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 10 of these shot/ story combo’s.
This week the selection features some of Britains finest wave lighting up, and takes a look at some of the legendary characters that make up British surf culture.
Greg’s currently works as a photo-journalist for the Cornishman, 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.
January 2010 – From a freezing session at the Hendra end of Praa Sands, this shot of an elusive peak, which only works for a tiny part of the tide and always feels too rippy to reach, became a running joke at Wavelength. I thought it should definitely be printed – I’d suggest it whenever we had a free space – but the rest of the team were less convinced. That’s what changes when you go from being freelance to working in a team… you have to get less precious (even when they’re blatantly wrong).
April 2009 – When Alex Wade wrote a piece on the surfing/shaping legend Chops Lascelles for Pitpilot, hinting that through distant royal relations, he is technically in line for the throne, an idea for a portrait came to mind. Of course, Chops was dead against it, but being so in love with his latest board, he finally succumbed on the condition it could be in the photo. I fired off a load of shots, knowing that all of them were useless… they weren’t quite what I had in mind. But finally, I plucked up enough courage to ask; “Chops, that’s great. But can we try one with your trousers down?”
June 2010 – This was a quick hit trip to Wales that I did with Alex Baker and Lyndon John Wake. Needless to say, there was a lot of giggling, plenty of boy-racing, and too much loud dubstep… but I survived. This particular spot was lit up like a studio. My plan was to have more of that rock in the shot, covering the whitewater, but Baker went a bit higher than I was expecting on this one.
April 2009 – This day was already big. It was already heavy. But when this freak set came through at the semi-secret spot I was shooting, it was the meanest looking wave I’ve ever seen in Cornwall. I’m pretty sure you could drive a bus through it… at least a mini-bus anyway. Much braver than me, that’s Tony Plant getting the water shot. And I think maybe Alan StokApop Stokes duck-diving.
October 2006 – I think this was the first proper day of a trip to Hossegor with a few of Sennen’s finest. We woke up to see Tom Curren on the phone, stood on the balcony by our scummy hotel car park. Star struck, we jumped in the car and headed south to get away from the massive onshore mess out front. After a long day searching for waves, we got back at dusk to see one of Curren’s boards, snapped in two in his dustbin. There wasn’t a breath of wind. We bombed down to Capbreton to see this (I think this is Eric Rebiere) as the sun set. It turned out to be the best waves of the trip.
February 2011 – One of my favourite surf shots. Phil Williams about to surf the Severn Bore. All that mud, the homemade nose guard, the GoPro and helmet, the frost on the ground, the fact he is stood in a field in Gloucestershire. It’s so far from the commercial ideal of surfing, it’s more real than cool. Phil – a true legend – looking endearingly eccentric and wonderfully unrad.
February 2012 – I always thought it was important to balance the shock and awe, and aspirational perfection in Wavelength Magazine with a bit of ‘girl next door’. Commuting every day from PZ to Newquay, Gwithian was my dawny pitstop when it was on. After a pre-sunrise surf this particular morning, I was driving away to work when I saw this view in my rear view mirror… my old friend looking stunning.
April 2006 – I think this was the first time I met Ben Skinner, one morning at Godrevey car park. Surfers Against Sewage wanted some shots of him riding a new eco longboard, and Wavelength had asked me to try and get a portrait of the young surfer, who everyone had ear-marked for a great future. For a brief moment as I got awkwardly close, a bit of camera shyness looked a lot more like worldly wisdom.
September 2010 – From this very day three years ago. Sunrise at a very special place in [redacted]. I’d driven up to shoot a swell for Wavelength Magazine and my plan was to do a feature on some of the local surfers there. But it was a chart everyone had spotted, and the whole East coast was swamped with surf paps like me, and sponsored riders from Cornwall. I saw some amazing waves, and met some very talented locals, but ultimately, with my camera, and as part of the hunting group, I felt like I was fuelling tensions about mags like ours exploiting such magical breaks. So I decided, that morning, this would be my last trip to the land of the rising sun – as a surf photographer anyway.
February 2010 – The plan this day at Porthleven was to try and nail a cover shot between us. Ben Selway swam out for the fisheye angle and I set up way back by the old lifeboat station. We both kept our eyes on Oli Adams, who knew what we wanted and was ready to pull into anything. But when the wave of the day came through, it was underground legend Patch Wilson who stroked into it, earning himself his first – and my first – cover of Wavelength Magazine
All photos and captions by Greg Martin