A candid interview with SURFING Photo Editor Steve Sherman about the creation of the 400th issue cover.
The 400th issue is something that everyone here at SURFING Magazine has been looking forward to for a long time. Ideas about something special were being knocked around the office for months. SURFING Photo Editor Steve Sherman came up with the idea of capturing the latest (and greatest) generation all together.
But how to do it? Would they all get along? Would everything come together?
SURFINGthemag.com sat down with Sherm to get the details on this complicated bit of portraiture.
SURFINGthemag.com: So, Sherm, this is a pretty impressive photo. How did it all come together?
Sherm: We really had to do our homework for this one, to get them all in that shot. Before I even left for Australia, we started calling these guys like 3 weeks ahead of time – telling them that we were gonna do this. We also called all their sponsors and told them we were gonna do the shoot. So we kind of bombarded them from all angles – from their sponsors, from Evan (Slater), and me. Just surrounded them with emails and phone calls. And even when we got to Australia we didn’t know when we were gonna do the shoot because the guys all had various promos.
About 2 days before I was there we figured out what afternoon would be good. So we all met at the Calypso hotel, because most of the guys were staying around that area. That hotel would be our meeting point.
SURFINGthemag.com: Where did the shoot go down?
I kind of knew the area for the shoot already. It’s right on the border of Queensland and New South Wales. Like, once you cross the border from Queensland to NSW, it gets seedy right away, with all the strip clubs and things.
SURFINGthemag.com: Kind of like the difference between Huntington and Newport?
Exactly. So, the original alley that I wanted to do it in had actually been torn down for a high-rise, so I had to go find another alley, which was, like, two blocks away. And I told some guys to get there a little bit earlier.
After I get the whole thing set up, well, this was just a few days after Hunter Thompson had died, you know, and I’m a huge fan. So, I went to the 99 cent store and bought some black spray paint. I go up to the room and go, “I’m gonna tag that wall with a big Hunter Thompson, RIP”.
And Sam [Macintosh] was like “Sherm, don’t blow it. Don’t get arrested.” So, there I am at the wall in the shoot in the middle of the day with all these people looking down on me from this huge high-rise, and I tag the wall with this huge ‘Hunter T. Rest In Peace.’ I had a vision of it being on the cover in the background, but it just didn’t quite work out where you could see it.
SURFINGthemag.com: It sounds like everything was coming together.
Yeah, they all show up in the hotel lobby slowly but surely. Mick gets there first, and then Deano, and then Andy called and said, “I’m gonna be there.” And then Parko showed up and they all were there.
SURFINGthemag.com: Was there anyone that you were stressing about that maybe wouldn’t show up?
Dean Morrison I thought would be the hardest one, but he was one of the first to show up. I had talked to Andy a few days beforehand, and he was actually the most amped of anyone to do it. He was really excited about being a part of defining that generation. He got it. Right off the bat. So he was cool. Everyone knew Andy was gonna show up.
And they all showed up in the lobby, and then we jumped in cars and drove about 2 blocks away, went to the alleyway. I had it all ready to go.
SURFINGthemag.com: Was there any drama once you got to the location?
It was funny, I took Sam Macintosh from Stab Magazine — he was kind of the go-to guy. He was helping to make sure Taj was there. I had been to that alleyway, like, three times that day making sure that everything was cool and nothing was going wrong. Kept checking the lighting and stuff. And there was this little ledge that I had been next to all day, and it seemed like there was just nothing wrong with it. So then I set my ladder up, my tripod up, and I’m getting ready to go, and Sam leans against this ledge, just kind of kick back, and he head-butts a wasp hive that was underneath the ledge!
So all of a sudden there was a swarm of angry wasps swarming around the shoot. And they are stinging Sam at a rapid pace, like, “Ding, ding, ding”. And he’s screaming “Agh, agh, agh!” Dean Morrison is running like an Olympic sprinter. He’s, like, two blocks away. So Dean is gone, everyone else is running in different directions, Mick Fanning is laughing hysterically watching Sam get stung – he thinks it’s the funniest thing he’s ever seen in his life.
SURFINGthemag.com: Did things finally calm down a bit?
Yeah, Sam is a bit dizzy from nausea from getting all the stings, everyone is running, and I’m thinking “Oh my god, I’ve got to find a different place”. But it ended up that the wasps finally settled down. They went back into the hive. Sam is putting ice on his stings and then everything was good. They all came back, in and we started shooting. It took about a half hour.