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Arctic Swell – Surfing the Ends of the Earth

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Aww, hands are so cold! Cold out there? It’s freezing! But absolutely pumping when the right one comes in. It’s flawless with the offshore waves – offshore snow, I should say. Some of these places I go, they feel like a photographic purgatory. It just feels foreign. It’s like, you know, walking on the moon or something like that. You know, when people think of surfing, the last thing people consider is, you know, surfing in the Arctic. The contrast of going to these harsh remote environments, and having surfing be your means of exploration thats, it doesn’t get any better than that. I feel almost driven to document the Arctic, and in a lot of ways, Arctic Surfing.

Photography for me was a release. I wanted to immerse myself in the beauty of what I was seeing with my own eyes. And I felt like it became this kind of symbiotic relationship that really was the perfect medium of expression for me. As soon as I got a camera I realized this could be my vehicle to go experience the world. I love to travel. You know like I’m a I’m a cold water fanatic; that’s why I go to these cold harsh environments. The clouds. The moodiness. The Northern Lights. It truly is beautiful and epic and the surreal landscapes that come out of this North Atlantic Sea has really drawn me in. This morning we had to shovel out the car for about an hour before we could even get out of the driveway. And we had about five to six feet of like snow drift last night. It’s just packed beyond belief.

Being from Southern California, it’s the complete opposite of what I’m used to. It’s just a different kind of beauty. It’s real raw and just getting to see this side of God’s creation is super rad. It truly is beautiful and epic and mystical all while being some of the most harsh conditions I’ve ever seen. I have such a respect for the guys that get out there in the water. They really have the tough end of the deal. I kind of feel like I’m going to war or something, like I got my combat suit on. You know you’re putting on five to seven millimeters of rubber. And then you’re hopping in water that’s thirty-five to forty-five, forty-six degrees. It doesn’t really get much better for travelling to cold destinations. Surfing between these giant cliffs and good waves. It’s the raddest thing ever. When you’re first paddling out it’s kind of a shock, and then within two minutes you start to feel your core temp drop. And then you make one little turn the wrong way and your wet suit gets flooded and it feels electrifying. The ocean for years has been considered by a lot of the locals in these places as such a dangerous scary place and you see, you know, these professionals working in such an amazing way.

Riding the storm surf with crazy undertows and huge currents and winds from some of the roughest seas in the the world. But it all kind of comes together in this beautiful way when, when those storms do subside and there’s these glimpses in between these harsh moments where you get perfection. It humbles you and makes you realize how at the mercy of the ocean and the elements we are. I know the surfers are out in the water suffering just as much as I am, if not way more, so I feel like you have this extremely heavy task on your shoulders of making sure that you document what’s going on accurately and appropriately and doing them justice, because you’re only going to get so many moments. Today is looking like a perfect day to get in the water so I’m going to jump in and see what I get. It’s just a matter of trying to get everything warm before you go in.

You know when you want to get these images, when you want to get these moments, you have to be out in the elements really experiencing it. And for me you know like I, I love to suffer. The idea of having cold fingers and you know brittle skin and chapped lips and you know really putting yourself out there in the elements. I guess that’s when you feel like you’re really paying the price, but the greatest rewards come. Real deal right now, Dude. this stuff’s so slick. I can’t see! I think the surf community is a passionate bunch. I mean it’s just such a beautiful way to interact and to share experience with people. And I think that that experience is what draws you all closer. It makes you feel like you’re part of a group. We all want to see what’s out there you know. We all want to push past that next headline and see if there’s a better wave on the other side.

And I think that that experience is what draws you all closer. That community, I feel like that’s, it’s like family. I think as photographers our goal, or at least my goal, is always to inspire people and if you’re not sharing your work then what are you doing – I just want to stoke people passions for adventure, and getting out there. And I want people to drift away when they look at my images you know, I want them to feel like it’s taken them so far from where they are at that moment that they’re immersed in the feeling. I think that the adventure that comes from going to these places where – you know you could easily go there and never get a rideable wave but what you do get when you get that? It’s like the reward of you know, bagging a new summit or like climbing the top of like some unnamed peak. It’s just, I don’t know, there’s a surreal victory that comes from that.

And I feel like those are the ones that mean the most to me. Maybe not even the most beautiful images, but the ones where you come back and you’re like, wow, I really gave something of myself to get that shot. I think that that’s the beauty of going to those places; is learning new things about yourself every time you take a photograph. .

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