Idaho is best known for producing potatoes, gemstones, and the lovely Christina Hendricks. Surf imagery, on the other hand, not so much. And yet, somehow, one of the best up-and-coming surf photographers in the world hails from the landlocked state.
“I was into landscape photography when I lived there,” explains 18-year-old Quinn Matthews. “But to be honest, every photo I took was average at best. The subjects just weren’t there.”
It wasn’t until 2010, when Matthews’ family packed up and relocated to Laguna Beach, Calif., that he found something that truly caught his eye and held his focus.
“Surf photography was a completely different world for me,” says Matthews. “There’s so much more force and action in the ocean and I was instantly drawn to it. I started planning photos out on paper, writing down exactly what I wanted in a composition, how I’d need to shoot it with apertures and shutter speeds, what swell it would take. I had folders and folders of recipes for surf photos, and I was just waiting for the chances to take them.”
Now four years removed from the potato patch, the transplant has been quick to seize those chances and make a mark in surf photography. At a time when the work of many trending surf photographers is nearly indistinguishable, Matthews is developing a style that is very much his own.
“I try to incorporate layers—the subject, the foreground, and background—to convey a feeling,” says Matthews. “I want someone to see my photos and be able to put themselves there.”
His technique, along with his portfolio, caught the attention of many brands and magazines over the last year, which allowed Matthews to explore the globe, living out of a suitcase and shooting perfect waves. The photos from his travels earned Matthews a semifinal finish in the 2013 Follow the Light competition, which speaks to the raw talent and lofty potential of the young photographer.
“I’ve just been fortunate to develop good friendships with a lot of amazing surfers,” says Matthews. “I spent a month in Europe last fall with Yadin Nicol, and he’d go out of his way to introduce me to everyone we came across. Having talented people to shoot with has been huge for me.”
Matthews is looking forward to chasing the world’s best waves with the world’s best surfers, but he won’t be satisfied until he wins Follow the Light, which he says would put him in the company of surf photographers like Morgan Maassen, Todd Glaser, and Chris Burkard. If everything goes according to plan, we’ll be seeing a lot of Matthews’ photos in the coming years. Who knows? Some might even make it back to Idaho.
Meet Ray Collins, the man who pulled the trigger for The Big Issue cover
"Waves are an endless blank canvas, you don't have to convince them to get up early for good light, they don't age, trend, or change sponsors." —Ray Collins
Kohl Christensen teams up with big-wave elite to advocate for safer lineups
“You want to be responsible,” said Christensen. “You want to have good equipment and wear your safety vest, not just for yourself, but for those out there that might be trying to help you. For your friends. There’s no reason not to. Big-wave surfing is an extreme sport. A lot of people have died. A lot of people have had friends die or come close to dying. How do we prevent it? We can’t totally, but we can do our part to manage the risks.”
After his win in Santa Cruz, the freshly sponsored pro wants to get to work
On the eve of Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, the night before the start of the Triple Crown in Hawaii, Torrey Meister catches his breath on the sand after a late session at Sunset. It’s been a hell of a week for Meister, a stretch where in one day at Steamer Lane he took a shortcut up the pro surfing ladder and earned a new paycheck, complete with a fresh sticker for his nose. Still reeling from the win, Meister explains how he got here and where he’s headed next.
An interview with SURFER staff photographer Chris Burkard about his award-winning photo from Norway
SURFER Senior Photographer Chris Burkard, he of the cold water and pulled back landscapes of far-off locales, recently added another note to his résumé with a win in the "Spirit" category of the Illume Image Quest. Here, he talks about that photo.
The symbiotic relationship between a pro and his shaper
Pyzel has known the Florences and shaped exclusively for John since he was five. He made him his first custom board, and hundreds, if not thousands, since. He describes their design dialogue as a healthy back-and-forth; ideas flow both ways until they find something that works. It’s obvious that both have benefitted from the relationship.
Here's a quick study in modern hydrodynamics. Y'know, fins.
What you don’t know about fins could be holding back your surfing.
And other things I learned in "Tom Blake: The Uncommon Journey of a Pioneer Waterman"
Tom Blake was a man's man, a jack of all trades and one of modern surfing's most decorated forefathers. This book, Tom Blake: The Uncommon Journey of a Pioneer Waterman, is a comprehensive look at his life and legacy. This review is anything but. Whet your appetite on a few tales here, and then go buy a copy of the book.
Please stay in the damn water. It’s the only place you’re safe.
Creed McTaggart. A fresh-face out of West Oz, a laid-back bloke who listens to The Velvet Underground and has long hair and has for the last six months been perpetual putty for the hippest in surf.
Waste to Waves is turning discarded foam into custom surfboards
The creation of one standard surfboard produces nearly 600 pounds of CO2, which is a lot considering that most boards weigh in around six pounds. In 2012, determined to find a solution to this, Michael Stewart and Kevin Whilden cofounded Waste to Waves and challenged surfers to help cut that footprint in half.