The Surfarazzi

After a couple weeks of out-of-control surf and very few rippable days in between, Backdoor is showing signs of brilliance. The talent level in the water is high, and the abundance of photographers waiting to document it is higher. You can’t help but notice their close proximity to each other as they shoot in giant packs–taking up to 30 photos of the same surfer from the same angle. Added up, it’s a million dollars worth of camera equipment all looking to do the same thing. Welcome to the world of the “Surfarazzi.”

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With very little publishing space in the magazines and very few surf magazines in the world, there’s a lot of competition to get the best shot. On the North Shore the competition’s fierce, and each year new photographers join hunt, all searching for “the shot.”

With the age of technology and digital photography emerging, it’s getting easier and easier for new photographers to learn the trade. However, on the North Shore, it’s a little different. Most of surf photography’s most famous names have spent years or even decades building relationships and gaining the trust of the world’s best surfers. It’s not like you can just park your brand-new 600-millimeter lens in front of Brian Bielmann, Hank, or Jeff Devine and start asking them 101 stupid questions. And the newbies are even less welcome in the water, where guys like Scott Aichner, Tim Jones, Wyatt Tillotson, and Chris Van Lennep will make sure you know your place.

If you thought all the competition on the North Shore took place on surfboards, think again.–AC