It takes guts to jump in the water when the waves are over 20 feet. This is nothing new for surf photographer Zak Noyle.
A conversation with surf photographer Zak Noyle usually goes something like this:
Question: “Hey Zak, you able to meet up on [insert day]?”
Answer: “Hey, I’m actually in [insert locale] for this swell. Can we reschedule?”
Messages like these are common for Noyle, who has to be ready to pick up and go at the drop of a dime depending on when and where the surf’s good. “I’ve had to reschedule my dentist appointment six times this summer,” says Noyle. “They’ll call to remind me about my appointment, and I’ll be like, ‘Well, I’m in Tahiti right now. Can we reschedule for Monday?’ But still, there’s no guarantees … you have to be ready to go, passport out, bags packed.”
Despite coming from a family of photographers (his father is a well-known commercial photographer and his grandfather shot aerial photography during WWII), Noyle says he only seriously began delving into photography six years ago.
In just a few years, he quickly established himself as the world’s premiere surf photographer. Whether you surf or not, looking at one of his shots quickly propels you into his watery world; deep walls of glass barreling clear overhead pull you in, while expansive landscapes punctuated by aerial maneuvers make you sit back in awe.
At just 27 years old, Noyle has a resume that reads like a seasoned pro: senior staff photographer at Surfer magazine; international ad campaign for Chanel’s Homme Sport fragrance; the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau in 2009, which he describes as one of his most memorable moments to date.
Though he wasn’t the first pick for the job, he was the only photographer willing to shoot in the water – the only one willing to come face to face with Waimea Bay’s gigantic 20-foot-plus waves.
For the full interview, check out the Surf issue on a newsstand near you.