Steve Sherman vs. Jack English: A photographic duel fought on the beaches of Southern France.

Steve Sherman and Jack English were sent independently to Southern France in early October and told to go about their business as usual—their business being documenting the World Tour’s invasion of Hossegor, Biarritz, and the surrounding areas.

What they didn’t know is that their respective images would be used as ammunition against one another, in a photographic duel of sorts.

Steve Sherman is known primarily for his ability to get the top surfers in the world feeling comfortable and free of inhibitions. His artistic eye, tendency toward experimentation, and black-and-white portrait prowess have made him a sought-after photographer in all realms of the surf, skate, and music worlds. Lately, Steve has added action skills to his repertoire and will no doubt be using his heavy connections to photograph the world’s best surfers.

Jack English has a strong work ethic beyond any magazine editor’s expectations. Jack is up before dawn every day, out past two every night, and he always has a camera in his hand. He’s probably seen more sunrises than most any human on the planet. Jack has been at the epicenter of high-action photography for years and always holds the trigger down to produce amazing sequences. While the Top 44 indulge in the frivolities of the Tour’s nightlife, Jack can be found right beside them documenting their antics and sharing in the debauchery as well.

The following is the first in a series of photographer versus photographer duels.

 

Quotes by Steve Sherman

[IMAGE 1]

Shot One: “This is Rochelle Ballard—the social queen of Hossegor at the moment. She was having a good time. Every time I saw her she was living life to its fullest—French style. Rochelle was also tending bar a lot at the Sandbar, which is the new social epicenter of Hossegor across from Rockfood. Every night she’d be there having the time of her life. She seemed very stoked. All the girls were going mental, but she seemed to be having the most fun out of everyone—she was on eleven.”

Shot Two: “This is Troy Brooks on a super-early morning in Hossegor. One day, it finally picked up and was offshore all at once on this super-shallow sandbar at Graviere. Troy was ripping—pulling in right and left. It was super shallow and boards were breaking everywhere. Troy got this perfect left barrel. He’s a really good surfer—ripping every morning. This is probably the best day I saw the whole time I was there. The wave at Hossegor reminds me a little of Pipeline or Off The Wall. It breaks so close to the shore, you can see the expression on their (surfers’) faces when they pull in. This day it was kind of unmakeable, but the ones you got were super deep. This was one of the better ones. No-handed backside barrel ride—I love it.”

Shot Three: “This is my bro Pat-O. We got to France early, before anyone had gotten there, and we stayed right above Rockfood in an apartment—which is like being at ground zero as far as crazy parties go. Every morning at 3:00 a.m. we’d hear drunk Frenchmen and Australians dancing and screaming their way up the street. This is one afternoon when it blew offshore all day. It was backlit, glistening Hossegor perfection, and Pat was punting. Pat’s not known for doing airs—but he was blowing minds, doing big double grabs just like Taj. It gets dark really late there, so the light goes ’til 9:30. This was right at sunset, probably about quarter ’til nine.”

Shot Four: “Pat-O slash at Down The Way at Le Nord on another offshore, perfect day. Pat put a little rubber on just to stay warm. The water was 72, but the wind’s blowing so hard you get chilled. This is a perfect little sand point. Everyone congregated on this one little sandbar. All the waves in Hossegor tend to break pretty close to the beach, and the sandbars are constantly changing. You always have to keep your eye on it. One day there will be a sandbar here, then the sand will move down the beacho the next place. That’s why they keep the contests mobile.”

Shot Five: “My favorite surfer, Occy, surfing during an offshore morning one day when it sort of came up big, breaking right on the sand—super bone-crunching. Occ paddles out, pulls into this perfect pit, drives for like six or seven seconds, and then gets spit out at the end. It seemed like he was really stoked. He had his family there—his wife Mai and his baby Jay. He had Jay’s name written on the bottom of his board, so I think he was surfing for his little man. He just had a big gleaming smile on his face every time I saw him. He seemed like he was in the father mode, cruising everywhere with Jay and Mai, not partying much. That’s a good way to keep your stress down and your head focused. There’s no stress of wondering what’s going on at home when your family’s there with you.”

