You embark on that epic surfing road trip with your closest mates, boards stacked high atop of the roof and tunes blaring out of the radio. You’re all yabbering away in the backseat, like those hyperactive kids that just ate all the candy. You’ve got high hopes of scoring, and begin to reenact that swift vertical drop, making the cracking sound of that wave as it hits the sandbank, fresh spit flying on your mates’ forehead, before pulling a towel over your head to stage a perfect entrance to a hollow tube. You might be too busy acting like a turkey to realize it now, but these days are some of the most memorable of your life. You know, the times you’ll remember fondly when you’re all grey and shuffling along with walking sticks. And for that reason, these moments just have to be captured.
I’ll begin with selfie sticks. What are the main intentions behind them? Would they even exist in the absence of social media? I mean, there’s a pretty distinct line between capturing a moment, and making a right fool of yourself.
Let me present you with a case. On a recent surf check, I casually spotted two women seated on a fluffy blanket on the beach, cane picnic basket, crackers & camembert cheese, each clutching a glass of freshly poured wine and a beautiful sunset to match. ‘How lovely,’ I thought with envy, as the surf was junky and onshore, and totally not worth paddling out for. But do you think they could get around to drinking those glasses of wine?
They spent a good ten minutes with their selfie stick, getting that perfect angle, along with the perfect pout, perfect amount of cleavage, and perfect puff of wind to drape strands of peroxide locks across their face. I could feel my own face starting to involuntarily twitch at such a sorry sight. Sadly, this was not an isolated case of publicly embarrassing selfie activity.
Unleash your authentic side
Deep breath. OK there’s always going to be those type of individuals out there. Something you and I will just have to accept in this technology-driven age. But you’re not like that. There’s a much more authentic way to go about this.
As a surfer there’s countless moments that come to you, in the most spontaneous way imaginable. In the water, you have a matter of seconds to nail that one shot, because that unique wave you just danced along, only lives once, before fizzling out in the sandy shoreline (insert cheesy line about the similarities of a wave, to the journey of life here.)
Second best to being in that moment of wave riding, is having an image to remind you of every section of that green wall, and the euphoric feelings attached to such a moment. The difference is, your main drive is to have that moment captured for yourself, not solely for social media. This switch in intention has a way of altering the energy of what you’re all about.
Out of the water, adapting an authentic intention moves you away from photos that force the whole social media illusion of ‘look at me everyone I’m having a great time,’ to cutting the BS and capturing the moment for what it is. Remember, a photo always has a way of taking you right back to the moment. In the case of our wine drinking (or wine propping) glamour girls on the beach that day, they’ll likely remember that photo for the regretful ten minutes they wasted staging a perfect image, rather than one quick snap before simply enjoying each other’s company over a stunning sunset.
Making the most of right now
I guess all these feelings were evoked when I recently stumbled upon dusted albums full of my surfing adventures, captured in hard copy from my early days of surf discovery. As I flicked through the images, I could hear the whisperings of my nagging parents dropping words that seemed to come across as more of a threat, “you better make the most of your youth, it’ll be gone before you know it.” My response likely consisted of exaggerated eye rolls, and a loud sigh at the amount of times I had heard that line. I’m sure you can relate. But like most things, your parents always tend to be right.
You probably hear a lot from the older generations about how your twenties are some of the best times of your life. I’m not yet over the hill, but now my twenties have almost passed, I would have been filled with so much regret, had I not had those albums to look back on. After all, how are your grandkids ever going to believe that their favorite gran on pop used to rip?
That humbling surf footage
If you’ve been surfing a while and want to take it to the next level, then you just have to know what your surfing looks like on film. I’m already giggling to myself, because I know what a humbling experience this is for you.
I remember being lucky enough to score a place at a women’s high performance surf camp many moons ago. They had an ex-pro film our surfing for a couple of hours, before heading back to the lavish headquarters to watch it all, frame by frame on a huge plasma TV. Here I was thinking that my turns were going OK. Maybe I’d even get picked for sponsorship. Until I saw that footage. OK to be honest I thought I was ripping. Gulp.
After swallowing your pride, you do begin to realize just how valuable those frames become. Breaking down each and every part of your turn in slow motion, you’re able to recognize how one subtle shift of foot placement, or opening of the palm, allows you to close that roundhouse off on a dime. The type of corrections that make some surfers wonder ‘maybe I do have a shot at going pro.’
If your mates are all too caught up in their own surfing, rather than taking turns at filming, then it’s well worth investing some spare coin in hiring a professional to do it for you. This will accelerate your surfing many years ahead, than what it would, to go without that footage. It all helps to break down your overall style. Because after all, surfing is all about having style. On the whole, if it feels good, it looks good.
So, there you have it. There’s plenty of ways to get trigger happy without the need of your retractable selfie stick, or to be ever-connected to your lifeline of Facebook feeds. I guess the takeaway is to get out there and enjoy the adventure without a primary focus on how it’s going to look to the ever-obsessed world of social media. Adapt an old school mindset. Think about how it would have been for Gerry Lopez or Miki Dora, to only have film cameras to capture the moment and treasure each frame as unique. Make it a shot to marvel upon for decades to come, not for as long as social media exists.
SHANNON DAVIDSON is a passionate surfer from Byron Bay, Australia with an obsession of all things beach life. Inspired by the perfection and mystery contained within the ocean, Shannon loves to share with the world, through her writing, all that she finds along the way. Follow her adventures on surfchickareta.com.