SE80 Photobook 2011 is on sale now in the finest newsagents across Europe, as well as some pretty average ones.

Sancho recalls, “That day was the best day in ages, one of those magical, epic days. It was real nice out in the water, a mellow crowd with just friends out at that sandbar. This one was the biggest bomb that came through, when all the boys are calling you in you’ve got no choice… you gotta go.”
Benjamin Sanchis, France. Photo: Duncan Macfarlane

They say framing a photo isn’t merely about what you include within it, but also about what you decide to leave out. The photographer making the decision about what parts of the world are important by omitting all the others, bringing the viewer’s attention to certain objects, events, people or simply colours he or she deems worthy of your eye. And in the world of surfing, photos are the vehicle that convey the promise of perfection, adventure, deathly gnarl or perhaps, simply nice clean fun. You can’t hang a video clip on your wall and stare at it as you drift off each night (OK technically you can hang a plasma screen, plug your computer into it and play vids, but whatever), urging yourself to dream of exotic surfscapes, and you probably won’t blu-tack an interview or feature article, no matter how well written or up your alley, above your scratcher, desk or on your fridge that’ll be the impetus to lure you out of your warm pyjamas for that still-dark-bloody-freezing dawn patrol. Chances are it’s the photos that provide the common currency for all of us as surfers, transmitting the potency of what wavey riches we have already had, and promises of those that we’d like to have.
The annual photo special therefore is much easier for us to put together, as well as much harder. By keeping the sole focus on the images, how they were captured, by whom, of whom, where and why, we’re keeping our focus on the stuff that really matters, the pictures that essentially make you want to surf. But at the same time, curating a batch of surf shots that stand out from a year’s worth of headline swells, peak performances as well as just for the arty farty’s sake of it, well you can imagine there are more than one or two bangers that get left on the cutting room floor, so to speak.
In the Photobook 2011, we take a look at the portfolios of four roaming surf photographers, Timo, Laurel, Villalba and Russo, as well as get the contributing photogs themselves to write the captions for the main Home and Away galleries. Not some donkey editor’s interpretation or clever word play on what’s going on in the shot, but straight from the photo horse’s mouth; how they took it, what was really going on, perhaps even why they feel it’s worthy of a spot in a year’s greatest hits album.
It’s easy at times to get a bit sanctimonious with photo specials, to pour grandiose lordings over a largely non-photo trained readership about why these pictures are ‘technically beautiful’ or ‘important’, perhaps shat some technical info about f-off stops over your baffled heads. But hopefully we haven’t done that, hopefully, this issue, rather than make you want to become a photographer, will simply make you want to go surfing. But only you can be the judge of that. Time for me to shut up, for you to look at the pictures and make immediate plans for becoming wet and salty – and devilishly photogenic. – PE


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