“Surfing is such an amazing concept. You’re taking on Nature with a little stick and saying, ‘I’m gonna ride you!’ And a lot of times Nature says, ‘No you’re not!’ and crashes you to the bottom.” – Jolene Blalock
Surfing is a much loved sport and pass-time for many people. It gives the people who practice it a sense of togetherness with nature, and it also helps them focus on the things that matter most to them. It is also, pure and simply, a really fun thing to do.
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First observed in the late 18th century by European explorers in Polynesia, surfing was and still is an important part of native cultures. Tribe leaders were usually the most skilled surfers, and their boards were made from the best trees.
In Hawaiian culture, the priests would hold religious ceremonies for surfers, asking the gods for good waves to ride. They would also aid the surfers in constructing the surf board, seeing as the act of building one was considered sacred.
In the early 20th century, surfing was brought to North America by Henry Huntington, who asked George Freeth, now known as “the Father of Modern Surfing”, to give demonstrations at Redondo Beach, which he -Huntington- owned. He did this after seeing Hawaiian boys practice the sport, and thinking it could bring visitors to his property.
After the success of the Redondo Beach demonstration, Freeth began a Californian coast tour. This, in turn, lead to East Coast demonstrations done by James Matthias Jordan, Jr. in 1912, and Australian demonstration by Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku in 1915.
With the release of the movie Gidget in the 1960’s, surfing transformed into a national fad, which had it’s own culture revolving around it, inspiring surf music and film, and paving the way for competitive surfing in the 90’s.
Now that we’ve got you familiarized with the basic history of surfing, we can start talking about the aesthetics of surfing, and maybe give you a bit of design inspiration along the way.
One area that was particularly influenced by surfing is photography. Photos from “Inside the Wave” are perhaps a bit cliché, but they are nonetheless stunning, especially once you start thinking about how difficult they are to make.
Thanks to modern technology, they’re no longer quite as technically difficult to take, but they still are physically challenging, so you know that whoever is taking them has to have a real passion for surfing.
In this article, we’ll be showing you some stunning photographs from two amazing artists, namely Clark Little and Robbie Crawford, both born in California, both head over heels in love with this unique aquatic sport.
First we’ll be taking a look at Robbie Crawford, the lesser known of the two, but definitely a rising star in the world of surf photography.
Robbie‘s day job is working in multimedia. He does it all, from graphic art, to motion graphics, to web design and development.
He uses a GoPro, which he started using once he got into board surfing. His set up consists of a two to three foot pole made by Stickgrips, and a double housing with two cameras, which allows him to take photos and film in the same time.
Among the names he lists as inspirations are Ron Romanovsky, Don King, Matt Clark and the other artist we’ll be presenting to you in our article, Clark Little.
In an interview for The Roosvelts, Robbie gives us a few fantastic tips for shooting good quality photos using the GoPro:
- Lighting: “You get a sunset or sunrise with some high clouds illuminating the sky with vibrant colors and the shot’s going to be beautiful.”
- Wave quality: “The more hallow the better… then throw in some backwash or mutation and it’s going to make for an interesting shot.”
- Water quality: “The cleaner and clearer the better… brown water just isn’t that interesting unless you have a subject doing something spectacular… so if the water’s ugly make sure you’re shooting someone who rips.”
- No water spots: “The secret is to lick it and dip it… and make sure there’s no sand on the port… any sand is a guaranteed water spot because water spots aren’t spots… they’re actually caused by the sheet of water on the surface of the port separating… saliva helps to keep that in tact… and sand is the worst.”
- Basic photo editing skills: “The key is not to overdo it… a lot of people want to push the colors so much that it doesn’t even look real anymore. The goal is to get the shot to look as close to what it actually looked like with your eye as possible.”
Now to show you the totally bodacious results the artist gets from applying the aforementioned tips.
Next up we have Clark Little, one of, if not the most famous surf photographer around.
Although born in Napa, California in 1968, Clark has been living in Hawaii since he was only two years old, moving to Haleiwa in 1970.
Throughout the 80’s and 90’s he established himself as a pioneering surfer, taking off on shorebreak waves, and successfully riding them.
Since 2007 he has been taking beautiful surf photographs, in what has become known as “Clark’s View”, a unique and dangerous perspective from inside the waves, that has gotten him worldwide acclaim, and assured him a 2nd career as a photographer.
His works have been exhibited at such prestigious institutions as the Smithsonian Museum, the Parco Logos Gallery, the Four-Seasons and Ritz Carlton resorts, and the Science Museum of Virginia, as well as published in magazines like National Geographic, New York Times, LIFE Magazine, and Paris Match.
His fame brought him commercial opportunities too, his photographs being commissioned by the likes of Nike, Verizon, Hewlett-Packard, and Apple.
2009 saw the release of his debut art book, The Shorebreak Art of Clark Little, an 182-page showcase of 100 of his best photographs, and the stories behind them.
Let’s give you a sample of why Clark Little is such a renowned surf photographer.
It was a real pleasure for us to look for these pictures, and we hope it was at least as much of a pleasure for you to loot at them.
That concludes our article on “Inside the Wave” photography. Be sure to let us know what you think of the article, and which photos are your favorites, in the comment section below.