Follow The Light Finalists Announced

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SURFING photo editor and Follow the Light judge Peter Taras discuss this year's front-runners, digital vs. film and the man who inspired the grant -- Larry "Flame" Moore

Interview by Taylor Paul

And the press release goes:

"This year's installment of young visionaries include: Quincy Dein from Maui, Matt Kurvin from Santa Cruz, Ricky Lesser from Manhattan Beach, Duncan Macfarlane from Australia and Carlos Santana from Anaheim. The winner of the $5,000 grant will be announced during the US Open of Surfing at the Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach on August 2..."

And then it quotes Peter Taras saying how much he loved this year's photos. He did, he really did. But we wanted more than a single-serving sound bite. So we talked with Peter about this year's submissions for the surf-photography grant with a Simon Cowell-like ability of discovering talent. This is what he said:

Peter Taras:

This year's competition had some of the strongest overall submissions I have seen since I've been on the FTL board. Plus, this year there was strong support for all film-influenced slideshows, which was super cool and refreshing to check out. Overall just an amazing batch of submissions from everyone.

I can't stress enough how versatile so many of the slideshows were. In previous year's, Chris Burkard won on the strength of his landscape photography. Ray Collins won on the strength of his water photography. Morgan Maassen won on his unorthodox approach, you know? And this year it made the judging really hard because the submissions were so well rounded.

The color correction this year was really good too. I'm still not sure how that plays a part in the judging, but I think it plays a role with all the judges. Not sure if that's a good or a bad thing. Still, 10 years after the inception of digital to mainstream media, everyone is trying to figure that out. When you shoot film, you're loading a roll of film into a camera that you think will give you a certain look when you get it back from the lab. It's going to have the feeling automatically embedded into it -- it's going to pop out and it's going to have a life of it's own. It's going to feel like something. It's going to have a name. Whereas with digital when you get it back it's just this blank canvas and it's up to you to make the mood pop. I think we're all still struggling with what to do with those blank canvases. But this year's competitors did a great job with it.

As a photo editor Larry really put life and energy into every photographer that contributed to SURFING magazine for the thirty-plus years that he worked here. He was really good at motivating photographers and helping them along the way.

This grant is to try to convey Larry's message and pass on his energy, help kids and motivate them to hopefully become photographers for a magazine. And the winner get's $5000 so that's automatically going to give whoever wins the grant a little bit of a start, whether it's paying rent or doing a couple of cheap trips. It's like a push out of the gates.