[IMAGE 2]

Shot Six: “Just another beautiful French woman walking down the beach. I think the women in France are the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen in the whole world. The gene pool there … I don’t know why, but they’re all just super beautiful—natural skin, very little makeup. The French men age really badly, but the French women age really gracefully. You see a lot of beautiful women in their forties. I don’t know how they do it, but they don’t gain weight and their skin’s super tight and beautiful, just like this girl.”

Shot Seven: “This shot’s of Lisa Andersen. I’ve shot a lot of photos of Lisa in the past. We’re good friends, so she really trusts me. I’m doing a series of her, and I kind of want to step it up one more by doing some tasteful and beautiful portraits. She’s had two kids, and she looks absolutely phenomenal. I told her I had this idea for a photo, and she just kind of giggled and goes, ‘Okay, I’ll do it. But it’s gonna take a little wine.’ Seems like every time we do the shots of Lisa, there’s red wine involved—that seems to be the kind of feel-good portrait drug. We started a fire and had a couple glasses of wine. Rochelle Ballard was the stylist.”

Shot Eight: “This is an empty wave peeling at Le Nord right in front of Rockfood. Early morning in France is 8:30. The first light usually hits it around quarter ’til nine, so this is before the light even hit it. It was just a perfect offshore morning with a little ice-cream stand in the foreground—very French. The air is in the fifties and the water’s like 72. It’s cold, brisk wind, but the water was abnormally warm. It’s unbelievable to have these kind of conditions with warm water. When the wind blows onshore for a couple of days, you get the tar balls. It would come in from the deep from the tanker that sank, so it was good when it blew offshore for a couple days, because it would blow all the oil out to sea. Everyone’s wetsuits were covered with tar balls. Their boards were all brown and gooey. It’s definitely sobering to see such a beautiful place stained by a man-made disaster.”

Shot Nine: “Pat at Biarritz on a Saturday afternoon. Everyone’s out shopping. There’s a little flea market right next to the café. The French love to walk around and shop all day. It’s a very French day—Pat having a little beverage and a couple mussels. Pat laughs at everything—he’s laughing at life.”

Shot Ten: “This is Shea Lopez at Capbreton during the air show. It was puntable, so all the guys went out. They were blowing up. Shea threw a couple of big airs, and his brother Cory threw a really big one at the end and advanced to the finals. In the background, you see the World War II bunkers that the Nazis occupied to protect the beaches there. I found out from a guy that the bunkers there had huge fourteen-inch guns on them. They were there to protect the Capbreton and Biarritz harbors from the Allies. If you go, you have to check the bunkers out. It’s like history right in front of you. It’s really eerie.”

Shot Eleven: “This is a shot of Taylor Knox in our little apartment. Knoxy was in a super-good mood in France. He’s got a lot of stuff in his personal life past him. I’ve never seen him as happy as he is right now. He’s surfing the contests well, making good decisions, and he’s on a roll competitively. He’s far from being a bonehead or a Knoxymoron. I’m super stoked on Taylor right now.”

[IMAGE 3]

Sherm on Jack: “Mad Jack was the man. He’s a team player, a true photo warrior, and always on it. Jack’s really come a long way as a photojournalist. I love the way he shoots. He tends to shoot farther back sometimes, to show the foreground and what’s going on—beautiful faraway shots where you could see the whole beach. I was inspired watching Jack, just the way he networks. We’d always end up in the same place, but we had different ways of getting there. Jack was killing it.”

 

Quotes by Jack English

Shot One: “I was in the parking lot, and I met with Art Brewer. One of his assistants was saying that Kelly was going to paddle out. It was kind of small but sunny and clear as a bell. I got my fish-eye out of my car, swam out there, and waited for Slater. I waited out in the water for an hour, and of course he did a no-show. So I saw Megan Abubo out there and tried to work with her for about a half hour. After a while I gave up on that and gradually went down the beach. When I was paddling down I saw Cory (Lopez) on the beach getting ready to paddle out. I was pretty stoked on that, knowing that Cory is easy to work with in the water. He’s probably one of the most photogenic guys on the Tour. Cory’s really good because he gets off the lip. I shot this from a Boogie board, and I’m shooting from behind the wave. So Cory paddled out and the first five or six waves in a row we just connected on every one.”

