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The Dark Side of The Lens

I never set out to become anything in particular, only to live creatively and push the scope of my experience for adventure and for passion. They still all mean something to me, same as most anyone with dreams. My heart bleeds celtic blood and I magnetize the familiar frontiers. The raw brutal cold coastlands for the right waveriders to challenge – this is where my heart beats hardest.

I try to pay tribute to that magic through photographs. Weathering the endless staunch for rare glimpses of magic each winter is both a blessing and a curse I relish. I wanna see waveriding documented the way I see it in my head, and the way I feel it in the sea.

These are the lines of Mickey Smith, a renowned surf photographer, in his short film titled “The Dark Side of The Lens“. The visuals in this film are simply stunning and its monologue is incredibly inspiring. About the film, in Mickey’s own words –

“I wanted to create that something that would give insight into what it takes to grind out a living as a water-based photographer in the surfing industry,” Smith explains, “to provide a short, experimental glimpse into life lived in the shadow of what is, for me, an obsessive pursuit.”

Transcribe of the video

Life was never something I was raised to embrace. My ma always encouraged us to open our eyes and hearts to the world. Make up our own minds to experience, to be inspired.

I see life in angles, in lines of perspective – the slow turn of a head, the blink of an eye, subtle glimpses of magic – other folk might pass by. Cameras help me translate, interpret and understand what I see. It’s a simple act that keeps me grinnin’.

I never set out to become anything in particular, only to live creatively and push the scope of my experience for adventure and for passion. They still all mean something to me, same as most anyone with dreams. My heart bleeds celtic blood and I magnetize the familiar frontiers. The raw brutal cold coastlands for the right waveriders to challenge – this is where my heart beats hardest.

I try to pay tribute to that magic through photographs. Weathering the endless staunch for rare glimpses of magic each winter is both a blessing and a curse I relish. I wanna see waveriding documented the way I see it in my head, and the way I feel it in the sea. This is a strange set of skills to begin to acquire. This is only achievable through time spent riding waves. All sorts of waves on all sorts of crafts. There is more time spent learning out on the water, floating in the sea amongst lumps and swells, you always learn something. It’s been a lifelong wise old classroom teacher of sorts and hopefully, it always will be.

Buried beneath headlands, shaping the coast, mind-blowing images of empty waves burn away at me.

Solid ocean swells powering through deep cold water, heavy waves weighs in wait, coaxed from comfortable routine, ignite the imagination, conveys some of the viny spark, whisper possibilities, conjure the situations I thrive amongst and love to document.

We all take knocks in the process – broken backs, drownings, near-drownings, hypothermia, dislocations, fractures, frostbite, head wounds, stitches, concussions, broke my arm – and that’s just the last couple of years, still look forward to getting amongst it each winter though.

Cold creeping into your core, driving you mad, day after day, mumbling to yourself while you hold position and wait for the next set to come. The dark side of the lens – An artform that to itself and us, silent workhorses of the surfing wake. There’s no sugary cliché. Most folk don’t even know who we are, and what we do or how we do it, let alone what they pay us for it. I never want to take this for granted so I try to keep motivation simple, real, and positive.

If I only scrape a living, at least it’s a living where I’m scraping.

If there’s no future in it, this is a present worth remembering.

For fires of happiness and waves of gratitude. For everything that brought us to that point on earth at that moment in time, to do something worth remembering with a photograph, or a scar -I feel genuinely lucky and hand on heart say I love doing what I do. And I may never be a rich man, or live long enough, then sadly I have a tale or two for the nephews. And I dig the thought of that.

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