When it comes to surf photography, Surfing Magazine’s legendary photo editor, Larry “Flame” Moore, left a light that will never go out. And those who were in attendance at the Follow the Light (FTL) Foundation Awards Ceremony last night were reminded of that.
Shortly after Flame’s passing in October 2005, his family and friend formed the FTL Foundation to continue Flame’s legacy of supporting up-and-coming surf photographers. Each year, the grant program awards one young talent $5000 to kickstart their careers. This year’s finalists included Shane Grace, Nick Green, Paul Greene, Ryan Mack and Nolan Sullivan.
As the sun set over the Ocean Institute at the Dana Point Harbor, the nominees mingled with some of surfing’s most sought after lensmen. The small group of dedicated young photographers approached seasoned sharp shooters like Todd Glaser and Ryan Craig (both previous Follow the Light winners and present judges) for words of wisdom. Invaluable advice, ranging from the artsy and business sides of the craft, was happily doled out.
The late Flame was introduced to the audience through a slideshow of his photos narrated by Surfing’s former editor, Nick Carroll. Carroll told stories of how harsh of a critic Flame could be, especially of his own work. Also, how Flame kept photos of massive Cortes Bank secret for ten years. Carroll had the crowd laughing in a way only Carroll could as he reminisced working with Flame. “Flame would’ve loved all of you,” Carroll told the five nominees before turning the night over to them.
After each finalist shared their finest images with the audience, Tasmanian photographer Nick Green was announced as the winner. He was given the prestigious Follow the Light award and was handed an enlarged novelty check. The award, understandably means a lot to Green. “Struggling with mental health was my biggest influence to take photos,” Green expressed back when he received the nomination. “When I was 17-years-old I threw myself in front of a moving car. It hit me at 90 kmh and sent me flying, and somehow I survived with only a broken hip and snapped femur. It isn’t something I’m proud of, but without that mistake I wouldn’t be where I am today–both with my photography, and with other aspects of my life.”
In Green’s photo “Dark Hollow” (below), there’s a light shining through the opening of a dark and moody barrel. Green candidly shared with the audience that he uses this photo as a metaphor for depression. He said that no matter how dark or alone one may feel, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. For Green, pointing a camera at the ocean is that light.
Congratulations to Nick Green for following in the footsteps of Larry “Flame” Moore and creating beautiful surf imagery. Thanks to the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center for reviving the Follow the Light Awards.