed with a large black Sharpie. The worker then proceeded to meticulously cover up all logos and website info from the photos. Surprisingly though, he carefully left all of the actual images completely unscathed. A nearby street vendor asked him what he was doing and who he thought was responsible for putting up the photos.

A Foreman Erases All Evidence From The Mural's "Free Promotion"

I overheard him say, “I don’t know who he is, but I do know that American Eagle pays tens of thousands of dollars for the advertising space right across the street… Don’t get me wrong, he’s a hell of a photographer, but he’s not getting any free promotion on my construction site. He can put ‘em up, but nobody is going to know who he is if I can help it.”

The foreman exhibited an unexpected and bizarre reverence for the artwork while simultaneously possessing a keen awareness of the intrinsic value of the blank wall space seen by thousands of passersby.

Just a few days later, the surf photos were completely gone and the entire construction façade was disassembled. A sparkling-new American Eagle Outfitter retail store was there in its stead. So in case you aren’t in fact a white collegiate preppy on your way from the senior quad to a surf party at the beach, you can at least dress like you are with ease and convenience – inside the store you can purchase an ironic pre-distressed t-shirt with “SURF 1977″ screened on the front for $24.95.

How ironic indeed…

Grand St Mural - A Two Day Life Span

To Commemorate Their New Album - A Nine Panel Mural of Vintage Strokes Pics

Spring Street and Greene St. - A Two Week Life Span

A Friendly Souvenir Received In The Mail

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April 12, 2011 1

A Great Dane and Pink Buttons

By in Beach Access, Surfing

The following are excerpts from a profile on my surfing and hip-hop photography that will be appearing in the 2011 yearbook of European magazine Blue. Look for it in May ’11


There seems to be an unspoken belief by many that Dane represents the future of surfing. Despite this burden, he seems to be extremely humble and unaffected by having to carry this mantle. Kelly gets the screaming fans, but Dane is the quirky “surfer’s surfer” who maintains an element of mysteriousness and somehow still seems to be slightly below the radar of the general public. This picture was taken right before a very important heat at Pipe. An adorable 5-year- old-girl came up to Dane and started interviewing him with an imaginary microphone. Dane was so patient and attentive to her when his mind probably should have been on his upcoming heat. You can tell a lot about somebody by how they treat their fans. Definitely a class act.

Ventura's Finest Wrapped in Terry Cloth - Dane Reynolds


I was introduced to Buttons while I was shooting on the North Shore a few years ago. I was aware that he had had some issue with substance abuse and the law, but when I met him, he struck me as such a kind and genuine dude. He seemed to have his act cleaned up at the time, and he even confided to me how despite all of his missteps “…. I never did anything horrible or hurt anybody else, I only hurt myself.” We were shooting at his house, and then out of the blue he inexplicably went into his girlfriend’s closet and started trying on her clothes and wigs. I snapped this shot and I knew immediately that I had captured a classic moment. All I could think about at the time was the contrast between him dressed in drag, and the epic 1970s footage of him ripping on a twin fin at V-Land in Stylemasters. Later that day, I ended up singing karaoke with his girlfriend in the living room. It was a unique day to say the least.

Buttons - The 70's Stylemaster In Strange Apparel


I was in OZ shooting a job and we ended up having an extra hotel room. Jared happened to be in Sydney too, so I hooked him up with a free room at this fancy hotel. The hotel buffet was hands-down the best I’ve ever had in my life. Fresh juice bar, sushi, omelets and pastries. We ate the meal of our lives and then hit the spa in the basement with some lady friends that Jared had met. I had a girlfriend at the time, but I played wingman and did my best to make Jared look like a superstar. His double-page Insight ad was in magazines at the time and I made a point of casually making sure the girls saw it. I didn’t see Jared for the rest of the afternoon after we took this pic, so I assume things went well. He owes me one – I plan on hitting him up for some free malt liquor and an Ihop breakfast next time I’m in Newport.

The Superstylie Punk-Elvis Longboarder - Jared Mell


Immediately following the Pipeline finals, a band named Valiant Thor started playing their set at the house. Volcom owns two properties directly in front of Pipe. One of the houses is a tidy and beautifully-appointed three-story home where Bruce Irons, Dusty Payne and the executives stay…. this picture is not that house. This is the party house next door. Everything that you ever imagined that goes down at the fabled “Volcom House” happens here. When I took this shot, the atmosphere was so intense that it felt like at any moment somebody might either start a fist-fight or simply burst into flames. The waves directly in front of the house were firing and the sunset was beautiful. The party had drunk girls, testosterone-fueled dudes, bottomless beers, deafening heavy metal and a newly-crowned world champion. For one brief moment it felt like this place was the center of the universe.

This Ain't Hollister - The Volcom House

A TSA Flyer Doubles As A Valiant Thor Setlist

Volcom House - 4PM

World Champs Steph and Mick - The Baddest Surfers on The Planet That Afternoon


I shot this picture of Bay Area rapper Lil B without knowing much about him. His music actually kind of confused me. There wasn’t much actual rhyming going on and very little song structure. I couldn’t tell if he was simply a one-dimensional artist or if he was actually existing in the fourth dimension and I just didn’t get it. But the songs were infectious. I could totally understand the mindset of the kids that were into it. But if I had to defend and explain the music to my grandma, I think I would be at a loss of words. I like this photo because it really sums up the concept of fandom. Youth and fame have had this similar type of interaction for generations. In a different context, this picture could have easily been screaming girls trying to touch The Beatles.

