Stab Magazine | Career Opportunity: Want To Be An Aspiring Surf Photographer?

Career Opportunity: Want To Be An Aspiring Surf Photographer?

Surfing Heritage Foundation offering $5k and a job for the best young surf photog.

news // Mar 3, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Before the death of print and subsequent rise of Instagram, surf photography used to be a job. Surf magazines and brands actually paid people to stand on the beach all day and take pictures of other people riding waves. Every month these said magazines would land in your mailbox, and as soon as you were done basking in the latest travel feature or profile, you’d rip your favorite photos out and pin them on your wall. Some mags even came with posters – as a grom, it was awesome.

The high art of surf photography is hardly dead. A quick scroll through the feed illustrates just how many incredible images there are out there today. But making sense of the topsy turvy business of surf photography, well, that’s something else entirely.

It used to be that aspiring lensmen could cut their teeth interning for a mag or assisting an established photographer. The mags have gone the way of the dodo and the career path for an aspiring surf photographer isn’t what it once was.

21.curren fan flame copy

A young Curren gliding by the shutter of Larry “Flame” Moore.


Larry Moore

That’s where the Surfing Heritage Foundation and Culture Center in San Clemente is stepping in. Recognizing how important still imagery is to the sport of surfing, they’ve decided to bring back the Follow the Light (FTL) grant program in the name of the late Larry “Flame” Moore. 

For those too young to recall how one day of “Larry light” could transform their career, Flame was the 30-year photo editor of Surfing magazine that utilized the close-outs at Salt Creek as his own personal studio. During the ‘80s and ‘90s he introduced the surfing world to the likes of Archy, Christian, Dino, Pat O’Connell and too many more to list. Among a laundry list of accomplishments, along with Sean Collins, Flame is responsible for pioneering Cortes Bank 100 miles off the coast of Dana Point.

But Flame also took the time to foster up-and-coming surf photographers. Running their shots in Surfing magazine and offering technical advice, he mentored a lot of guys that are still shooting photos today.  

26.flame dane kealoha copy

Dane Kealoha putting an exquisite touch to surfing’s most fundamental skill. Film may have overtaken stills today, but regardless of how high your frame rate goes, it’ll never capture the subtle details of a well-framed moment in time.


Larry Moore

In 2005, Flame succumb to a well-fought battle with cancer. After his passing a group of friends and family formed the “Follow the Light” Foundation to ensure that his legacy continued. FTL dedicated itself to honoring this legacy through an annual grant program that also included an awards presentation ceremony highlighting the work of each of the five finalists. 

Running from 2006 to 2015, FTL’s past honorees include some of today’s most recognizable photographers, including Chris Burkard, Todd Glaser, Ray Collins and Morgan Maassen.

“It’s not easy to be a surf photographer today, but it’s vitally important to the sport and culture that it continues to be documented and celebrated through photography,” explains Shawn Parkin, photo editor of The Surfer’s Journal, former Follow the Light grant winner and one of the people responsible for bringing the grant program back. “It’s exciting to see Follow the Light come back as a platform for young photographers to showcase their work and be recognized for it.” 

Recognizing that the arena in which surf photographers work today has changed dramatically since Flame was at the helm of Surfing magazine, the grant winner will receive a minimum $5,000 award, as well as a working opportunity with one of the supporting brand sponsors. The global competition is open to anyone under the age of 25. The winner will be selected from a pool of five finalists (who will all receive a minimum of $1,000 to help cover their costs).

Entries will be accepted starting March 19, 2019. The submission deadline is April 26, 2019. The FTL awards ceremony will be held September 12, 2019 at the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point.


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