[IMAGE 4]

Shot Two: “This was obviously after Andy won the competition. He was on stage, and Nat Young was right next to him. Everyone was ready to throw the beers on Andy. Nat just looked at Andy and said, ‘I’m gonna get you good.’ Andy said, ‘I’m ready for it.’ And Nat doused him. All hell broke loose with the beers, and Andy enjoyed every moment of it. Later that night I saw Andy at dinner with his girlfriend, Shaggy, Dean, and Taylor Knox at Seaside. He was just sitting down getting ready to have a nice dinner. I think the owner brought some champagne over for him.”

Shot Three: “This was early in the morning. It was stormy and raining the night before with big six- to eight-foot waves. A lot of guys were breaking their boards this morning. I think Parko was out with Dean. They were by far the best surfers out that morning. Mick and Occy were out there, but Dean and Parko were just ahead of everyone else. I pulled back trying to get the stormy look in the background. I was a couple-hundred yards back trying to get more of the France look rather than being full-framed like every other Joe Blow out there. Dean just goes out, does his job, and comes in. I never saw Dean out much in France. I think he was there with his girlfriend at a hotel. He was in contest mode like most of the surfers on tour. When they got a contest, it’s serious; they’re not partying. Once they lose, or once they win, that’s when the party starts.”

Shot Four: “This is Capbreton. It was raining, but fortunately you can sit underneath these roofs when it rains. It ended up being cool having that handrail in the foreground. Taj was hanging with his girlfriend Clair and Twiggy the whole time. His girlfriend lives in France. She was keeping him in check. He was just playing Ping-Pong with her—coffee in the morning and dinner at night. I shot with Taj one day a little north of Rockfood. He’s insane on those little beachbreaks.”

[IMAGE 5]

Shot Five: “I shot this right in front of the stage where Andy was awarded. I was just waiting for Andy and getting a place in the little roped-off photo section. If you don’t get upylor Knox in our little apartment. Knoxy was in a super-good mood in France. He’s got a lot of stuff in his personal life past him. I’ve never seen him as happy as he is right now. He’s surfing the contests well, making good decisions, and he’s on a roll competitively. He’s far from being a bonehead or a Knoxymoron. I’m super stoked on Taylor right now.”

[IMAGE 3]

Sherm on Jack: “Mad Jack was the man. He’s a team player, a true photo warrior, and always on it. Jack’s really come a long way as a photojournalist. I love the way he shoots. He tends to shoot farther back sometimes, to show the foreground and what’s going on—beautiful faraway shots where you could see the whole beach. I was inspired watching Jack, just the way he networks. We’d always end up in the same place, but we had different ways of getting there. Jack was killing it.”

 

Quotes by Jack English

Shot One: “I was in the parking lot, and I met with Art Brewer. One of his assistants was saying that Kelly was going to paddle out. It was kind of small but sunny and clear as a bell. I got my fish-eye out of my car, swam out there, and waited for Slater. I waited out in the water for an hour, and of course he did a no-show. So I saw Megan Abubo out there and tried to work with her for about a half hour. After a while I gave up on that and gradually went down the beach. When I was paddling down I saw Cory (Lopez) on the beach getting ready to paddle out. I was pretty stoked on that, knowing that Cory is easy to work with in the water. He’s probably one of the most photogenic guys on the Tour. Cory’s really good because he gets off the lip. I shot this from a Boogie board, and I’m shooting from behind the wave. So Cory paddled out and the first five or six waves in a row we just connected on every one.”

[IMAGE 4]

Shot Two: “This was obviously after Andy won the competition. He was on stage, and Nat Young was right next to him. Everyone was ready to throw the beers on Andy. Nat just looked at Andy and said, ‘I’m gonna get you good.’ Andy said, ‘I’m ready for it.’ And Nat doused him. All hell broke loose with the beers, and Andy enjoyed every moment of it. Later that night I saw Andy at dinner with his girlfriend, Shaggy, Dean, and Taylor Knox at Seaside. He was just sitting down getting ready to have a nice dinner. I think the owner brought some champagne over for him.”

