It’s fun to photograph Eden Edwards’ surfing. She’s a friendly person, smiling and making jokes, but make no mistake: she’s part shark. Once in the water, she lurks and waits till the ocean shows certain bumps on the horizon and then she starts moving around in the lineup and as the best wave of the set rolls closer she’s in position and she paddles with the confidence of a surfer who has caught thousands of waves.
As the Lane mostly serves up chunky rights and she is goofy footed, Edwards has mastered the art of the bottom turn to backside hack, a la Ruffo, and each year she is more aggressive in her approach and more stylish in her execution.
Stay tuned for more ripping surfing from one of Santa Cruz’s bright young talents.
Why are people drawn to the edges of things? When you fly over the country, you see the patterns of our development very clearly. We form tight grids and stick to the edges of things. It is almost like the edge of a territory is the surface of some kind of water. We tend to remain where there is visibility. We stay out in the open.
But there are some who choose to live up in the mountains. Some people make that commute each day and nestle away in some canyon nook up in the higher elevations. There are lots of reasons to live in a remote location, but can we escape from the advance of the digital age? These things are hard to answer, because we don’t know what is going to change. For example, we only learned about CFCs and their effect on the ozone layer after the damage was done. Now, we are seemingly waiting on an innovation from technology to save us from catastrophe.
We are experiencing a high degree of Techlash, or backlash against tech, and are putting all of our faith in technology at the same time. The thing is, we have no reason to trust. That is possibly our stupidest trait, but maybe it is also our most beneficial. Intelligence doesn’t equal the good. For something to be good it has to work for people and there are so many different ways that things work or don’t. You have to judge things by their results.
In some ways we are on the edge of a new territory because of the rapid advance of technology. We are entering a new phase of discovery. Some of those ways are literal. Elon Musk is planning on sending a million people to Mars. I didn’t think that was possible, but there he went and said it and he seems to be quite serious about it, too. Now talk about proactive, that’s really getting ahead of the curve. That is a serious programmatic attempt to radically increase the human sphere of influence. Why is he doing it? To get away from AI? Is it inevitable to colonize other planets? Are we already beyond repairing the earth’s atmosphere? If it is possible to make Mars suitable to human life, then why are we so worried about global warming? Isn’t Mars hotter than anything we experience? Lots of questions with that one. The edge of where humans call home is about to radically expand.
There’s one big unanswered question: will there be waves on Mars? What kind of gravity is there? Is it possible to harvest water from deep space to create a wave pool? Will Kelly Slater still be ripping at that time? Questions, questions, questions…
I don’t want to go to Mars, but I can see it happening. That shit is likely as fuck. I don’t know why. It just seems like something I would do. Hopefully it’s cool. The main thing I don’t like about Mars is the whole family aspect. I don’t want to leave my family. Maybe we will all go? Hopefully, we will make that voyage after they’ve worked out a few of the bugs and have that wave pool pumping. What about skateboarding? What is the gravity situation like on Mars? I’m sure they will be pouring tons and tons of hempcrete up there, so there are sure to be some sick spots. But what about the oxygen levels? I know so little about the red planet.
I know that Elon Musk is a highly effective person, though, and it makes me wonder if he read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, because he would make Stephen Covey proud as a pride of lions. I’m studying that landmark book because I think that it is one of the most helpful self-development books of all time and anyone who I respect is basically working through different parts of this system. Covey was a genius. All hail Stephen Covey. He is a lighthouse in the darkness for people who didn’t receive adequate discipline or structure as a youth. For anyone who wants to be more effective in what they are doing, the book is a treasure trove of wisdom and practical advice.
Say you are a skateboarder and people are starting to comment on your style and you want to try to move beyond casual and occasional sponsorships to really create a career for yourself, then this book can help you to master the process of creating your path in such a chaotic world. I mean think about Elon and all of the thousands of things for him to think about, but he is still coming up with these huge visions. It’s because he has good habits and has mastered how to make effective use of his time.
The first habit is to be proactive. That is such an important word. It has roots in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s idea of self-reliance. To be able to get things started is to increase the likelihood that business will happen, that other people will care. If you take it upon yourself to produce your own media, to curate your own projects, and to communicate with the public about the work you are doing and want to do, then lots more things are likely to happen for you. Being proactive is key to attracting opportunities you want.
