Greg Martin worked in the British surf media for 10 years, with a varied career spanning a variety of roles including staff photographer and editor for the now deceased Pitpilot, and of course this fine rag. We’ve mined Gregs archive for some of the best shots and stories, which feature British surfing (and it’s peripheries) in what many would consider to be its hay day, and each week we’ll be brining you 5 of these shot/ story combo’s. More than anything what sets Greg’s work apart for me his is ability to tell stories and in the past few years he’s taken a step back from the surf world, instead opting to tell stories full time as a photojournalist. You can see Greg’s recent work, which is a bit like Humans Of New York, but for the depths of Cornwall on his Facebook page here.
Click the first image to enter full screen, then click on the image to make the caption appear, then scroll through the gallery with your arrow keys.
June 2013 – Just before the Wavelength office closed in Newquay. Lunchtime surfs and views from our desks of the sea, we knew we had it good! (This was when the mag was left our offices on South Fistral, after it was taken over by a different publisher. It moved in land for a while, before returning to the beach-front and our current spot down at Tolcarne, where we frequently enjoy views from our desks and frequent lunchtime surfs once again! – Ed)
October 2007 – I’d just started working for Pitpilot and this was my first glimpse of the north coast of Scotland. Across some of the slippiest rocks was the reward of Brimms Ness
May 2010 – James Parry toes on the nose speed blur for a feature on his fancy footwork. He had to do this right in the Sennen shore break to get the shot.
March 2005 – Early morning at a very quiet spot in Cornwall. Back then I mopped floors for a job, so the rest of my time was spent searching for waves to shoot and surf.
October 2009 – Oli Adams slotted at a slab in Cornwall. Russ Winter ended up getting a similar shot to this that day which made the cover of Pitpilot, so this one never really got a decent airing.
Feb 2010 – The best run of epic Leven I’ve seen. This shot never got printed because I snapped it quickly on my little Olympus Pen in-between proper ‘pro’ shots. In photo snob terms, it’s like taking a shot on your phone, but it’s good for capturing moments. I love how this photo shows that when we get really good waves, they can grab anyone’s attention… unless you’re a dog who was promised a walk… in which case they are really, really boring.
October 2006 – I was never much of a water photographer, but this shot meant a lot to me at the time. My second ever assignment from Wavelength was to go to the Outer Hebrides to shoot the making of a Surfers Against Sewage film. 8 days of jaw-dropping beauty was mixed with some big characters and heavy events which never were, and probably never will be told in public. Let’s just say that when I managed to hook up for this photo with Spencer Hargraves during a moment of sunshine and sobriety at a remote beach break, a massive weight was lifted from my shoulders.
May 2009 – Any experienced surf photographer will tell you, if it’s misty, you might as well leave the camera behind, no matter how good the waves are. Fast action with no contrast, shot from far away results in bad photos. As an eternal optimist I have hard drives full of bad misty photo attempts to prove this. But this one of Seb Smart paddling out to shrouded perfection… this one I like. It might not sell the classic surfing dream, but surfing in the UK isn’t always about blue skies.
Sept 2009 – As an editor, you hope for characters who are gushing with sordid tales, eager to see their stories in print. But sometimes surfers just like surfing, and shapers just like shaping. With his brother, Malcolm Campbell is one of the most influential shapers in history, creating the three fin board years before the ‘thruster’. He just doesn’t like to go on about it.
November 2010 – With its wintery colours and victorian lamp post, James, Wavelength’s designer, always said this shot made him think of Mr Tumnus. The magical spot of long lefts in Devon is actually where I first learnt to walk, on holiday from Newcastle. This particular day was one of the few times I’ve gone back there in recent years, but now that I have a bit more time on my hands, I’m definitely keen to return to Narnia.
All photos and captions by Greg Martin