August 28, 2014 - Get your GoPro we’re getting 20-30 foot waves! I was to meet a bodyboarder at 5am at the famous SoCal surfing spot, The Wedge to get some sweet immersive GoPro footage. I wish we could’ve used the bodyboard-specific mount I bought, but it required punching a hole in their boards…so we went with the helmet cam. Unfortunately, the footage didn’t yield too much and in the end, it’s just like any other remote camera.
HOWEVER, I had never been to the spot before, so I got there early, walking the beach at 3:00am with the moon at only 7% visibility. I couldn’t see the crashing waves, but I could sure hear them. I started shooting right away as I came across one early surfer sitting on the lifeguard tower watching, listening and waiting for the waves. At one point before sunrise I was sitting on the sand shooting a time-lapse when a big news van came rolling onto the beach, disturbing the stillness, and landing right in my shot. I was a little upset since their headlights were blaring, but not two minutes later I heard an engine revving and some mumbling from the few spectators that had trickled in. The van was stuck in the sand. Karma.
Even though my assignment was more geared toward the GoPro footage, I obviously wasn’t going to sit there watching. I had to photograph! The crowd swelled quickly along with the waves, and soon enough there were hundreds of people gasping at the sight of a 6-foot person taking on a wave 5 times his size. I got home, called the desk, and sent in some images. That night I was told I was getting the cover A1 spot, but what I didn’t know is that the cover was going to be JUST my photograph. My first cover in all it’s full-bleed glory! :) I was told by a colleague that it was the largest photo he's ver seen on the front of the Register. The real honor, however, came when I went to the Newseum website and found out the OC Register’s cover with my image had been rated as one of the daily Top 10 covers in the US. In fact, both the OC Register and LA Register made it on the list.
It was an unexpected step in my career, and one that I’ll never forget.
(Photos by: Foster Snell/Orange County Register)