Lil B Rocks The Highline Ballroom in NYC

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June 12, 2011 1

Don’t Just Bite It…

By in Uncategorized

Congrats to my man Glen E. Friedman.

California federal judge Dean Pregerson has ruled in Glen’s favor in a copyright infringement lawsuit against Thierry Guetta, AKA Mr. Brainwash. Featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary Exit Through The Giftshop, Guetta’s use and “appropriation” of Glen’s iconic Run DMC image prompted the legal action.

In his ruling, Judge Pregerson stated the following:

“To permit one artist the right to use without consequence the original creative and copyrighted work of another artist simply because that artist wished to create an alternative work would eviscerate any protection by the Copyright Act,” concludes Judge Pregerson. “Without such protection, artists would lack the ability to control the reproduction and public display of their work and, by extension, to justly benefit from their original creative work.”

Unlike Shepard Fairey, who was also involved in a seemingly similar type of lawsuit involving an AP press photo of Obama that later became the 2008 campaign poster, Guetta simply  leveraged the existing power and gravity of an already iconic image. The source photo involved in Fairey’s case was virtually indistinguishable from countless other generic snapshots of Obama. In Friedman v. Guetta however, Glen’s Run DMC photo was already one of the most recognizable images of the band and a classic hip-hop portrait. Guettas’s final product didn’t substantially rise to the creative burden of being “transformative” and therefore give him the right to call the work his own. Nor did his work involve any degree of recontextualisation. Fair use does not protect artists from being bereft of originality and simply biting other people’s creativity with no reverence, sense of humor or attribution.

The key differences between these two cases can be loosely compared to another set of cases from the world of music. It’s essentially the difference between De La Soul sampling a beat from a dusty and forgotten Turtles record from the 1960′s and then utilizing the sample to create an entirely new genre of hip hop, and to Vanilla Ice biting the classic and familiar Queen hit “Under Pressure” and trying to pull it off as his own creation.

Learn your history…

Respect your elders…

Find inspiration in art and make it your own.

Iconic Buttons Pic By Jeff Divine. - Late-Model Buttons Homage- 2010

Nick Nolte Portrait At The Malibu Police Dept. - Chippa Wilson Portrait At The Analog House, North Shore Hawaii

New York's Finest By Richard Avedon. - ATL's Finest - Big Boi and Andre 3000

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July 18, 2011 0

6.0 Hits the Target – Congrats to Carissa

By in Beach Access, Business, Surfing

Don’t let her warm smile and friendly demeanor fool you. Carissa Moore is a fierce competitor. Whether you’re male or female, don’t paddle out and underestimate her – you might get your feelings hurt.

Late last week, Carissa became the youngest female surfer… scratch that – the youngest surfer ever to win an ASP World Title. Kelly has 10 total, and Steph has 4 in a row. But Carissa isn’t even old enough to legally drink in Hawaii, yet she just snagged the coveted silver trophy and made surfing history.

Undoubtedly the suits in Minneapolis and Portland are celebrating this week. Say what you will about Target and Nike making power grabs for a piece of the surf industry – they certainly made the right call backing Carissa.

Congrats, young lady! Go celebrate. See you at Rocky Point in December.

Carissa Soaking In The Good Times During Pipe Finals 2010

Carissa Flashes Her Trademark Smile After A North Shore Session

A Prophetic Moment Last Winter. Carissa in the Lead Turns to See Who's Behind Her.

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September 8, 2011 1

We Should Start Seeing Other Hurricanes

By in Uncategorized
My Next Girl
Will Be Nothing Like My Ex Girl
That Was A Painful Dance
Now I Got A Second Chance….
“Next Girl” – The Black Keys

Welcome to NY. We had some serious issues with Hurricane Irene but we’re back in the saddle. We’re seeing Hurricane Katia now and she’s wonderful.

We’re thrilled to have the entire circus here. Nobody is more jaded than New Yorkers, but we just can’t hide our giddiness to see some world class surfing right here in our backyard.

In Hawaii, I’ve seen the entire tour basically disappear overnight once the final heat of Pipe is over. When you do it for a living, I guess being away from home and surfing is not necessarily a novelty like it is for us civilians. All of the hotels for the Quik Pro competitors have been booked for the entire 15 day window of the event, even though it looks like the comp will be over by Friday. Will everyone be flying out Saturday morning? Not this time around. I’ll bet you bucks to buzzards that come Sunday morning you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone that isn’t in need of a strong cup of coffee and a bloody mary to shake off the long weekend. Nobody is flying anywhere until at least the top of the week.

Enjoy yourself. Watch your wallets. And trust me, that Tag Heuer you bought on Canal Street for $50 will not appraise very well back at home.

We’re stoked you’re here!