Once a week, for the next five weeks, SURFING will bring you the stories behind each of our senior staff photographers’ careers. They all got their foot into the surf industry’s door the old school way, before Baby Cobras (consider yourself lucky).
Week four: SURFING’s most beloved staff photographer at large, Steve Sherman. Sherm went ahead and gave his two cents about the following fourteen photos, so pay attention kids.
Kelly’s a good friend and I’m around him a lot. I think he likes me ‘cause I’m in his world but I’m not over the top. I work so low key and I think he appreciates that. I’ve been fortunate to get a lot of candid moments of him over the years. He probably got the car for free. Kelly never has to pay for his cars, no matter what country he is in he’s always got the nicest rides. It's good being Kelly.
This was a concept shoot with Andy Irons in Huntington in 2004. I wanted to dress him up as a ‘40s gangster, like a Dillinger. I brought everything, from the wife beater to the cigar, and he got really into it. The thing about Andy was that he always trusted me. The last conversation I had with him was in France and he said, “God Sherm you always make me look so good.” That was the best thing he could have ever said to me.
This was in France and it was the first time I had ever met Chippa. It was howling onshore this day, just super grainy and dark. So I took him to this graveyard in Capbreton, near Hossegor. There was this photo Craig Stecyk took of Mike Vallely running through a graveyard with his skateboard and I always wanted to shoot a photo like that. So I told Chippa and he was into it, just running around jumping over tombstones.
Dane Reynolds at Hossegor in 2005. Him and Andy were out and it just turned offshore. Typical Dane being stylish.
Dane in Natividad. I’m a big fan of Dane as a person, I really like his sense of humor and as a surfer he moves me. It’s cool how he is changing a generation of surfers, not only how they think but how they surf. He’s got the vibe of a skateboarder.
This is Derek Hynd on a finless board right after the J-Bay contest was over. Me and Michael Crawley and Dane Reynolds were sitting up on the scaffolding having a beer watching the surf. And Derek paddles out and this was the first set after the contest ended. He catches this wave and just rode it all the way through to Supertubes and Dane just goes, “Holy f—k that was so incredible.” Our mouths dropped, it was an incredibly poetic moment.
I shot this photo of Occy in Hossegor on one of his last years on tour. Of all the people in the surf world, I get most stoked when Occy sees me and goes, “Hey Sherm how’s it going!?” He’s one of those iconic people and I’ve been a fan of his since I was young. I am just super stoked that I consider him a friend. He’s one of the funniest people you will ever meet.
Ozzie Wright down in Mainland Mexico with Tom Carey shooting flash. I came up with this concept, I had the idea to do it with a remote. It was cool to finally get to do it with Tom at this secret left point studio. That’s skate photography meets surf photography right there.
Archy at Bocas Del Toro in Panama. It's the gnarliest beachbreak that comes out of deep water. Archy is just a totally stylish individual and I love this shot.
Andy in Japan in 1998. That’s when he rode for MCD. It was always fun shooting photos with Andy, he was so lighthearted. That’s him doing a skateboard boneless in Marui when the contest was there.
Andy at Trestles in 2005. I was doing a photo series of the pro’s and their boards. Andy did a little improv and kissed his board.
I was staying at the Hilton in Waikiki for the ASP banquet and I came outside and that was written on Kelly’s car. He has had that piece of shit car in Hawaii forever. I’m pretty sure he was a millionaire at this point and he still had this shitty car.
Desert Point in 2007. In the afternoon the tide dropped and the waves just turned on. I love this photo because about ten minutes before I took it I got the wave of my life; a three-barrel wave that ran across the whole reef all the way through the grower section. I got dragged across the reef but I didn’t care and came in soaking wet and bleeding and snapped this photo. I was on such an adrenaline high that whole afternoon.
Sherm:I got started in high school working in the darkroom for the school paper. After I graduated I went to work for Transworld Skateboarding as a darkroom technician for Grant Brittain. That was my first real jump in being immersed with working with photography at a magazine. I shot for Transworld Skateboarding for 12 years. After that I worked for Stacy Peralta at Powell/Peralta with Craig Stecyk and I did two years making skate videos with those two guys, which was a big deal. So I was working in skateboarding but I was surfing a lot and I wanted to work in surfing. So I started dabbling and doing stuff with Nick Carroll at SURFING Magazine. Then I worked my way up and became photo editor at Trasnworld Surf and eventually photo editor at SURFING. I also worked at Surfer in between those two positions. I have worked at all of the three major magazines so I’ve got a pretty good understanding of surf photography and the surf world. I’ve got a unique perspective because of photo editing. I’m really lucky because I work in the office and then I leave to go back on the road and then I come back to work in the office and then I’m back on the road. It’s a big circle I go through.
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