Sniffing for a digital copy of our May 2014 issue? Discover it here.

Can I Take Your Order?

Getting a magazine in your mailbox is like having a meal served to you at a restaurant. In the same way that most of us don't stop and consider why the chef chose a certain cut of meat or put cranberries on the salad, you usually don't overanalyze the magazine you're reading. You ordered it because you're hungry and it suits your taste. You consume it and are left satisfied. Check, please.

We want to open up the kitchen a bit this month. Give you a closer look at how SURFING is made [see Out On Set, Pg. 64] but also explore some people and events that are influencing the surf world today, like the three Aussies on Pg. 76, and that messy Fukushima situation, which Chas Smith investigates as only he can on Pg. 88.

When you're admiring the images that accompany these stories, know that each one is there for a reason. As an image-driven magazine, each photograph is meticulously chosen and laid out to build the best product available, and it starts every month like this:

After an initial edit on Photo Editor Peter Taras' computer, the wall adjacent to my office is covered floor-to-ceiling with more than 100 images. There's a box of pushpins on the floor and a ladder to reach the top. Once they're all on display, the staff gathers around and stares. Image by image, article by article, we nitpick the shit out of everything based on criteria that I had no clue existed before I started working at SURFING.

First and foremost, of course, we look at the merit of the maneuver. (Is the air high enough? Is the surfer actually on rail? If it's a sequence, what is "the moment"?) But we also look at "pacing," or how a particular photo works with or against the surrounding images (Are there three frontside air-reverse spreads in a row?). We look at image quality (Is the photo sharp?). We look at balance (Are there too many photos of one maneuver in the magazine? Not enough?). For example, in this issue we swapped some photos at the 11th hour to incorporate a couple more "high-action" sequences into the magazine. Like food, each person has a distinct taste for what constitutes a good photo,for what makes good surfing. Some photos are slam dunks and others we discuss at length. We negotiate. We reason. Sometimes we raise our voices. But it's all part of the process that starts by looking at a single image and widening the scope to look at how the image helps or hinders what we're trying to accomplish with a particular article, in a particular magazine, in a particular volume. At the end of the month there is a pile of ripped printouts and chipped pushpins scattered about the floor, and the 30 to 40 photos that remain look very proud.

Tomorrow we will start the process over again, putting up photos for the issue you'll be enjoying next month. Barrels. Airs. Turns. Lineups. Lifestyle. We'll mix together just the right amount of photographic ingredients (with some delicious words and design, of course) so we can serve you something you can't wait to devour. Bon appétit. — Taylor Paul

Inside this Issue

Out On Set

Pg. 64 Out On Set

Magazine trips don't make themselves. They require planning, wrangling, searching, waiting, a little bit of gambling and if all goes well — scoring. Associate Editor Zander Morton knows a thing or two about the Caribbean and mag-making, and pens a behind-the-scenes-look at two trips. Featuring: Eric Geiselman, Oliver Kurtz, Luke Davis, Michael Dunphy, Bree Kleintop and Quincy Davis.
Photography by Jimmicane.

Down Under Up and Up

Pg. 76 Down Under Up and Up

Devoted big-wave globe-trotter Jamie Mitchell. The most sought-after 19-year-old Aussie phenom, Noa Deane. And the Mitch you didn't expect to qualify first (Crews). Get the candid backstory on Jamie's Belharra paddle-in, Noa's meteoric ascent and Crewsie's career-defining promotion.

Well, Fuk

Pg. 88 Well, Fuk

Apocalypse, butterflies and sushi — oh, my! Is the ongoing Fukushima disaster as horrible as everyone says it is? Is the Pacific Ocean rife with radiation? SURFING's editor at living large, Chas Smith, investigates and asks qualified professors, scientists and physicists if it's safe to surf and swim in the Pacific. Meanwhile Zeke Lau, Anthony Walsh and Cheyne Magnusson just rush it and see what happens — the waves in Japan were too good not to.
Photography by Brent Bielmann.