For decades, professional surf photography has typically been seen as a man's game. Why? There's no reason at all that men should dominate the surf-shooting business. But like any other field, once it's been established as a boy's club, breaking through the testosterone-saturated walls isn't easy. Thankfully, those walls are steadily eroding. Today, more women photographers than ever before find artistic angles on idyllic point surf, or swim out to sketchy heavy-water breaks, hulking waterhousing in hand while they dodge mutant sets. And when it comes to female surfing specifically, who better to document the evolution of women in the lineup than their fellow women? The following gallery celebrates the best work from these photographers, with their lenses keenly trained on the bold present era of female surfing.
Kala'iku Delovio in a carefree trim line at Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, captured by Sarah Lee. "I've always just done my own thing, gone with the flow, and invested my work and time into places, people, and situations that vibe with me so my attention has never really been consumed by the thought of being a 'woman within a male-dominated profession,'" says Lee. "I think women just need to focus on entertaining their curiosities and doing and cultivating what they love, and if it happens to be surf photography then just give it a go and see what takes hold."
Beach days with Quincy Davis. Photo by Luki O'Keefe.
Wrenna Delgado, Polly Ralda and Silvia Nabuco, eyes on the Waimea prize. Photo by Maria Fernanda Bastidas
Rosie Jaffurs with toes well and truly over the nose. Photo by Tara Michie.
World Tour standout Coco Ho, slicing for the lens of Magdalena Kernan. "The girls I shoot with have always been so supportive of me which has always made me feel so comfortable in the water," says Kernan. "I remember the first time I swam at Snapper, I went with Nikki van Dijk and she was taking the time to tell me where to go and where to sit and was just encouraging me the whole time. There are definitely guys who are supportive, but it's not the same when you have female friends who are there supporting you and cheering you on."
Kelta O'Rourke, bombs away at Waimea Bay. Photo by Maria Fernanda Bastidas
Honolua Blomfield, styling her way past photographer Alana Spencer.
Sally Fitzgibbons, finding plenty of headroom in a yawning Ours tube, captured by Shannon Glasson. "I've never seen myself as being different from the guys," says Glasson. "Yeah, guys have said things like, 'Wow, I didn't expect a chick to be out here [at places like Ours],' and I think that's because girls feel they don't belong out there—but they do belong. Hopefully over the next few years, the numbers will even out in terms of guys and girls out in the lineup."
From left to right: Leah Dawson, Shae Bird Conti, Lauren Bosworth, Erin Yamamoto, Carly Wilson, Jianca Lazarus, Leane Darling Horton, Macy Price Ciszek, Bunny, Paki and Anna Santoro. "I try to fool myself into thinking that gender doesn't matter, but you create from who you are," says Lazarus, who created this image. "And gender is an essential part of your identity."
Karina Rozunko, up and over. Photo by Sarah Lee
Leah Dawson, seen here at Rocky Point, draws an elegant line for photographer Christa Funk. "Now is certainly a good time to be a woman in the water and I'm happy to be a part of it," says Funk. "It's nice to see women supporting each other and working together. I'm glad I started when I did. I haven't had to carve a path as a woman trying to fit into the surf industry from scratch, because I'm already on the path paved by the women that have come before me. What matters now is the quality of my work, not whether I'm in a bikini or boardshorts, and I'm incredibly grateful for that."
A moment of serenity with Rosie Jaffurs, captured by Luki O'Keefe "I think being a girl definitely affects the way you capture women's surfing," says O'Keefe. "I started shooting photos because I wanted to create photos of my friends that male photographers weren't taking. Because I'm a girl, I know the angles that my friends like and I know how to highlight the feminine aspects of their surfing."
[This gallery is featured in SURFER Vol. 59, Issue 3]