Pensacola Beach based photographer Alex Dantin has his work cut out for him simply by nature of where he lives on the Gulf Coast’s Florida Panhandle. Also affectionately known as the Redneck Riviera, a swells longevity here can often be marked in hours or a tide change and is often of the here today, gone today variety. A few key things of utmost importance to being a surfer as well as a successful photographer on the west side of the Florida Peninsula are having a degree meteorological knowledge, passion, persistence, timing, patience and the psychological make-up that can endure weeks, if not months, of shithouse-to-non-existent waves. Comes with the territory and, judging by Alex’s favorite photos of 2009 submission presented here, he has all those survival traits dialed and is fast becoming the regions top shooter. To see more of Alex’s images follow him on Instagram at @alex.dantin – Mez –
Alex Dantin, Gulf coasting, with a coldie in hand, after a long day of shooting.
This is a photograph of my friend Ben Long in Alabama during the Tropical Storm Nestor swell. That day was hands down the best day of the year on the Gulf Coast, but this photo really sticks out to me because it was one of Ben’s first waves of his session. He’s got style for days, especially with the backside no grab on this one. The next frame of him getting spat out of this thing is pretty mental too.
This is a photo of my buddy Chris Allen. He was living in California for a few years but recently moved back to Gulf Breeze, FL. This photo stands out to me because I think it represents just the tip of the ice burg of all the knowledge he learned on the West Coast about board designs. He has created his very own style and can even bust out signature dance moves on whatever he rides.
This photo was taken in Fort Pickens. It’s my favorite area to camp during the cooler weather. I think it’s pretty rad that once upon a time the entire island once looked like this. What makes this particular photo & area of the beach so special is that (fingers crossed) it will never be commercially developed with high rises and restaurants.
This is a photo of my friend Ian Greenwell. As many know, the Gulf Coast doesn’t get waves as often as the East and West Coast, so we don’t mind the occasional strike mission for chest high surf every now and then. We had to go for a little hike after a boat ride this day, but it was all worth it. With Ian ripping this wave and the fact there were only three other guys out at the spot is the reason this photo stands out to me.
Hurricane Michael pretty much made all of Pensacola Beach’s sandbars obsolete. My roommates Steveo Clark & Jake Smith found this little gem over a year later. This is the image that gave us hope that they are starting to come back.
This is a photo of Sterling Spencer the day after the Nestor swell. I was still busy editing the photos from the previous day I only went out and shot for maybe twenty minutes. I came home with about two dozen photos and somehow snagged this image with the perfect back lighting for Sterling’s shadow to be symmetric with his board. It’s like one of those trick shots some say “you’ll never be able to do that again.”; I accept the challenge. Haha!
This photo was taken a few miles from the national sea shore on Pensacola Beach. I really dig it because as you can tell in the background it’s not very good at all, but that doesn’t stop the stoke of dawn patrolling in the early hours of the morning with your homies just to get wet before the start of the work day.
Back to the swell of the year, Nestor. I took over 4000 photos that day, but I’ll never forget this one. I remember watching this wave roll in from out the back and thinking to myself that I was completely out of position to link with Jake Smith, but I held up the housing and fired away with any hope that at least one photo would come out. It felt like an eternity waiting to see if Jake would make it out or not. We all thought that he would be held down on this one for a little while but to our doubt he came flying out of that thing and the entire lineup lit up & went wild as if their favorite NFL team had won the Super Bowl in overtime. I wasn’t in the best position but this photo is still one of my favorite images I have taken in my entire photography career.
This was a “classic” day on the Gulf Coast this fall. The winds had been onshore all day long & were forecasted to switch offshore that night due to another cold front. Mother nature decided for the front to push through earlier than expected and Sterling and I managed to snag a few before dark. This is one of my favorite images because it’s one of those that “you have to live here” type of moments.
This is one of my favorite photos from this past summer. You can almost taste the post sesh ice cold twisted tea now. Welcome to the “Emerald Coast.”
Hurricane season can be the best or worst time of the year as we all know. It’s always nice when they never make landfall and only send swell. Some may say this wave was better back in the day but my homie Tommy Printess sure made it look dreamy when we were there. Thanks again Tropical Storm Barry.
Alex Dantin, geared up and ready to swim. ( Ed. note, for more of Alex’s work follow him at @alex.dantin on Instagram )