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With my passport collecting dust and my odometer on the 4 Runner barely turning over any miles, 2020 seemed like a lost year as far as a normal year of photography goes for me. So, while I maybe didn’t have as much to draw on in diversity by being locked down at home and not traveling to much, except to shoot the ESA Championships, along with an unexpected detour to Southern North Carolina, I did mange to find a couple of images in the files I am happy with. I am stoked to present them here as our fourth in a series of the 20 Favorite Photos From 202o featuring some of our coasts most talented shooters. – Mez @mezapixels –
Ben Bourgeois leans into a Hurricane Teddy left. Not only did this one make my 20 from 2020 just for it’s size, beauty, water color and Benny’s form and style but also because 12 hours before I shot this I was on 1-95 headed to the ESA champs when I got a call from buddy Chris Burnette who lives in the Atlantic Beach, NC area. He basically said F’ the Outer Banks as their area would have crisp, offshore winds for 3-4 for days and pumping surf while Hatteras will out of control and totally unridable. He also said Ben had just got into town so that was all I had to hear and I detoured to 4 of the best days chasing surf and hanging with the local crew than I had in very long time . This was one of the first waves I photographed the first day and it did not let up for three more days straight. Thanks Chris, I owe you another fifth of the rum of your choice !
Vance Weyandt, Larry’s Lefts at Sebastain Inlet. What’s not to love about mini groms busting moves like this at one of the most photographic and productive honey holes on the east coast. I almost paid for my house since I started shooting here since 1971 ha-ha!
Taken at a place I’ve stared endlessly at on maps over the past 50 years – and Google Earth later on – wondering what the hell could possibly be out there. Thanks to Hurricane Teddy and my drone, I finally got to find out.
A closer look from the ground.
Blown up! A situation you never want to find yourself in but, eventually, we all do. Closely check out the competitor on the inside in the full GIF sequence below, she was horrified as was everyone at the 2020 ESA Championships who witnessed it. The gritty girl dusted herself off and paddled back out seemingly no worse for the wear.
OH S#%T !! By Mez from www.easternsurf.com on Vimeo.
I was heading home to Florida after 10 days of chasing Teddy swell and shooting the ESA’s Easterns. A little swell popped up the morning of my departure so instead of heading to 1-95 South I went on a recon mission down on Pea Island south of Rodanthe to hook up with Benny B. and found this with nobody on the beach for miles in either direction. I called Ben, who was scouting Buxton, and told him to get his ass up where I was pronto. He met me at the Highway 12 pull over that I was at where he jumped in my car – masked up with all the windows and sunroof wide open – and we ended up shooting some one of a kind images on a canary yellow, Claude Codgen 6-8 single fin stinger ( more on that session later ). There still is some romance left in surfing if you just take a chance now and again win, lose or draw.
Benny with the Claudie for my ‘Old Yella Projekt’. He totally killed it on that boxed down rail thing and rode it the whole session. I even told him to ride his board if he wasn’t digging on it half way through but, Soul Man that he truly is, said he was having way too much fun on Old Yella’ and rode it til the tide killed it off.
I’ve watched and photographed Asher Nolan since he was a scrawny grom who became a World Tour level surfer who then became the Hurley East Coast team manager for many years. Now he’s an excellent, world class surf photographer and videographer. Here’s Ash flying a drone during Teddy filming Benny B. I love capturing this kind of lifestyle / environmental portraiture almost as much as surf action.
Florida grom-ette Daya McCart hucking the kind of turn you don’t often see this early in their development. This is one I was really stoked on when I chimped it through the back of my cameras LCD screen while standing on the beach.
Daya Mc Cart tell us how you really feel!! Next to capturing the required peak action images at a surf contest the “reaction shots” are just as important to me and the best ones are not east to get. You have to be on your toes and the shutter release button at all times and knowing something about a competitor after studying them in action for awhile definitely helps. It’s a special discipline unto itself and I’m not talking about the predictable, getting chaired up the beach shot after each final. This shot is one of my faves because it not only captures Daya’s pure elation after snagging a finals winning ride but because it is also is representative of her – an amped, super stoked kid who loves surfing to the nth’ degree so I was half expecting this emotional outburst after photographing her at a lot at contests and Sebastian Inlet the past couple of years.
While the Outer Banks and the on-hold ESA 2020 Championships was one big, blown out, windy, messy, seething ocean; about 3 hours to the south it was a bit of a different story. Hurricane Teddy, Day 3.
Hurricane Teddy, day two, with Benny B. plugged in and driving on a step up with the only guy out with him being his buddy ( and boat driver the next day ) giving double shakas on the shoulder. We walked about 3/4 of a mile to this spot – me humping my 600 mm lens strapped to my back with an equally heavy camera bag slung over a shoulder while carrying a very heavy tripod in my hand – far away from the crowds and it was worth the effort. Especially since I had two icy cold IPA’s in that camera bag and Ben nailed several long drainers this session. After two beers, the hike back was easy peasy.
Number one in my 20 for 2020 are the three loves of my live, grandaughter Maddie, Tonya – aka Mrs. Mez – and Frankie. As much as I like surfing road trips, the hunt and capture ( or skunking ) and all the adventure it brings, once my car is pointed south to Melbourne Beach FL headed home I can’t wait to get back to these two smiling faces and one happy, tail wagging buddy.
Randy Caldwell at RC’s. This kind of stylish, high performance longboarding is a joy to watch and never gets stale to photograph for me.
Hang time at Salvo, NC. I got my first drone 3 years ago and it changed my life just like my first Canon 600 mm f-4L autofocus lens did in 1988. I’ve always loved aerial photography but it’s always a mission from start to finish and quite costly. Flying a drone is just not the same as being above it all in a plane but flying a plane this low is probably illegal and dangerous to try get an seagull’s angle like this.
Dressed for cold weather and Covid at the ESA 2020 East Coast Championships. Masked men ESA videographer John Ross ( left ) and tech wiz/trouble shooter/stage manager Dylan O’Donnell up on the scaffold.
Unidentified Atlantic Beach area barrel rider high, tight and perfectly slotted during Hurricane Teddy.
Looking north at the new by pass around S-Turns and highway 12. The ocean giveth and the ocean will sure as hell will taketh away eventually in this war of attrition between Mother Nature and the NC DOT.
Thank God the sun has set on 2020 as wonderful as it still was at times, especially during a moment like this in southern NC.