An Evening Of Images Up And Down The Garden State

“These four f—king guys!” Imagine that in the heaviest New Jersey accent you can. Now imagine the best fall and wintertime kegging barrel shots you’ve seen come out of New Jersey and you’ve got the basic premise for “Singlefins, Boardwalks, and Storytalks II”, which Black Sails (aka Jon Coen) successfully produced once again this year.

Donald Cresitello, Bruce Chrisner, Dick ‘Mez’ Meseroll (Photo Editor Emeritus at ESM), and TW SURF’s very own Seth Stafford are the four guys who showcased and narrated slideshows of their incredibly deep portfolios this past Friday evening at the Tuckerton Seaport under the weight of intense humidity, Intercourse beers, and Mud City’s delicious local seafood. And yes, it was damn hot out, despite being on the water and seeing tons of snowy images.

The Garden State’s finest assembled from both north and south on the Parkway to the central locale of this classic event. There were no scripts and no Word documents for the stories behind every single photo. But no detail was left untold from each photographer—remembrance of spots, surfers, days, even temperatures are all things great photographers attach internally to each image they’ve ever shot. Hoots, laughs, inside jokes, and general good times emanated from the crowd throughout the evening as images stitched rich surfing history with modern times and back again.

Donald Cresitello’s photos are a mix of his tutelage under Mez at ESM and his years spent up and down the Eastern Seaboard. Mez himself is a legend in the full sense of the word. He lights up any and every room he enters and has been instrumental in the foundations and progression of East Coast surf photography. Bruce Chrisner grew up around Mez and the two fed off each other a bit in the 80s. Despite being an incredibly talented photographer, Bruce also has been a Northeast Sales Rep for major companies for years. And of course Seth Stafford needs no explaining to our readers. The man is one of the best water photographers in the biz, and never shies away from his 6/5/4 and water housing in the dead of winter.

The typical clichés about New Jersey you’ve all heard before: it can be horribly flat (especially right about now), we’re loud and obnoxious, it’s dreadfully cold during the best months of waves, we love fist pumping, “The Jersey Shore”, etc., etc. But there’s an innate dedication and bluecollar-ness to every one of these men that doesn’t always get told in their images—and it’s a hardworking mentality that seeped from the evening.

We haven’t had a real wave in weeks, maybe even months, yet you could not tell that from the overall amiability in the humid evening air. Because every one of us knew as we enjoyed the photos of days past and present that fall is soon approaching. And with fall a changing of the seasons better suited for waves, and opportunities for these four men to do what they do best. As the legendary Mez says, “I could and would make a case that New Jersey photographers have easily produced a more visually impactful portfolio of homegrown surfing imagery than even Florida over the course of the past decade, especially in winter water photography. Simply put, Jersey lensmen have been surf photography innovators.”

And for all of you who were wondering, no, Snooki was not there.—Ryan Brower

Ben Graeff standing tall behind the curtain. Photo: Stafford

Ben Graeff standing tall behind the curtain. Photo: Stafford