Both Surf Shacks Volume 1 and 2 have taken roughly four years to complete. Do you feel that this project demands that time frame or was that random?
Honestly it was completely random. These books have been a side/passion project for me for the past 8 years. They don’t come with a budget so they’re on my own time and my own dime. I kind of just shoot stuff here and there when I can. In both Vol. 1 and 2 four years just seemed like the time where I had enough content to really make the book. I signed the contract with the publisher back in March and after COVID hit it became really challenging to get the last few features for the book. Thankfully my friends came through with my friend Jesse (who was actually in the first book) shooting The Goodwin family on Kaui and my buddy Reed capturing both Cynthia Rowley and Robert McKinley’s Montauk homes. Thankfully it all came together in time for the end of 2020.
The book covers 41 people (including yourself) with astonishing diversity given the small sample size. How do you go about identifying your subjects?
I definitely have a mental list of people I want to include, but honestly, most of the people come from shooting one person’s home and them saying “oh you should really include this person!” Those organic introductions are what really allow the book to come together in the way that it does.
When it came down to curating the book diversity of subjects and locations was definitely something I was trying to be conscious of. With our deadline being the end of this year it was difficult to include all of the different home types, people, and locations I wanted to, but I’m always striving to round out all factors however I can.
NY, Florida and California are all prototypical places for these ‘surf shacks’ to exist. Are certain neighborhoods predisposed to attracting the types of like minded people willing to create these surf centered homes or is the environment more a product of the characters themselves? What came first, the chicken or the egg?
Absolutely, within the U.S. those are common places to find such homes and thus they’re probably slightly over-featured in the book. This is also somewhat a product of my own limitations of not being able to go everywhere (although my trip to Japan with my good friend Dario was allowed for some great captures).
When you look at Venice and Montauk those are both communities that artists have taken a chance on and moved to because of their geographic location and/or natural landscape. Venice was near the beach, had cheap rent and is in the middle of LA. Whenever you see artists concentrate in one area like that you generally see a transformation of the neighborhood really quickly, so I guess that’d be the chicken?
You see a stark contrast between both the homes and lifestyle of some of your subjects, most notably between Aamion Goodwin’s Hawaiin treehouse and Hayden Cox’s white walled modern. Outside of the obvious structural and stylistic differences what is the common thread between the physical places these surfers occupy?
The common thread between all the people in Surf Shacks are they’re all creatives. I always tell people it’s not so much about the houses as it is the people. People are always like “you should get this persons house, it’s so nice,” but it’s not about just having a “nice” house. I’m looking for artists, filmmakers, and designers, etc. that also surf. I could care less if they rip so long as they channel that creative personality that inspires me and hopefully everyone else who picks up the book.
Throughout all of the homes in Vol. 2 what’s the best quiver you’ve encountered?
That one’s easy, Charles Adler has literally hundreds of pre transition era longboards from California. His house didn’t have a ton of surfboards in them but then you get to his garage and, wow. They were all in individual board bags and it took over 3 hours to pull these boards out of the garage to get one shot from his roof. The picture looks like the garage just puked out boards.
Ahh I was hoping you’d say Tony Caramonico! He pushed me into my first wave.
He takes the cake for East Coast quivers that’s for sure.
And whose abode did you find most eclectic?
Also easy. Peter Schroff’s house in Venice (before the E.A.S.T. winner moved to his San Pedro home featured in our Shaper Profile) was amazing. He’s crazy in a beautiful way. A provacateur by nature, he’s a sweetheart in real life and shooting his home was quite the experience.
And the house you most coveted?
I don’t know about coveted, but the one I’d most like to live in would be a toss up between Jeff and Kara Johnson’s A-frame in the hills of Santa Barbara or the McKinley Bungalow in Montauk and the Goodwin’s Kaui compound. If I had a ton of money I’d have no problem just buying those three and rotating amongst them.
You finished Surf Shacks Vol. 1 in 2015 right around when you started your garage redo, which closes out Vol. 2. Did you channel any specific homes from Vol. 1 and if so how much inspiration did you take and from who.
So we’ve actually just moved north to Oxnard. I lived in my Mar Vista home for close to 13 years and while finishing Vol. 2 I knew we would be moving. Including it as the last piece of this book was just a great way to preserve the process of renovating.
In terms of inspiration, I didn’t take anything specific from any one home exactly although I must say that the whitewashed cedar was directly inspired by The Crows Nest in Montauk. My brother had just gotten his masters in architecture and he and my wife took the reins on the interior design, so I just kind of got to sit back while my brother turned our garage into his own house — which became our (sensational) guest house after he moved back east.
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