Here at SURFER, we strive to tell the most interesting stories in the world of surf. But without the beautiful surf imagery produced by our talented staff and contributing photographers, the pages of our magazine would be lifeless. Since the inception of the magazine in 1960, it has always been the breathtaking photos that have made SURFER what it is. It takes a lot of talent, drive and hours behind the lens to capture a photo that puts the viewer in a specific time and place—whether it’s in the barrel or on the beach looking out at an empty lineup in a feral location. Below we applaud our finest lensmen and celebrate our favorite surf photos of this year’s volume:

Featured on the Table of Contents page of our April Issue, Kaimana Henry packs a hefty Pipeline thumper. Photo by Noyle

Earlier this year we profiled Indonesian longboarder Deni Firdaus, who hones his timeless style near his small fishing village in Java. Firdaus is quickly becoming a world-class logger, despite being worlds away from any traditional longboarding scene. Photo by Kharismawan

This image of Mason Ho tucked inside an Indonesian drainer was displayed in this year’s Big Issue, in the photo feature “Peaking: Standout moments in the lives of waves (and the surfers who ride them)” Photo by D’orey

For the making of the April Issue, we sat down with Australian surf legend Nat Young and talked about his past and the things he’s learned throughout his career. “Give respect to gain respect,” he told us, not long before our photo editor Grant Ellis snapped this breathtaking photo of Young. “Whether it’s towards a wave, a woman, or someone of a different race, you have to be respectful. This is even more important now, as there are more people surfing and more people on the planet.” Photo by Ellis

Just after securing his first world title, John Florence spoke to editor Todd Prodanovich about how he put together the best competitive year of his life (at the time), and how a champion’s work is never really done. This photo of Florence laying down the hammer near his home on Oahu was featured in the exclusive interview and exemplifies how Florence is one of the most electric surfers to watch both in an out of a jersey. Photo by Frieden

“The Serpentine Pact”, featured in our April Issue, is a modern twist on a classic SURFER adventure tale and tells the story of how Mick Fanning found his own private Superbank following a tip from an old friend.

While we’d all surely prefer surfing perfect waves all the time, sometimes the weird fun of surfing a novelty wave is irresistible. Take this backwash catapult (featured on the cover of our May issue) at a normally manageable East Coast break, for example, which Balaram Stack found himself strangely drawn to. “I had been to this wave and had something like this happen before, but I’ve never seen that big of an explosion,” says Stack. “I saw the section coming and thought, ‘Here we go.’ I just held on and got shot, like, 10 feet into the air. It was like something out of a ‘Planet Earth’ episode, where I was watching 60-foot explosions happen every other minute.” Photo by Nelson

We had the opportunity to showcase the portfolio of the talented surf photographer Kenny Hurtado earlier this year. In the pages of our September issue, Hurtado’s photographs (like the one above) embody, in his words, “surfing's subcultural aspects, and how the environment, the landscape, and light shape that.” Photo by Hurtado

This photo of the young, hard-charging Russell Bierke ran as a “Perfect Day” spread in our June Issue. "This was the first swell of the year, and for a week there were good waves forecasted, but every morning it just wasn't quite right," says Bierke about this NSW Pipe impersonator. "On the last day of the swell, we were all feeling pretty defeated, but we woke up pre-dawn to give it one more look. I got to the checkout spot in the dark and saw the silhouette of a huge wave spit and knew it was on. I spent the morning trading barrels and beatdowns with a crew of good mates. It was a great start to the season, especially since this wave hadn't broken properly in a year. Looking back on it, I'd say it's nearly the best session I've ever had out there."

Kelly Slater's freakish natural talent made him the face of surfing in the early '90s, and every surfer with access to magazines and VHS tapes fell firmly into his sphere of influence. Slater disciples emulated his every move, from the boards he was riding to the high-performance maneuvers he was laying down in the latest Taylor Steele movie. Two decades, 11 world titles, and one wave pool later, the GOAT is still drawing beautiful lines in front of the lens (as seen in this photo, which graced the cover of our June issue) and is just as influential as ever. Photo by Glaser

For his 25th surf film, titled “Proximity”, Taylor Steele took four surfers who defined style, performance, and bravado for the past few decades and paired them with four surfers who carry those same torches today. We featured the conversations the surfers had with each other throughout their trips in our June issue, along with the many beautiful photographs Todd Glaser took throughout the filming process. In this photo, Rob Machado and Craig Anderson break down the lessons learned from life in perpetual motion while on set for the filming of Taylor Steele’s movie “Proximity” in Chile. Photo by Glaser

