Stab Magazine | The surf cover shot's not dead?

The surf cover shot’s not dead?

Words by Morgan Williamson  The death of surfing’s cover shot is up for debate. The principle of the magazine cover is simple: the best shot gets cover and drives the maximum sales from the newsstand. But, it’s 2016 and the first to present anything breaking digitally wins. Surf shots are leaving the cover and being replaced by […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Words by Morgan Williamson 

The death of surfing’s cover shot is up for debate. The principle of the magazine cover is simple: the best shot gets cover and drives the maximum sales from the newsstand. But, it’s 2016 and the first to present anything breaking digitally wins. Surf shots are leaving the cover and being replaced by profiles, landscapes and illustrations. Blame Facebook, Instagram and our ever-so accessible pixelated devices. Good surf shots are rarely saved, archived and inked atop of a couple hundred pages. In today’s age instant gratification’s the sweet opiate in media’s blood. Anything already presented to the public eye’s old news, in the constant change of our industry, you don’t re-hash the old… that’s become the traditional ideology at least.

The brilliant Surfer’s Journal sees the rules of surf media’s modern inconveniences and breaks them. The cover of their most recent issue features Craig Anderson, high lining a Kanduis freighter on his 5’4” Hypto Krypto taken by Iker San Martin. You’ve seen this shot, when the “swell of the century” hit Indo you couldn’t flick through Insta or any surf media outlet without being slapped in the face with Ando white lining a tropical blue wall. “When we made the decision we realised it was a shot that deserves to live in print,” Alex Wilson, Managing Editor of The Surfer’s Journal tells Stab. “The general rule of thumb is the more it’s been seen the less we want to use it, but there’s always exceptions. When we first saw the shot, our thoughts were: that’s the cover. We felt like it was durable in a way that regardless how many people have seen it, it should live in print forever. It’s a timeless photo and print’s a timeless medium.”

All too often we flip through our Instagram feed and think that shot could have been the cover. The Surfer’s Journal‘s keeping the tradition surf cover alive and there’s an admirable integrity to it. “Who knows man…” says Alex on the topic. “It’s just one of those debates that we will keep having as we continually recalibrate the world we live in. It’s an ongoing conversation for sure.”

Surfer J body

“We felt the shot deserved to live in print forever”- TSJ. Photo: Iker San Martin

“That was the biggest wave I got,” said Craig Anderson on what’s now a cover shot. “It didn’t even really barrel, but the board felt sick. It was probably a six-wave set, some of the best waves I’ve ever seen. I wanted to spin on the first one, and the second one, but I was scared ‘cause the day before I’d gone on the first wave of the set and got detonated. It didn’t rattle me, I just didn’t want to do that again. So for some reason I just swung on the last, biggest one that didn’t quite hit the reef properly. I made the drop real late and the wave just spat. I bottom turned, and it was just a perfect wall to snowboard on. I didn’t turn hard or anything, just did a sort of highline carve-down thing. I didn’t really get barreled or do anything on the wave. It honestly felt like I was snowboarding down a wave. It felt really cool.”

When Welcome to Elsewhere dropped featuring Kai Neville’s archived clips of Mr Anderson during this session a fair bit of conversation sparked in the comment section. “Hanging on for dear life on that fucking disc,” said Stab commenter Bench Warmer. “A 5’4 really? Craig Anderson is one of the most stylish forehand barrel riders since Gerry Lopez. If he would have been riding a proper board we could have seen some of the most mind blowing stylish shit ever! Instead what we got was Craig gunning for the shoulder trying not to skip out on that wide kook board.” Which is a fair statement however, Craig riding that Hypto Krypto during that session forced him to draw lines we’ve never seen before on that wave in that juice. Perhaps on a traditional six-foot-plus board this shot wouldn’t exist. Unorthodox methods have always created the most interesting art.

Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun– Pablo Picasso


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