Raven Lundy (pictured above) has seen nature's womb more than any man should... so he hopped to the other side of the lens. Photo: Patrick Duggan
What Happens When You Get Too Many Barrels?
Spoiler alert: you become a sometimes surf photographer!
Who here is satisfied with the quantity of quality surfs in their lives? Certainly not me. Even with a flexible job and residence on America’s most consistent coast, I find my life woefully deprived of epic surf sessions. It’s a few-times-a-year thing, at best.
But there are certain people in the world -- most of them pro surfers, others lucky souls in money poor, wave rich regions -- who surf so many great waves every year that they all become a blur. One barrel blends into the next as their life begins to function within the realm of one long, wet tunnel. These folks get tubed so often that it becomes, dare I say, boring.
Me on the other hand -- anytime a potentially epic swell pops on the charts I’m combing my rolodex for local info, prepping my supplies days in advance, and investing every ounce of energy into finding the best waves within an X mile radius. It’s the most exciting thing I can imagine doing with my life, and I become physically ill at the thought of missing one of these opportunities.
Which is why I will never understand the surf photographer. If you're not a surfer yourself, then where does the motivation come from to either freeze or suffer a heat stroke on the beach while shooting (mostly) terrible sessions for (always) terrible pay? And if you are a surfer, how can you stand watching perfect waves while you're swimming in the impact zone or fighting off sand flies? It makes no sense.
Virginia’s Raven Lundy ain’t exactly bored of tubes, but the east coast stalwart has altered his trajectory from fulltime tube-stuffer to halftime tube-stuffer/sometime tube-photographer. I called Raven, who since I can remember has worked as an east coast Billabong rep, to figure out how a guy who’s committed decades to chasing pits up and down the east coast, can bear to miss out on perfect waves... for the sake of photographing them.
Is it for money? Fame? Is he just sick of getting barreled? I had to know.
Stab: Hey Raven! I’ve seen your photos popping up around the web and they’re pretty sick but… how do you deal with watching all those incredible waves go by, when you could be surfing them yourself?
Raven Lundy: Well it’s not like I don’t surf anymore [laughs]. I’m still surfing when the waves are good, but sometimes it’ll get crowded or whatever so I’ll just snag the camera and get a few shots. I’m happier to swim around and try to score photos than I am sitting around in a packed lineup.
So you’re not doing this for money? For fame?
Nah man, I’ve never sold a photo in my life. It’s really cool for me to stoke people out when I get a good photo of them, and also to experience surfing in a different way. I’m not trying to steal other photographers’ thunder or undercut the market or anything. I’m just a guy trying to have fun.
But I would kill to surf some of those waves you’re shooting. Do you think you’ve become a little jaded after like… twenty years of scoring the east coast?
I obviously still love getting barreled, and you know, sometimes I do step-offs when we can find an empty stretch of beach. So when you get used to that… to getting tons of barrels all by yourself, it’s hard to be super motivated to sit there with 20 guys waiting for a good wave. It doesn’t give you the same adrenaline rush.
So last week there was a swell on the Outer Banks, and according to Brett Barley you tried to swim out but got denied… then you drove a jetski six miles to get some shots. That’s serious dedication.
That was stupid is what that was [laughs]. Yeah, I tried to swim but the current was so gnarly, I pretty much got swept right away. The I tried to paddle out on my board with the camera, so that I’d be able to fight the current a little better, but I got caught inside, got absolutely smoked, and broke my leash. I saw Brett and told him he should let me take his ski out, but he was a little apprehensive because the ski hadn’t been run in a long time. Eventually he let me go, and I had to drive it through a crazy channel to get it out to the spot. Once I got there, though, I got some of my favorite photos to date.
Yeah, I guess from that perspective I can see where the excitement comes from. So long as you still get your fill of waves, it's probably fun to mix it up.
For sure, but I don't want it to seem like I think I'm better than anybody or I get more barreled than anybody. People are always upset about something, whether it's for using a jetski or exposing a surf spot, but I'm just out here doing what I've always done -- trying to have as much fun in the ocean as possible. I love surfing, I love being in the water, and I want to experience it in as many ways as possible.