When did you begin to find success professionally as a photographer? Was there a particular turning point for you when it went from just a passion to profession?
After I graduated from college for Visual Journalism, I took a few months to strictly travel. I used this time to create a portfolio that was relevant to where I wanted to work. I lived out of my van and sent my work to every editor’s inbox address I could get my hands on. A few months later I managed to land myself a staff position at Surfer Magazine doing a vast variety of work which fit my personality perfectly. Telling stories in a variety of mediums and traveling to do so. That was a huge growing period for me.
You travel a lot. What has been your favorite destination for surfing? What about for not surfing?
This is a hard one. I’ve been to so many amazing places it’s always hard to settle on a favorite. Everywhere is different from the people we meet to the landscapes we explore. I think I’ve gotten my best waves in Australia, which isn’t that exotic, but such a good time. Not surfing? Man, this year alone… Vietnam really has my heart as a place that purely surprised me. I ended up going twice on back to back trips and each one was incredible. Bhutan was also insane, riding motorcycles across the Himalayas was incredible.
Give us a crazy adventure story (or two) from your adventures on the road.
I went back to Russia a couple weeks ago, which got me thinking about our last trip out there about a year ago when we went hunting for waves in a remote region of the east coast. We helicoptered in to this small river mouth point, and as we did we saw boats racing away but thought nothing of it. Turns out, these boats were full of local Salmon Poachers that were camped on this river mouth for the season. They saw us flying in, cut their nets and bailed. Later that day returned to see us surfing this little wave and were pissed they cut their nets for no reason. That night in the pitch black we got a little visit from one of them, holding his shotgun out at us and asking us what we were doing there and where our booze was. He went back to his camp, discussed with the boys whether they should kill us or bribe us. Turns out it was pretty early in the season, better chance to bribe us and keep hunting than kill us and have to bail from their cash crop river mouth. So our pal, came back to our camp a couple hours later, handed us a shotgun with one shell and told us not to get eaten by bears and bailed. He thought we were idiots to be out there, we were just stoked to have lived!
Out of everywhere your travels have taken you, what has felt like the most foreign destination and why?
Somehow I think Haiti a couple months ago must be the one. We went a day after Hurricane Matthew decimated half of the island to assess and implement clean water filter systems with an organization called Waves For Water. It was pretty eye opening, the chaos and severity of need that happens instantly to so many places in the blink of an eye and how much we take for granted at home.