My Session: New Smyrna Summertime Smackdown By Peyton Willard

July 17, 2020 • Local Photographers, My Session, Photos

Photos, story and captions by Peyton Willard @peytonwillard_

Presented By Wave Riding Vehicles

One of the hardest working young shooters around, Peyton Willard has been putting some serious miles on the road since the Coronavirus pandemic blew up the world and our very own country. Shooting from land and water with 35 mm equipment and shooting video as well, also he super stoked kid from St. Augustine – home to former ESM Photo Editor Jimmy Wilson – is getting the high action goods and hell, he really hasn’t even gotten a swell over 4 foot lately. However, there is something to be said about getting out there and posting up on less than stellar days, honing your craft, getting in rhythm with the surfers and the equipment you’re working with and staying sharp, no pun intended. This is Peytons third submission in as many months and if he’s killing it like this now, we can’t wait til that first good hurricane swell hit’s and see what he can produce then. We think it will be really amazing. – Mez –

Oliver Kurtz with a front side snap. This shot I messed up actually. I shot this at F11 and 1/500th of a second. I’m stoked it still came out good!

Where ? New Smyrna Beach, Florida 

When ? July 11, 2020

Why ? South Wind Swell 

Air & Water temps ?  The air temp was a blazing 93F with water temps in the low 80s. 

Swell direction & size ? The swell was 1.6ft @ 9 seconds out of the Southeast.  Wave heights were waist/chest high with rare head-high sets! 

Wind direction ? Wind direction was offshore all morning, until around noon, when the wind switched to onshore. 

Photographer’s rating ? For New Smyrna, I would give it a solid 7.

Zoe Benedetto crushing a front side snap.

Zoe Benedetto texted me earlier last week telling me she was coming up to surf New Smyrna.  I looked at the forecast and it showed a small wind swell with offshore winds, so I made the decision to go and shoot Saturday morning.  I drove down to New Smyrna Beach at 6:30 am.  I brought Gavin Coluccio, Logan Coluccio, Cole Smyth, and Curren Burkley down with me.  We arrived at around 8am.  We were just in time!

This is Logan Coluccio on a set wave. This shot is insane with the back lighting giving the wave a green glow. This was one of the first waves of the day that I shot.

We parked in the last spot in the Smyrna Dunes State Park.  The beach was mobbed!  It was Saturday, the waves were firing; and an ESA surf contest was ongoing.  This brought a huge amount of people to the beach, which prompted the lifeguards to turn around vehicles trying to drive to the inlet by 9 am.  We got there, and there were waves.

I took this shot to show how crowded the beach was. If you look closely, you can see the cars lined up on the beach. Barely any spots were left on the beach, which is crazy. I have never seen it so packed.

As the tide came in, sets were rolling in and would wall up on the inside, creating super fun, playful surf. As the tide continued to come in, the sets were beginning to line up perfectly through the inside. Perfect split peaks peeling left and right! But, with this firing surf, it brought an enormous crowd. There had to be roughly 100-150 people in the water. I shot from 8 am-1 pm in the blazing sun. All in all such a fun day, especially since, so far, it has been so small throughout the summer that this session has been the standout of the summer season. – Peyton Willard –

Eric Geiselman going all out on this backside maneuver.

This is another lineup shot from the boardwalk. It just shows once again how perfect the split peaks were when they came in. This was also one of the set waves that came in. It was roughly chest/head high. Nothing epic but it will definitely do until we start getting some hurricane action.

Noah Schweizer with a beautiful front side carve.

Gavin Coluccio put down the fishing rod for a couple of hours going to the air and grabbing rail instead of stalking the Indian River with his brother for Reds.

This is Oliver Kurtz doing a backside snap. Another shot through the sea oats from the boardwalk angle.

Treasure Coaster Sutton Kerlin boosting a huge backside air.

This is Blake Speir breaking the fins out and throwing serious tail. With this shot, I wanted to get an angle that was low like the Indo barrel shots. I went to the water’s edge and sat down. I love angles where you are at the surfer’s level or even slightly below them because this makes the wave look slightly larger than what it was.

This is surf photographer Austin Denny skating back to the parking lot to get himself a surf board. I was on the two-story structure in the state park when I saw him skate by. With this shot, I tried to use the rule of thirds and also leading lines to lead to the subject. Basically followed every basic photography rule for this shot!

I remember this wave perfectly. I saw Zoe pumping down the line through my camera as this section walled up perfectly right in front of her. When she hit the section hard and then I saw the fins blow through the wave I knew instantly that this was one of the best moments she and I have linked up on.

An unknown surfer hitting the white water shredding the top off this little NSB nug.

Eric Geiselman again going to the air.

This is Eric Geiselman going vertical. I was on the boardwalk when I shot this. I love the boardwalk because I can get shots no other surf photographers get since the majority of them stick to the beach. I love to get unique angles.

Ava going vertical with style for miles on a very nice, walled-up Smryna.

Blake Speir taking it to the air on an end section. This shot is really cool because of all the boats in the background. One of my favorites from this day.

For this shot I went to the boardwalk and wanted a shot to show the structure of the waves. Shooting from the boardwalk is my go-to place when I want pulled-back shots. This was right before the winds switched onshore. This shot shows the perfect split peaks that were pushing through. This is some of the best wave structure I have seen this year by far.

Oliver Kurtz throwing an air on a smaller wave. Smyrna has been the Right Coast epic center for radical ripping for years now partly for the consistency of the break, partly for the sheer rip-ability of the waves.

Zoe hitting a perfect section. This sequence was insane to see through the camera. She slammed it hard, chucking water 15ft plus in the air. This young ripper is going places far beyond the shores of the Atlantic Ocean as time goes on.