Big Wave Hunting

Incredible Shots of Larger-Than-Life Surf

Big Wave Hunting

Spontaneous Surf Shoots

This photo was taken in Peahi (aka Jaws), Maui in October 2012, during the early season for big waves. I was following the forecast at home and was surprised when I checked the buoys report — a solid-size swell had developed with good wind conditions. I decided at the last minute to take the trip and ended up having to buy a first-class ticket to get to Jaws the next morning. Once I landed, I headed straight to the harbor where I had a ski waiting for me. Two hours later, I was shooting this historic paddle session with champion surfer Shane Dorian at Jaws.

Twilight Surfer

Early morning in Sumatra with the Oakley team. We jumped in the water before the sun came up to capture some flash photos. Pro surfer Adriano De Souza dropped in on a larger wave during a nice set. At that point I knew I should move to get out of the impact zone but I didn’t want to miss the quick shot. I am so glad I stayed where I was because I scored this amazing angle with the sunrise in the background. But my intuition was correct — just after this photo was taken I got pounded by the wave. It was worth it for this gem of a photo.

Red Code

I’ll never forget this day. I’ve been following the big swells of Teahupoo since 2006, but I’ve never read charts like they were on that day. They called it Red Code and I was not going to miss it for anything. The massive swells were so intense that they called off the Billabong Pro Tahiti and the Coast Guard closed the marina. Still, some of the bravest big rider surfers took the risk and charged these impressive waves and conditions. In this shot, when I saw the wave developing, it was ugly and massive. I had never seen such beastly waves in my life. When Everaldo "Pato" Teixeira dropped it looked as if the wave was going to eat him. He was able to keep his cool, holding his position and riding the wave that defied the odds.

The Swell of the Decade

Fiji, August 2012, Tavarua Island. All the perfect big wave surfing factors came into play — swell size, direction and the wind dropped and switched offshore, treating us to big waves and the perfect barrels. Big wave riders came from all over the world for the best conditions Cloudbreak had ever seen.

Dream Wave

This photo always reminds me of when I was young and would daydream about big waves and draw the perfect barrel on my notebook.

My Gear

As a surf photographer I need reliable — and waterproof — protection for my gear. I built my own custom water housing for my camera, lens and flashes. I only trust SanDisk for my memory cards.

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Fred Pompermayer

Fred Pompermayer is an award-winning photographer specializing in extreme action sports.
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