Stab Magazine | The Godfather Of The Search, Ted Grambeau, Made A New Book

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The Godfather Of The Search, Ted Grambeau, Made A New Book

“If there was one character who was already on The Search before it even began it was Ted Grambeau.”

full frame // Mar 1, 2018
Words by Jake Howard
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Sometime around 1979 a lanky kid from Victoria, Australia, wanted to see the world and picked up a camera.

“I figured photography would be the best way to do that,” tells Ted Grambeau.

Celebrating nearly 40 years behind the lens, Ted’s got a new book out, and like most all of his work, it will inspire you to hit the wide, open surf road. From favorite lineups, to portraiture, to his latest, more artistic works, “Adventures in Light” is packed with Ted’s favorite images.

“I had complete creative control,” he proudly explains. “All of the photos in the book are based on their photographic merit. I tried not to play favorites with who was in the images, but rather pick my favorite images that I resonated with me the most.”

Playing favorites is tough for Ted because, well, Ted’s a likable guy. When asked if there were any surfers that he particularly enjoyed working with he hedges his bet.

RCS TC TomCurren TED3676

Before Alana Blanchard, Tom Curren possessed the world’s most recognizable bottom turn.

“Curren, we always had a special relationship and I feel very fortunate to have been there shooting that first ride at J-Bay and in Indonesia when he was on the Tommy Peterson board,” says Ted. “I’ve also had some really memorable moments with Mick over the years. I’ve really enjoyed my relationship with both of them.”

“But then there’s probably another 100 surfers that I could list,” he quickly adds. “I’ve been so fortunate to have spent time with so many amazing people.”

One could make the argument that Rip Curl’s famous Search campaign would never have come to fruition had it not been for Ted’s images and his adventuring. As Rip Curl co-founder Doug “Claw” Warbrick points out, “If there was one character who was already on the Search before it even began it was Ted Grambeau.”

“I remember a trip to the Canary Islands. There were a bunch of pros there and the surf was awful. Everyone left and I stayed on for another week. That week the surf really started pumping and I didn’t have anybody to shoot, so I just shot lineups,” says Ted.

For years Ted’s lineups featured prominently on the back of surf rags around the world in the Search ads (back when magazines were a thing). For so many surfers, myself included, for the better part of 20 years, those dreamy lineups embodied what surfing is.

Screen Shot 2018 02 28 at 1.01.00 PM

Images like this result in maxed credit cards.

“There’s one image in the book with Brian Singer, Doug “Claw” Warbrick, Sonny Miller and Tom Curren. They’re in the cabin of a boat in Indo and you can see the spirit in the image,” says Ted. “It’s rare to get the heads of the company out on a boat trip like that, and then to be there with Sonny and Tom, right there in the midst of what they were doing, I think it speaks to what the idea of The Search is all about. It’s not some corporate retreat or something, they’re living it.”

It’s certainly not fair to Ted to think that all he’s done is hop around the world on Rip Curl’s dime. He is as hearty and hardcore an explorer as you’re apt to find.

“I’m always scouting locations,” he notes with a hint of resignation. “Sometimes I’ll make a note of a place and go back there ten years later.”

Case in point, an Icelandic ice flow for a product shoot with Rip Curl’s heated wetsuit. He’d been through the area years prior and had seen ice flowing out of a river and into the ocean. He figured someday he’d be back. And sure enough, when Rip Curl came out with their short-lived electric wetsuit, he knew just the place to showcase it. Thanks to Ted, droves of surf photographers have since flocked to Iceland to the point of it becoming almost, dare we say, cliché.

Then there was the time he drove a motorcycle from L.A. all the way down to the tip of South America…and didn’t even know how to ride a motorcycle when he started the trip. Another favorite is the time he wanted to go find the most northern surfer in the world.

“I just wanted to meet him,” innocently admits Ted.

Something like 1,000 miles north of the arctic circle, “people told me I was going too late in the year, that it was going to be dark, but I figured I could pull it off. So, I got there, and it was dark the whole time and the guy wasn’t even there,” laughs Ted. “That one didn’t really work out so well.”

F IC Iceland 2006 TED9051

Iceland, 2006.


Before we get carried away with wave pools and “the future of surfing,” it’s important to open Ted’s book and remind yourself what surfing really is about: adventure.

“The waves are just sort of like the cherry on top, getting there’s more than half the fun,” says Ted.

Artist, adventurer, and now, wise sage, Ted’s philosophy that it’s better to stay in motion than be trapped behind a desk and his enthusiasm to see new places and meet new people, it’s all delicately showcased in the 240-page book. “Adventure In Light is available for order on and it’s just landing in shops in Australia. It will be hitting the U.S. shore this summer.

Open back cover flat TED BOOK 201800

Riding on the back cover.


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