You ain't real good? It don't matter!
I’ll be the first to admit I ain’t the surfer I usually think I am. On a little runner, with easy-to-read shoulders, you might think, yeah, there’s something there.
But there ain’t.
Started too late, found solace in being too cool to try when I was on the cusp of being okay, didn’t join a boardriders club at an early-enough age, and the result is a sad lil man standing on a very crowded wharf, the ship of good style and instinctive surfing long sailed.
One thing I do know, and this is something I learned from staring at thousands of photos as a magazine editor, is that you can fake a good surf shot.
Never had a good surf photo of yourself surfing?
Let me show you how.
Spastic isn’t a dirty word. On one hand, I’m glad we washed our hands of this epithet for anyone with cerebral palsy. How many kids did we torture with it at school? On the other hand, you’re not going to get a good surf shot if you think style means barely moving on a wave. The surf photos that work are the result of aggression and bold directional changes. Get spastic! Get your ass low to your board, coil up, throw your arms in the turn, scream if you have to. I know a guy who might be, and this is an extremely competitive division yes, the ugliest surfer in the world. I think he’s Swiss, maybe. Beautiful man, body like an Olympian. But the way he bounces on his board and throws himself at the lip makes for… photos. I watch him surf, spellbound sometimes, snapping the shots in my head, knowing, he could take some of these home and be on the cover of a magazine.
You’re not in the pocket and you’re nowhere near the lip. What a sad thing it is to see video of yourself on a wave for the first time. All those times you ragged on Alejo Muniz for not surfing critical enough? Oh god, look at this: you’re three pumps out on the face before you even started looking upward at the lip. Here’s the thing. If you think you should be stalling for the tube, that’s where you need to be doing your turns.
Airs go toward the beach not off the back. Running down the line and throwing yourself off the back of the wave won’t look like an air however fast your photographer hits the shutter button. If you want a flying kick-out shot to show your pals in Cleveland , sure, keep doing what you’re doing. If you want something approximating an air that’ll fool your pals at the beach, huck it towards the sand.
Think, one turn only: you’re not being scored on the wave, only the photo. Waste the entire wave if you have to. Murder five sections. Gather your speed and deliver.
Go retro-fab: Soul arches are the easiest damn thing in the world. Throw your back out, hands by your side, and collect your very 2009 photo at the door.