Each issue of SURFER produced in 2017 opened with a quote from a top-notch surfer who helped sum up the theme we were exploring each month. For our June issue, we profiled and interviewed the unique individuals who have shown us new ways to think about the culture of surfing and the ever-stylish Dion Agius gave us insight into who helped shape his career as a surfer. "Growing up, my biggest influence was definitely Ozzie Wright, “says Dion, pictured here. “He'd do these massive airs in small waves, but then he'd also charge 10-foot death pits on dry reef. Watching his movie parts, I was blown away and wanted to surf like that." Photo by Respondek

For our Big Issue photo feature, this POV photo of an Indo screamer served as the perfect opening spread. Photo by D’Orey

Yadin Nicol, high above the lip in Bali and deep within the pages of Volume 58, Issue Number 4. Photo by Frieden

Mikey Wright was arguably one of the most exciting surfers to watch in 2017 and made many appearances in the pages of our magazine this year. Wright, slotted somewhere in Western Australia. Photo by Shield

Joel Parkinson has been featured in the glossy pages of surf magazines for over a decade and his silky style will probably continue to pervade for the next 10 years. Parko, on rail in New South Wales. Photo by Grambeau

Our idea of what is surfable is constantly evolving. Decades ago, a wave like the one Jay Davies is deeply slotted inside (which landed the cover of this year’s Big Issue) might have seemed like an impossibly steep, unrideable slab. But now, after years of intrepid chargers and shapers collectively pushing the limits in tube-riding technique and board design, surfers like Davies are able to redefine what is possible and write new chapters in the lives of the world’s most intimidating waves. Photo by Feast

Stylish twin-finner Torren Martyn, dropping in deep at one of the Solomon Islands’ many perfect reef setups. Earlier this year we traveled with Martyn to the Solomon Islands to report on how sea-level rise is affecting the tiny archipelago. This striking photo served as the feature’s opening spread. Photo by Craig

Martyn, slotted below sea level. While on location for the “Drowning Isles” feature, Martyn and photographer Ryan Craig sampled some of the many idyllic reef passes situated throughout the Solomon Islands. Photo by Craig

In contrast to overly congested surf destinations like Bali or Hawaii, Papua New Guinea (PNG) still remains relatively uncrowded. Waves like the one pictured here (and on one of the final spreads in our October issue) aren’t a rare sight along the country’s 3,200-mile coastline. Although the remoteness of the place has helped to curb overcrowding, PNG’s progressive surf-management plan has also played an important role in keeping surf tourism in check. In PNG, coastal residents own the reefs that front their communities, and years ago, the Surfing Association of Papua New Guinea instituted a strategy that required visiting surfers to pay for each surf session. This policy, which also limits the number of surfers allowed at each surf spot, economically benefits locals who take care of their land and their reef, ultimately incentivizing them to keep waves like this as pristine as possible. Photo by Peel

For our October issue, we put together a collection of images that readers can live vicariously through. Here’s Dan Ross, enviously slotted in Scotland. Photo by MacKinnon

For our “Underdogs” issue, we took aim at stories of people who have managed to carve fascinating paths in surfing against tough odds. Just before this photo was taken, we talked to Keala Kennelly about her past, her career and what advice she would give to younger surfers looking to make it in the world of surfing. Photo by Hook

Michael February, enjoying ample headroom in Cape Town, South Africa, from the pages of Volume 58, Issue Number 6. Photo by Fox

It might be hard to discern from an aerial perspective, but this wave in New Zealand (featured in our October issue) isn't exactly a world-class spot. According to surf photographer Rambo Estrada, out of all the breaks located along the North Island's east coast, this one is far from being the star. But even the worst waves can have their day in the sun. "Usually the beach is just a weak little closeout," says Estrada. "But occasionally, on the right conditions, it can spark up some perfect little wedges. On this day in particular, there were fun A-frames up and down the beach and no one was even out." Photo by Estrada

For our December issue, we profiled some of the hardest-charging slab surfers in Australia. Dan Ryan, pictured here and on the opening spread of the feature, may not be a household name in surfing, but he certainly possesses the unique blend of grit, courage and insanity that it takes to charge the bottomless slabs of Australia. Photo by Ord

Everything we love about great surf imagery. Somewhere in New Zealand. Photo by Estrada

[Top image: This photo served as the cover of our September issue and was taken during the Jack O’Neil paddle out by our own Peter Taras]