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Essential: Justin Jay on the North Shore

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

You want to see what happens when one of the best shooters in the world goes to the North Shore? Photos so fresh!

New York City’s Justin Jay is a photographer who takes his work extremely seriously.  Every year when he flies to the North Shore to independently cover the contest season, he carries a box of prints in his backpack to give to surfers he’s previously shot.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” says the 41 year old from the Lower East Side, who has previously shot Jay Z, Outkast and P Diddy. “A picture does take a little bit of your soul in a sense, it’s why famous people wear sunglasses all the time. So if you take someone’s photo, you need to give something back, you have to make sure they get a print. Everyone has a fucking iPhone and no one has any physical prints any more. When you give someone a print from a year ago, they feel amazing.”

Justin’s game is simple enough.

“Whether I’m shooting Diddy or Jay-Z or Kelly or Joel I put myself in the eyes of a 13-year-old fan,” he says. “What would they like to see? There’s plenty of photos of Dane and Kelly ripping, but that’s not my game. I want to see the surfers before and after they surf, getting in fist fights, partying, eating breakfast.”

Justin says his game works ’cause he’s an outsider, because hasn’t been in the industry for so long that his eyes cloud over the minutiae of this awesome multi-generational gathering of the world’s best surfers.

The photos that are follow are from Justin’s sixth trip to the North Shore, most are only a few days old, where he is shooting for a photo book called Beach Access, although he ain’t in no hurry to get the thing on the press.

As he says, “my style of stuff lends itself to ageing. These are historical shots, rather than standard portraits. Plus, going back each year is like going to summer camp or winter camp, in this case, all the same faces, this great fraternity.”

See more of Justin Jay’s work here (Click!) and follow him on IG at @justinjayphoto

John John and Alex Florence 2014 Surfer Poll

In most award shows, the main focus is the announcement of the final award. At Surfer Poll however, there were two surfers who so unequivocally occupied the top two places that the unveiling of the number two spot became a de-facto crowning of the winner as well. All eyes were on John John. Number two was finally revealed and it was Kelly. A new King was crowned. Not a single person in the room could muster a justification to argue against this year’s winner. Well deserved. A class act. Period.

mick fanning and occy surfer poll 2014

Mark Occhilupo presented several awards at Surfer Poll in front of a crowd of his fans and peers. Mick Fanning was certainly more at ease receiving an award than a visibly nervous Occy was at being on stage and handing them out.

Lyndie and Axel Irons

Lyndie Irons embodies all of the glamour, allure and tragedy of the Andy Irons legacy. She is essentially the Jackie Kennedy of surfing. Stunningly beautiful. Graceful and radiant. She’s also the widow of a larger than life figure and mother to the Irons successor. Watching Axel playfully run around backstage, I couldn’t help but think about all of the opportunity, the baggage, the love and the extraordinary genes that he must posses.

Michael Ho anxiously watches Mason Ho’s Pipe Masters trial heat from the porch of a nearby Pipe patio.

Proud father and Pipeline elder statesman Michael Ho anxiously watches Mason Ho’s Pipe Masters trial heat from the porch of a nearby Pipe patio. Mason made it to the semi’s, just missing out on a spot in the main event.

Mick Fanning and Taylor Knox

The current world champ jokes around with close mate and master of the rail Taylor Knox at the Rip Curl House.

Jack Robinson, Reef House, Oahu

Jack Robinson, just two weeks off turning 17, dropped by the Reef house unexpectedly. This permanently stoked grom was on his way to surf Jaws for the first time the following morning. With casual excitement, he asked Billy Kemper if he could borrow a board. His demeanor was similar to one neighbour asking another neighbor if they could borrow a cup of sugar for a cake that they were baking. Except in this case, the proverbial cake is one of the meanest waves on the planet and it could easily end his life.