Once a week, for the next five weeks, SURFING will bring you the stories behind each of our senior staff photographers' careers. From where they started to where they are today. They all got their foot into the surf industry’s door the old school way, before Baby Cobras (consider yourself lucky). And to show each tale, ten self-captioned photos are provided for your viewing pleasure.
Week two: From working for the NOAA to becoming a SURFING staff photographer, North Carolina’s DJ Struntz talks through the past ten years of his life.
DJ: In 2000 I was working as a scientist for the National Institute of Standards and Technology and NOAA in Charleston, South Carolina. Before I went to graduate school I took a surf trip with some friends to Mexico and shot photos when I wasn't surfing. After the trip I did a slideshow party and my friends were all really excited about my photos. That got me interested in shooting.
I started contacting magazines, just bombarding photo editors with questions. I moved to Wrightsville Beach and there was this whole crew of sponsored guys that took me under their wing. I would go shoot them when the waves got good. Right around that time I met Aaron Chang, who was pretty inspiring and got me really motivated to shoot while working on my graduate degree in biology. Flame got more and more interested and then Steve Sherman gave me my first color spread in Transworld. Soon after that Pete (Taras) became Photo Editor at Transworld and was like, "Hey can you get some East Coast surfers and do a trip to Nicaragua?" It hadn't been done for a while with modern surfers and Pete said he would pay for me to do the trip. I called him back in 20 minutes with the whole thing laid out. Flame, who I love to death, was a really competitive human and as soon as that feature came out he offered me a job as a staff photographer at SURFING in 2003. And I've been at SURFING ever since.
Write — Shoot — Film — Strike! Click to vote for current Baby Cobras contestants