Thursday, December 2, 2010

Snake vs Respect

Good friend and world class surf photographer, Jeff Flindt, came to visit with his wife Caroline last month before heading to Hawaii for the North Shore surf season. Jeff has put in some serious time in the water photographing the best of the best surfers in the world. For good reason... he's good at it.

I got to picking his brain about all the new young photographers that are now able to pick up a sick camera and water housing set up with the help of the bank, mama's check book and/or hard work. I asked what's it like in heavy line ups like Pipeline, Backdoor and other well-known spots. I was wondering if there was any 'localism and respect' things going on with the veteran water photographers and the new schoolers.

Before we get into his answer, I'd like to touch base on the whole respect thing and riding waves. It's really simple. Respect those that have put in the time at the spot or call that wave their home. Don't drop in, don't back paddle and don't call them off waves. Well, there's a point where you obey all the unwritten rules of the water and the locals still give you a hard time and you've had enough. That's a whole different topic. We'll come back to that in another blog post. Back on track... okay, so respect and know your role. In other words, if you're a beginner, stay in the beginner's zone. Don't go to the peak. Wait in line. We've all witnessed the newbies going straight to the peak and drop in on locals, fall on the take off and shoot their boards. Uh, not good. Respect.

Now, on that note. Flindty (what his old bodyboarding friends call him) told me a few stories about young newby water guys that would not respect the likes of Hank, Bielman and many other famous and respected water photographers and go for the best position in the water. Needless to say, a hail storm of bad words and angry looks hit the newby like a ten ton truck. Not knowing exactly what the he was doing, the newby paddled away. So there is a respect factor in water photography that is unseen by the majority of people on the planet. In hopes of finding a photo to demonstrate my point of view, I found at photo on that shows two photographers shooting a jackass surfer doing exactly what he's not supposed to be doing. (Side Note: Apparently, the surfer is a 'full-on local' and can drop in on anyone. I stand corrected. Read comments below.) Okay, back to the topic at hand... But you'll notice that angle of the photographers' line in relation to the wave and surfer. They're not directly in front of each other. This angle is the angle that all professional water surf photographers abide by to ensure the chances that the photographer in front will be out of the way and in the wave's face by the time the surfer reaches him/her. Yes, the photographer in the front will and should be the 'local' or 'respected' photographer. Jeff went on telling me a few more stories but they are reverted to the newby getting schooled in respect.

One last thing... surf photographers are sitting on thousands of images that most of the public will never see. The reason? Protecting local spots. The background in the photo below has be altered to help disguise the location of this spot. But it's such a great photo, I had to share. Shit, maybe I should take my name off it, eh?

Kook surfer drops in showing ignorance. Apparently, the surfer is a 'full-on local'. Oops. Sorry dude. Water photographers showing respect.

Wave perfect. Location... planet Earth.


  1. Sweet article Manny! I love the "insider's perspective" thanks for that.

  2. Great post Manny! Definitely an informative piece that made me think more about etiquette out there! Thanks!

  3. that "jackass" surfer is a full-on local at that spot. He can cut off any sponger he wants out there

  4. Anonymous... a few things brotha or sista? Not sure, you didn't leave your name. Okay, here it is:

    1. Thank you for reading my blog. I get amped when I get comments. Even if it's from someone that doesn't leave their name and critiques my facts. I love it. Terima kasih.

    2. I stand corrected. There are always a few guys at each spot that have 'earned' the right to cut off, not only 'spongers', but anyone for that matter. If this unjustly tagged surfer is your friend and is a full-on local at this spot, the correct response should have been, "He can cut off ANYONE..." not just spongers, right? Because if he's only cutting off bodyboarders, than that's a whole different issue.

    3. If you see this surfer, give him my apologies. I will make the correction in my story just in case I see him in the water :)

    Thanks again for reading my blog. Hope to see more comments from you.

    Good vibes.