How Taj Burrow Learned To Say “Yes” To Some Admittedly Pretty Crazy Shit
Three figures who’ve left an indelible mark on our Guest Editor.
(Ed.’s Note: Ask any pro surfer and they’ll quickly confess: you’re only as good as the company you keep.
Over the last two decades, Taj Burrow has kept one of the tightest possies arround, from filmmakers to photographers, magazine editors, shapers, biz partners, travel caddies, etc.
While Taj Burrow’s Touring days are over, on the last day of his reign here at Stab as Guest Editor, we wanted him to recall a few of his closest comrades, with whom he’s remained thick as thieves after all these years.)
I’ve had the incredible fortune to call quite a few very good men my closest friends.
Sam McIntosh and I are basically like brothers at this point. John Respondek… Shiiiit.Definitely John Respondek. I forget exactly what year we would’ve started working together, but definitely John Respondek.
Before that, though, one of my best friends was Kevin “Twiggy” Sharland, a photographer that I worked with heaps as a grom. He was from Western Australia and we just shot everything together.
We had quite a few Waves covers, and stuff back in the day. Sam [McIntosh]’s old stomping grounds. We worked heaps together, until I was probably 25.
When I was on tour, I wanted a video guy, and he was my favorite person on the planet. I just wanted a video guy, so I convinced him to pick up a video camera. I got him on the road with me. He did both photography and filming.
Twiggy was one of my best friends. Everyone on tour just loved him so much. He was just everyone’s favorite caddy, just a really good guy. He was the coolest guy on the planet. He traveled with me everywhere, he was my go-to photographer at home here, all the time. He even lived with me for a while.
I can’t remember exactly when he died. We were traveling in France together, and he had a heart attack. I’d have to look it all up. It was even later, because I was older than 25. He was probably 10 years older than me. He was from Yallingup. I don’t even know what year it was that he passed, now. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with, still to this day.
As for John Respondek and Sam McIntosh, they both grew up in the same town. We’re all old friends. We became friends because we were all roughly the same age, and Spon started shooting photos, working with Waves, which at the time Sam was editing.
Our first magazine trip together was probably for a DVD that Waves slapped in an issue, called 7 Days, 7 Slaves.
It was a sick trip. It was pretty iconic in a way—it was a Mentawais boat trip, but we just had a really cool group. It was me, Matt Hoy, Jake Paterson, Nathan Webster, Luke Hitchings, Dan Malloy, and Ozzie Wright. I think that’s it. I don’t want to leave anyone out. Was that seven?
It was Sponos first big gig, I’d say, and he got some insane photos. It was the sickest trip ever. That was his first big stepping stone to a career, as well as working closely with me because we had just gotten along well. We just did a lot of trips after that. The rest is history.
Sam and I… at this point, we’re basically best friends. We love to tease each other. We bag each other all the time.
We’ve just been working together so closely, since day one, since he was working for Waves. We’d work together and we’d surf together. We’d both bounce ideas off each other.
He’s a genius when it comes to the surf industry. When he started Stab, I really got involved, just because he is my best mate, and with all of the wild ideas he had, he wanted to use me because he knew I’d be game. The first issue, we did that helicopter shoot. It’s still one of the best sessions I’ve ever had.
We worked well together. We had a really tight relationship. We still do. We always will.
Everyone always thinks that I own Stab Magazine because I had so much involvement. I don’t have any ownership. I wish I did, because he’s created a monster.
We’re just best friends, and I just love his ideas. But don’t get me wrong, he’s come up with some fucking horrible ideas. Shit, I’m trying to think of some right now, what have I got? Fuck!
I can’t think of one right now—most of them never went anywhere, but he’s come up with some shockers.
But the majority of his ideas have always been very insane.
One thing Sam taught me, that I really have taken to heart a lot in my life lately is, just to not say no to things.
When you get offered something—something unique or something you’ve never done—tick off a new box! Whether it’s go bloody skydiving, or just something random, that if someone asks you, if you got the opportunity to do it, to go!
I used to always say, “No, no. I’m good. I’m good.” I was set in my routine. I really learned from Sam, because he doesn’t say no to anything. He always fits everything in. He loves it. He takes on everything he can.
I think it’s a good way to live, and I’ve actually been doing it a lot and it’s been insane. Just different experiences instead of getting stuck in your old ways. That’s really rubbed off on me – just to say yes to more things.
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