Morgan Maassen: Santa Barbara’s new keeper of the Flame

Between all the bands playing, films premiering, art showing, and industry blowing going on at the US Open a couple weeks ago it was easy for some events to slip under the radar.

One that fell into that category was the 5th annual Follow the Light Foundation Awards. The foundation was created in honor of the late Larry “Flame” Moore, a beloved Surfing Magazine photo editor for more than 30 years who, when he wasn’t inspiring photographers, was playing a huge role bringing American surfing to its current place: at the forefront of progression.

This year’s celebration was the 5th annual, and the cozy gathering at the Shorebreak Hotel in H.B. was attended by a very groovy set of incredible image makers including legendary photographer Aaron Chang, previous winner Chris Burkard, today’s video maven Kai Neville, and this year’s talented class of finalists: Morgan Maassen, Billy Watts, Corey Wilson, Ryan Foley, Matt Lusk and Cory Wilson.

The foundation was created to help young photographers along in their creative journey to becoming professionals. Yet the award, in just five short years, is already one of the most coveted in surf photography due to the legacy of man who inspired it. In true Larry Moore fashion, contestants put together slide shows to highlight their gems.

At the end of the night, after all the shows were over, 19-year-old Morgan Maassen of Santa Barbara walked away with the $5000 grant, plus an extra $500 for his inspiring work. His artistic effort got rave reviews all around. With the win, Maassen can proudly carry the torch for Santa Barbara surfing artists, a zone that has been producing high-quality image makers since George Greenough in the late 60s.

Here are a few samples of Maassen’s gorgeous imagery. For more shots of the celebration, and of the finalists incredible slide shows, head to