Shot Three: “This was early in the morning. It was stormy and raining the night before with big six- to eight-foot waves. A lot of guys were breaking their boards this morning. I think Parko was out with Dean. They were by far the best surfers out that morning. Mick and Occy were out there, but Dean and Parko were just ahead of everyone else. I pulled back trying to get the stormy look in the background. I was a couple-hundred yards back trying to get more of the France look rather than being full-framed like every other Joe Blow out there. Dean just goes out, does his job, and comes in. I never saw Dean out much in France. I think he was there with his girlfriend at a hotel. He was in contest mode like most of the surfers on tour. When they got a contest, it’s serious; they’re not partying. Once they lose, or once they win, that’s when the party starts.”

Shot Four: “This is Capbreton. It was raining, but fortunately you can sit underneath these roofs when it rains. It ended up being cool having that handrail in the foreground. Taj was hanging with his girlfriend Clair and Twiggy the whole time. His girlfriend lives in France. She was keeping him in check. He was just playing Ping-Pong with her—coffee in the morning and dinner at night. I shot with Taj one day a little north of Rockfood. He’s insane on those little beachbreaks.”

[IMAGE 5]

Shot Five: “I shot this right in front of the stage where Andy was awarded. I was just waiting for Andy and getting a place in the little roped-off photo section. If you don’t get up there early, you get booted. There were about six of us waiting right there, trying to get position for the awards ceremony. I just turned around and shot this from that little area. There were probably a thousand people on the beach. I think Kelly was saying it was the most-crowded contest he’d ever seen in France. The waves were right on the beach. The water was coming up and just dousing people. A lot of bags and camera gear got wet.”

 

Shot Six: “Andy and Kelly were both surfing ahead of everyone else by far. I think the anticipation was really on seeing Andy and Kelly in the final, but obviously Phil McDonald made it to the final with Andy. Andy just knew this wave. He’s so in touch with these waves, it’s almost amazing he’s ever not on. He knows every wave, whether it’s Teahupo’o or Pipe or anything. He came out and did big airs and surfed like it wasn’t even a contest, like he was just freesurfing. That’s probably why he won. He wasn’t worried about the jersey on his back.”

Jack on Sherman: “Sherman’s a cool guy. He’s a fighter. He was a warrior down there. He was getting the shots and trying to get those personality shots at the bar, drinking beers with his friends, doing the French lifestyle. Sherm’s photography is insane. I’ve looked up to him since day one. He’s amazing. He’s in a league of his own with the black-and-whites and personality photos. I’ve seen people try to copy him. He’s a leader, not a follower—truly original.”

 

 

 

 

t up there early, you get booted. There were about six of us waiting right there, trying to get position for the awards ceremony. I just turned around and shot this from that little area. There were probably a thousand people on the beach. I think Kelly was saying it was the most-crowded contest he’d ever seen in France. The waves were right on the beach. The water was coming up and just dousing people. A lot of bags and camera gear got wet.”

 

Shot Six: “Andy and Kelly were both surfing ahead of everyone else by far. I think the anticipation was really on seeing Andy and Kelly in the final, but obviously Phil McDonald made it to the final with Andy. Andy just knew this wave. He’s so in touch with these waves, it’s almost amazing he’s ever not on. He knows every wave, whether it’s Teahupo’o or Pipe or anything. He came out and did big airs and surfed like it wasn’t even a contest, like he was just freesurfing. That’s probably why he won. He wasn’t worried about the jersey on his back.”

Jack on Sherman: “Sherman’s a cool guy. He’s a fighter. He was a warrior down there. He was getting the shots and trying to get those personality shots at the bar, drinking beers with his friends, doing the French lifestyle. Sherm’s photography is insane. I’ve looked up to him since day one. He’s amazing. He’s in a league of his own with the black-and-whites and personality photos. I’ve seen people try to copy him. He’s a leader, not a follower—truly original.”