Mavericks is expecting a huge winter swell. the Sachi Cunningham, famous big-wave surfer 25 miles south from San Francisco is usually up in the She pulls on her wet suit in the pre-dawn darkness and Get her ready with the camera gear
Cunningham, an Ocean Photographer, is in Half Moon Bay at Pillar Point Harbour. the Time the First light strikes. As jet skis pass, the nervous energy can be felt. and The small boat roars to life, and surfers and Their teams are out to the Break, about a mile offshore Cunningham knows all the faces; she’ll often hitch a ride out with the Big-wave surfer Bianca ValentiShe has photographed, for over a decade.
Every one of them. the surfers drop into the Their surfboards were in frigid waters. Cunningham is their guide and Swim around In the lineup. So fluid are her movements — even while holding a 20-pound waterproof camera — that she’s earned the Lance Harriman gave Seal Pup the nickname. Lance is a local surfer.
To understand the Challenges of the Work, picture yourself swimming in a cosmic washing station filled with deadly hazards such as sharks and currents. to You can catch waves that will grow! to 50 feet. Surfers begin to take off from the Peak of the Cunningham awaits your wave and Watches around the Impact Zone, Holding On Long Enough to get the Shot and Be mindful the Her window is closing quickly to Deep dive and Fast enough to escape the hundreds of tons of water She can fall on her head. She’s often a twitcher. the Only photographers can swim in the ocean. the Mavericks water, whether female or male
“You don’t want to get the same shots as everyone else on the boat,” Cunningham stated. “That’s why I swim — or one of the reasons, anyway.”
Seit 2014 she works on a documentary film about the big-wave surfers Valenti, Keala Kennelly, Andrea Möller, and Paige Alms and their fight for equity in the sport. Recently, we spoke about the Obstacles that women face the Even Cunningham, a veteran photographer, can line up for the lineup and These athletes are covered by a filmmaker.
The conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
You started capturing surfers by trying to capture them. to How can you conquer these mountainous water peaks?
A documentary was shown to me as a teenager about the Holocaust. Aaron ChangThis was the pioneer wave in water photography. Years later, I lived in Japan as a student. and You have saved $6,000 to Purchase a new waterproof housing to go with your film camera. Then I was to A small island on the coast the In the south, there were surfers from Tokyo who lived in a small community. and Osaka. Osaka. the Water with this camera was my favorite thing about it. “Oh, this is me. This is where I’m supposed to be.”
Ich bin hingegangen to Documentary film students can attend grad school at University of California Berkeley and I’ve worked in film in Los Angeles and For international shipping PBS Frontline making documentaries. It was a time when I found myself back in. the ocean around the worldLearn more and Learn more about how to I can handle heavy situations.
I am moving back to San Francisco to San Francisco State University 2012: Multimedia journalism and Nami, which means wave in Japanese), was my first child. Bianca and I were introduced shortly thereafter. the Ocean Beach big-wave season and You started to swim with her.
Continue reading the This was the first day of winter swell in Ocean Beach. Bianca in an incredible barrel. It’s a testament to Working together and to This is our 10 year relationship. It’s a dance that you do. You are your surfer partner.
There is a theory that big-wave surfer are different than everyone else.
From my perspective as a water photographer, I’ve seen that many big-wave surfers are drawn to the sport because they have trauma they’re working through by doing what they do. Immersing yourself in big waves is a practice in survival — of being comfortable with and vulnerable to chaos, and Make beauty from chaos and make it yours. I’ve survived my mom’s death from cancer, my own cancer, and There were two bipolar disorder-related hospitalizations that occurred between.
You can only go to the gym for a couple of days each year. the When the swell is right, big-wave communities come together. We all know each other’s superpowers. If you can see someone being backlit the barrel and you’re there kicking like crazy to meet them in that place, it’s electric. Your finger’s in the socket. It’s magic, and it’s exactly where I want to Be there now.
What’s your mind-set and Vorbereitung to go out on a big day, whether it’s at Mavericks or a warm-water spot like Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu
One part the Preparation is key to Deeply inhale the Day before to You can try to You can control the excitement. I swam competitively and In college, I was a water polo player. I’ve had apnea training for big-wave surfing, I’ve done big-wave risk-assessment trainings, I’ve had two decades of training at Ocean Beach on the biggest days. The mind-set is reminding myself that I’ve prepared my whole life for this, that I have the muscle memory.
Just turned 50. I love people to know that what you’re doing now can be laying the groundwork for something you can’t even imagine that you’re going to do in the future.
It is possible to try to get a good night’s sleep, but the reality is that I’m up late getting all my gear together: multiple cameras for shooting photo and Video, charging equipment and hard drives. Two sets of swim fins. An inflatable vest. A helmet. and Back-ups for everything Oh, and Book travel. Coordinate with the surfers and my jet ski or my boat, and My husband and I were involved in arranging child care logistics.
And when you’re in the water?
I’m inspired by the Small animals swim in large waves like these tiny fish surf scoters and sea turtles, what they’re doing to survive. I’m usually thinking of the window of escape — that even if I were plucked and Thrown, I can tell what to do. You can. the most part, I go down to the Very bottom. the The water is still. It’s usually very calm down there.
Ich sehe and Feel things that others might miss. to. Last season, there was a day I noticed these odd sets that were breaking exceptionally wide — wider than the Surfers were anticipating. I was able to get into the I was making them uncomfortable. Minutes later, they made me uncomfortable. the Water, rogue cleanup set just took everyone out. The ocean doesn’t discriminate.
You’ve long pushed For women to Get your due the big-wave-surfing community. What’s your view on how things have changed in the sport, and how they haven’t?
In 2015, these women made it big. to Sabrina Brennan, the former harbor commissioner for San Mateo County. Sabrina was the Ideas to use California law to force organizers to Women are welcome to participate in Mavericks’ surf competition. the California Coastal Commission.
These women were the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing, and This pushed to have pay equity the Global professional surfing tour by the World Surf League. It was huge. Bianca, Keala, Andrea and Paige is ultimately a competitor with one another. It’s a big deal that they came together to Fight for your place the Make sure to have a table set up with organizers of the contest the W.S.L. For inclusion and Equity pay.
While the prizes are now equally, surfing still requires work. to do. Take a look at the world tour — the W.S.L. Allows twice the men to Compete as women The runway isn’t equal, the Development of the bench isn’t equal, and that’s where I see the real work needing to It can be done.
You’re on the The final stage of creating a feature-length documentary on the story behind this long journey. How has that process paralleled what you’ve seen in the sport?
Since I didn’t see any photos of female surfers, I decided to start taking pictures of women riding waves. You don’t have to Learn everything you need to know about competitive surfing to When you look at an image of a woman riding a huge wave, it is likely that the women are not in your vision. the The first time it happens, you will be able to see the limits of human possibility.
These women have fought to protect the rights of others the Chance to You can compete the Same waves andIf they win to Equal prize money to the men. I’m a female filmmaker trying to tell this story — it’s a little wild how hard that has been to do.
Ambition for women is an endurance sport. It’s like that dance photographers do with surfers and waves: We’ve learned how to dance; we’ve made it to the dance floor. Only one thing is missing: to Move on the Lights so that we can begin the party.
Bianca was present at Mavericks’ November opening ceremony. 16-year-old Zoe Chait out to get her first wave. That’s the kind of mentorship I’m advocating. Success is a matter of momentum.