Without Mike Moir, the Echo Beach era may never have even happened.
Mike Moir is gone.
We lost a good one.
If you haven’t heard, legendary Southern California-based surf photographer Mike Moir has passed on. Apparently Mike had been struggling with some health issues of late, but this still came as a surprise to the local surf community.
Before anything, Moir was a surfer.
He grew up surfing during the longboard era of the late fifties and early sixties before starting to mess around with a camera pointed seaward, primarily in and around the Huntington/Newport wave zones.
Moir’s understanding of surfing made for an easy jump to surf photographer and he was soon being published regularly, primarily in Surfer Magazine where he later became one of the publications hardest working “Staff” photographers.
By the time the mid 1970’s rolled around Mike Moir was conveniently positioned in Orange County just as things began to dramatically change in surfing.
From the HB pier, down through Newport and even occasionally posting up at Salt Creek, Moir began to take notice of these changes and sensed the obvious movement at hand.
The black wetsuit/white surfboard hangover was giving way to bright colors, shorter boards and different lines, some of which would eventually grow into what became known as Echo Beach, which was not only an actual physical location (54th street, Newport Beach) but also a bona fide cultural influence that reached well beyond Southern California.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say without Mike Moir, none of that may have even happened.
Mike Moir was old school in the sense that much of his best work came during a period of time when photographers were hand winding and hand focusing within the every limiting confines of 24 or 36 exposure rolls of Kodak.
Digital was a long way away so every click was money ether coming in or going out and Mike was one of the best at maximizing his time and effort. It’s easy to assume that when one of Mike envelopes showed up his photo editors knew that they had some very usable photos included.
More recently, Mike Moir had discovered social media and to the delight of most of us he regularly posted some familiar work but also many of the b-roll stuff that may not have made the cut. Which usually including some unseen gems.
Up until just a few weeks ago, Mike Moir could still be seen at local events with a camera around his neck. From an Alex Knost art show to a book signing to a HB Walk of Fame presentation, he was omnipresent.
Unfortunately, the platforms which at one time supported him are no longer around to publish his work as print surf media disappeared a few years ago. Mike Moir didn’t care he just loved pointing his camera at something he saw as compelling.
Which really brings to light the very real compassion Mike Moir had for his craft.
Up until the day he left us, he did it for the love of the art, not the money.
You will be missed Mike Moir, especially by a bunch of young groms from Newport, but your impact on surf culture will never be forgotten.
Safe travels Mike Moir.