I am not a surfer, nor am I a surf photographer, but a few months ago I went along with my wife and some of her nieces and nephews to one of their favorite family surf spots. This spot is just south of the more famous beaches of Oahu’s famous North Shore. The beach here is smaller, more intimate. There aren’t any sponsored surfers or Quicksilver tents, no pro photographers with $3,000 zoom lenses. Just a few local people taking in the sun and the waves, and me with my trusty Canon.
For one of my wife’s nieces, this was her first time surfing and several of her cousins came along to surf with her and help her find her feet on the waves. This was a different side of surf culture than what I had previously been exposed to. This was the familial surf culture–the tradition of wave riding that is passed down through generations. No one is aspiring to be professional here, at least not yet. The motivation for getting into the water is more spiritual, more pure, more about getting in touch with the rhythm of the ocean and the traditions of their ancestors.
Not to say that the pro surfers don’t feel the same spiritual surge while in the water–much has been written about how they do–but at this beach on this afternoon, there was no pressure to perform. There was only sun, surf, and family, which was what I tried to capture most in these photos.