Photographer and Cinematographer Caught Black Surfers


“We’ve worked with strong swimmers, people who know the sport, who can predict where the surfers are going,” said Ms. Hopkins.

All in all, each of the three shots went smoothly and the surfers were lucky to find the waves even though the conditions were different. It was a perfect sunny day and a cloudy morning in California; It was cloudy, rainy and windy in New York.

Mr. Kissi worked mainly on the beach, caring for his subjects, although he occasionally went into the water. Mr. Maassen first swam in the water with the surfers, had his waterproof camera handy, and sometimes jumped on a board himself.

“I could go on and on about all these limitations and how extreme they were and how hard it was and how bold and crazy and dramatic it was that I did,” said Mr. Maassen. “But in reality, it’s very simple.” He pointed out that the limitations imposed by this working environment actually partially relieved the pressure of making a “perfect” shot. “It really becomes a place where your ability to swim and your ability to be inspired and get what you want meet,” he said.

Mr. Kissi and Mr. Maassen’s approach resulted in film and photography creating a smooth and intimate experience that transports the audience through the waves. Mr. Kissi said he was proud to re-present what he calls “a new, rich dictionary of visual images, not just of people who swim, but those that thrive in the water and not just survive.”

As discussed in the text of Diane Cardwell’s article, whose surfing-related memoir “Rockaway” was recently received by Netflix as producer and star with Kerry Washington, there is a bad stereotype that Blacks don’t or don’t swim. Do not participate in water activities. As a package, this piece provides an alternative look.

“We see this as an opportunity to make a significant contribution to the image canon of Black surfers,” said Ms Hopkins. “We wanted to bring powerful and evocative images that would go beyond this story and be seen by generations to come.”


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