If it was a contest this one was really over before it even got started. More to the point, it was fait accompli when, back in the early 1990’s, Tom Dugan got to the beach 30 minutes before me and decided to shoot The Champ from Sebastian Inlet’s up front and center “Honey Hole” photo angle next to the jetty with his tripod mounted Canon 600 mm lens. Upon arriving and sussing where my partner was I set up with my “6” about 75 yards up the beach to the north in front of Larry’s Lefts as a courtesy to not step on Doogie’s angle and, hopefully, catch what we call a crossfire and come up with two unique perspectives of the same move at the exact time for the pages of ESM, a longtime reader favorite. Not easy to do but, when it happens, it is truly photo magic based partly on serendipity and the synchronization of two shooters camera’s 10 frames per second motordrives. And this is about as magical as it get in my opinion as you will see below.
This crossfire of Kelly – dubbed the “Tomahawk Chop” by an ESM staffer – is also illustrative of just how crucial the angle a photographer chooses can be and the the difference between a cover shot, a double page spread or a postage stamp. In this case it was the difference in having one of your best ever frames getting turned into a beautiful public statue of surfings GOAT, Robert Kelly Slater ( Tom’s head-on look ) or being relegated to close but no cigar obscurity gathering dust in your files ( my up the beach p.o.v. ). Yeah, cover shots and double spreads are ( were ) nice and many, many photog’s can claim them but only one guy I know can claim an accolade as unique as this. Me? I’m just stoked I was there to have witnessed it and have my little piece of 4 color slide film memorabilia in my own collection – along with this ESM Crossfire – which ain’t a bad consolation prize at all. – Words by Mez –
Tom Dugan – an avid surf memorabilia collector for decades and the man who snapped Kelly’s first ever published surf shot 40 plus years ago – with what has to be THE ultimate piece for anybody’s collection just waiting to be signed by Kelly someday ( ya’ listening, Champ? ). Photo: Mez