What does it mean to be proactive in photography? It can mean all kinds of different things depending on the kinds of photos you take. It could include contacting models, brands, clients, doing a podcast, having a YouTube channel, creating tutorials, networking with other photographers, etc. The only limitation to the ways you can be proactive is your imagination. You can study other photographers. What is working for them? Why? You can learn about art history. What is the meaning of the way we make photographs today? You can learn about the technology. What makes a mirrorless camera different? Education is always a way to expand the circle of your influence, as Covey suggests. You need skills, knowledge and desire in order to do good work and there are ways to develop each of those elements. That is part of what it means to be proactive as a photographer.
It also means having vision. You have to get really good at knowing what you like and why and how to get it. How do you make your photographs? What would you say your style is? That is always the question that keeps coming back up. Being able to answer it is an important first step to increasing what you are able to do.
Loyalty is a rare value, today. Values in general are scarcer and scarcer in this age of vanity and digital complacency. What is loyalty? It’s both what you will and won’t do. It’s with whom you will and won’t share your time and energy. Loyalty is the foundation of trust. If you are loyal to me, then I can give you the best of me, because I know if I need it, then it’s coming right back. Loyalty is what makes families strong and the lack of it is what causes us to falter. Being loyal is vowing to never betray those who matter most to you.
You always heard older people talking about how fast time moves, but it wasn’t until you actually had experienced enough years to feel it for yourself that this mysterious element of time began to take shape: acceleration. My dad used to share an explanation for it. He thought that you always feel the same age internally and can remember what it was like to be younger, so the more time passes the faster it seems to go. It’s mostly an effect of the conflict between knowing that a lot of time has passed and feeling that it was just yesterday. He has a rare capacity for memory, though. He can remember slight plot details and character points from novels he read twenty years ago. When I stop to remember things that vividly stand out in my memory, like the earthquake of 1989, it doesn’t feel like yesterday, at all. For me, it feels like a different lifetime.
Living on a planet orbiting around a sun streaking through this part of the multiverse is a trip. Every month the full moon aligns with the setting and rising sun reminding us of our planetary status. The stars and the moon have been mysterious to humans for as long as we have existed. There’s more power in watching the stars and the moon than we could possibly know. Surf revolves around the tidal movements caused by the distance of the moon to the earth. As surfers and surf photographers, we have to attune ourselves to the patterns of the ocean, which means getting in synch with what is happening in the heavenly spheres.
Photographers are a curious group. So many different styles and approaches lead to amazingly different points of view. Photography is a dangerous art, but there’s no such thing as a safe art. Being drawn to the ocean in the pursuit of waves makes for a tricky set of balances.
The ocean contains the mystery of our biosphere. Water is the medium of life. People who are defending the ocean stand in the service of life itself. Finding ways to get our trash out of the ocean and to keep it out should be an extremely high priority. Putting people to work on addressing the environmental calamities we’ve caused could be a tremendous source of job creation and a natural solution to our most pressing problems. Let’s start with cleaning the beaches.
Big Pete’s Treats is a Medical Cannabis Edibles company based out of Santa Cruz, and they hold a series of annual Beach Cleanups. Here is a link to their schedule of cleanups for 2016. Pete Feurtado’s love of Cannabis and the ocean have merged in his business by getting the community involved in cleaning the coastline. It’s a great way to spend time with friends doing something that makes you feel good.
Gary Irving in his natural environment: the studio. Don’t be fooled by his adventure-machine (the ultimate van for exploring): he’s not all safaris and mud-flaps. This guy has compelling ideas about art, too. He’s a technical wizard who does things with Photoshop that make people scratch their heads with a dazed-by-jealousy smile. It has been a real treat to work with Gary while he is creating a masterful series depicting the Seven Sins as things we have done to the environment. Making art today would seem pretty hollow and shallow without considering our global contexts. Climate changes, nuclear proliferations, genetic modifications: there are plenty of concerns facing every human, and every living thing for that matter. Gary has a vision and it is a dark one but one that is full of intelligence and wit. For anything to change, we need first to face the problems confronting our times and that is what Irving is attempting in this series: it is a self-portrait of humanity’s vices on the edge of the brink.