Top surf photog revealed as notorious anonymous troll?
As was revealed, here and here, the American photo-journalist Steve Sherman was recently engaged in an Instagram shakedown with the LA photographer Mike Balzer.
The essence of the story is this: In 1992 Steve Sherman was employed to photograph the surfers in Taylor Steele’s movie Focus for the video’s cover. The photo, which features Kelly Slater, Ross Williams (yes! Now the best commentator in the world!), Kalani Robb and co, wasn’t used as the cover; that honour went to a surf shot by Mike Balzer.
Lately, Sherman has been posting his older shots on IG with a brief anecdote behind each photo. “I shot this for @taylorsteele in 1992, for the cover of his video Focus… I was blown away how they all showed up right on time and gave their all,” said Steve Sherman.
Balzer, from gorgeous Manhattan Beach right there in Los Angeles, pounced: “Fraud: An act of deceiving or misrepresenting … Someone needs to tell the truth hear. What other make believe stories will go on his gallery? Bullshit!”
The story gets better. The pair used to work together at Transworld Surf: Steve as the photo editor, Mike as a syndicated photographer.
“I liked working with Mike. I really liked his work,” says Sherm.
But, as happens in biz, a conflict arose and Transworld and Balzer split.
And, then, years later, as Surfing magazine began posting Sherman’s classic behind-the-scenes contest images online, a mysterious troll, Kaipo Gomes, began a relentless campaign against Sherman. Whenever a Sherman photo appeared, so did Kaipo Gomes.
Apart from coining the classic nickname “Sherwank” the commentary alluded to Sherm’s lack of ability, with camera, and his possible sexual urges towards pro surfers.
Here’s a couple:
Further proof that Sherwank is just a paparazzi, lurking groupie photog. All this for just one old photo? Really……?! Sherwank comes off as the kid that snuck into the party he wasn’t invited to and rattles off lines written by someone else. “Parko’s style is so effortless I think the Judges underscore him all the time”. As if he is the barometer for anything related to Judging the World’s best surfers. Still amazed that he gets gigs to just shoot the trivial bulllshit in the VIP area. Remember that surfing is done in the water and on waves. The history of surfing is remembered with photos of surfers on waves. Thank the world for shooters like Tom Carey and Glaser that shoot surfers on waves as their stock in trade. TMZ called and they want Sherwank to cover the Kardashians. Right up his alley.
For all you lovers of all things Sherm you don’t think this is a little creepy? This is ONE photo of Kelly in a bed. That’s it. Not a huge turn or tube or air but just Kelly in a bed. For Sherm to get sooooo excited about this photo is pathetic. Again History of Surfing in made in the water. Actually surfing. Cordoso beat Kelly and that is history that happened in the water. That didn’t happen in the VIP area or worse in Shermwank’s bed. Flat out creepy!
Thank you, DoucheBag, someone that sees Sherwank for what he is. The VIP area, roaming, lurking, creeping paparazzi photog that he is. His photos are not anywhere near the talent of Brewer, Hornbaker but more simple point and shoot simpleton stuff. Almost anyone can get the shots he does. What they can’t get is the VIP pass to enter that area. Is Sherwank a bodyboarder? He must be as that would figure. Most of the printed photogs these days are spongers. Go the tummy twirl Sherwank.
“critical”: exercising or involving careful judgement or judicious evaluation.
“criticism”: the art of evaluating or analyzing with knowledge.
Why do you focus solely on the “negative” aspect of this? Are you not reading any of this? I will apologize to your son as I don’t want to bum a young, impressionable kid out. But……………………………let me ask you, Steve, how do you choose the photo you present here? Do you exercise judgement or judicious evaluation over others? Sure you do. Every person has an opinion but very few will actually voice their opinion or in my case type my opinion. I feel it’s lame that you solely shoot “mainly” in the VIP area of elite surf contests. You get a VIP pass to that area that other shooters cannot get. Therefore you have a HUGE advantage over them. They can’t even get near those subjects to shoot to even compete with your shots. Some of the shots you get are good for what they are but they are not surfing on waves in the water. Do you get that? You really are a one-trick-pony that sets your digital camera on black & white and basically fires away. What’s so hard about that? Compare that to the guy swimming his ass off in the water. Or the guy getting slammed by the crowd on the beach. Or the guy trying to get a different angle down the beach. Come on you even have to get this. Ask yourself is the shot of Andy really great? I think not. And I think you would agree. Your shot of Andy behind the Presidential podium is getting there because of the concept and what he is wearing. Show that and tell that story. Glad you have an open mind to discuss. Don’t take this as negative but as a kick in the ass to push you to do better. Why not?
Jason Miller was the online editor at Surfing at the time and recalls, if vaguely, checking the IP address of Kaipo Gomes and, lo!, it was coming straight out of Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles. Not absolute proof, sure, but it sure narrowed the field.
“It was a weird time,” says Miller, who was the muscle behind shifting the entire website to a new platform. “We wanted to open the floodgates so people could express their opinion. We didn’t want to censor people. And Sherm became the target.”
But, as in all open societies, as much as trolls want to troll; others will be there to defend the defenceless.
Here’s a sample.
i consider my self a regular at ING but not a regular commenter… the only thing I notice about these Sherm photos is Kaipo Gomes constantly bashing the guy..like on almost every photo. Did Sherm root your wife? whats the deal its just a picture. Yeah sherm seems to have an ego, everybody with 2 eyes can see that, you don’t have tell us every time. sheesh
Mike Balzer, meanwhile, who initiated the latest feud with Sherman, and who emailed me “further proof” of the validity of his claims wrote: “As with all things like this the Editor, YOU, have the last word and can make a person out to be a jackass. I hope you can see that my attempt here is to suss out Sherman and make him tell the truth and not bullshit at the cost of his integrity to sell some T-shirts.”
When I asked (ever so gently) about his alter-ego Kaipo Gomes the shutters came down. Emails went unanswered. Phone calls rung out.
And, today, the conciliatory message:
After some thinking on this I realize I made a mistake in how aggressive I got. I’d rather just let it be.