Captions by Dave Nelson

Every artist secretly yearns to leave an indelible mark on their craft. A dissertation for an academic. An opus for a musician. The Great American novel for a writer… But for those true masters of a métier, like legendary Santa Cruz surf photographer Dave “Nelly” Nelson, who’s turned and burned so many masterpieces for the international surf media community throughout his illustrious career, at this point an indelible mark might seem somewhat redundant.

Lucky for us, Nelly went ahead and did a book anyway.

Book One in Nelly’s elegant new, self-published series, Dual Perspective, delivers in 185 pages or so a “visual narrative with insight by world renowned surf photographer Dave Nelson” — along with perspective from Nelly’s subjects (hence the title), mostly surfers who’ve served as his muses for the better part of the last quarter-century. (Check it out here.)

“These are some of my shots from around the world that I’ve taken over the last 25 years,” Nelly explains. “It took me hundreds if not thousands of hours to edit down all of my photos for this book. This is partly because there are so many, but also because I have ADD and have a really hard time organizing my pictures [laughs]… This book is a compilation of pictures from 25 years of waking up early and swimming out into the sunrise.”

“I’m stoked I got the shot with all my SPL water housings years ago… This was during the experimental flash days and Sean was building me new housings every month for some of our wild-hair ideas.”

“An early-morning Maverick’s bomb unloading. Sometimes these waves just aren’t possible to get into, and this was one of ’em.”

“I did this road trip with Pat Gudauskas through California. I woke him up every morning at 5am. He wasn’t that stoked till he saw all the magic shots we got from those sessions. Then he was psyched!”

“Nathan Fletcher and I have been friends for a long time. We spent so much time skating together that when he told me he wanted to do some bomb drops [surfing], it just made sense. But when I saw some of the cliffs he was talking about, I was like, ‘What, Nate?! You’re tripping!’ He’s like, ‘No way, I got this.’ Some of my best shots and times of my life are from these classic days with Nathan.”

“This shot of [Josh] Mulcoy is a total fluke. He never surfed the Lane, which makes it that much radder. We call Mulcs ‘The President’. Because when he paddles out at The Harbor, he is the guy — no ifs, ands or buts.”

“One of the best surfers in town, Adam Replogle. He’ll keep you laughing with his quick-witted humor and heckles. One of my favorite surfers ever — not only to shoot, but just to watch.”

“Matt ‘Ratt’ Shroedetz used to go on photo missions with me and Bud Freitas when he was a tiny grommet. He didn’t surf; he just liked to hang out. Then one day I saw him rip a wave at the point and was like, ‘What? He’s ready!’ Soon after that, Matt was doing huge airs and became one of my favorite surfers to shoot.”

“Cory [Lopez] and I did a lot of stuff together over the years. He was in Santa Cruz and this was right at the beginning of the experimental flash stuff I was doing with Cory Hansen. We ended up doing a whole flash campaign with BK and O’Neill Wetsuits.”

“This was a really good day out in front of my house. Nic H-Dez and Griffin [Colapinto] called me up and the waves were cracking. Ratboy cruised down, and we paddled out together. I ended up shooting long-lens from a soft-top and kept getting pounded ’cause there was no channel and lots of wide-swinging sets. This is my favorite shot of Griff.”

“Alistair Craft on one of the biggest waves I’ve ever seen ridden at Pescadero Point.”

“Darshan Gooch is a wave magnet and has the sickest style. We went on a little mission this day and scored.”

“Lifestyles [clockwise L to R]: 1. Bob Pearson. 2. Teddy Navarro, Dylan Graves, Kalani Robb. 3. Adam Replogle and Kenzie. 4. Timmy Reyes. 5. John John and my first cover. 6. John and Peter Mel. 7. Nat Young winning the Cold Water. 8. Dane Reynolds.”

“Nathan Fletcher paddled back out (without a leash) after a serious wipeout at Maverick’s.”

“I’d talked to Nelly when I was in Hawaii and asked him what he thought Maverick’s was going to be like on an upcoming swell,” said Fletcher. “‘It’s gonna be all-time I think!’ Nelly said, and I booked my ticket right when we got off the phone. After getting a heavy beating out there — broke my leash and lost my board — I was thinking I was done for the day. But the waves were so good and so glassy, I couldn’t take it anymore! ‘F**k it, I’m out there!’ I didn’t have a leash, so I just decided I’d cruise on a few insiders. I saw this perfect wave coming and couldn’t believe when nobody went, so I just whipped it. I was halfway down the face when the whole bottom dropped out and my nose almost poked. It ended up being my best wave of the day, and when Nelly sent me the shot I was like, ‘what the hell?’ Definitely my favorite Maverick’s shot I’ve ever had. Thanks, Neldawg.”

“One of my favorite surfers and Positive Vibe Warriors: Noah ‘Waggy’ Wegrich.”

“Nate Yeomans comes up and stays with me once or twice a year. He’s like family. Kristy and Kiala love him, and he and Timmy Reyes have their own room at my house.”

“Nat Young is one of SC’s best surfers. His mom Rosy was a legend. Here, Nat launches at a very rare wave in SC.”

“Alek Parker and I scored some epic, glassy tubes. It’s so hard to nail the flash like this. One in a million.”

“The most localized spot in Santa Cruz. I recognize every head in the shot.”

“This Great White washed up right in front of my street. Gary Buthman called me and was like, ‘Get down here, Nelly!’”

“Santiago Hart on one of the biggest swells I’ve ever seen in Santa Cruz. Many guys didn’t make it out. Homer Henard had it to himself all morning.”

“Matt Rockhold did the best stalefishes I’ve ever seen done on a surfboard. Matt was one of my main subjects over the years. We didn’t even need to talk about shots. Somehow we just knew what the other guy was thinking, and linking up in the water was easy.”

“The biggest up-and-comer in SC since Waggy — Sam Coffey is coming in hot. The kid has it all. Huge punts and variations of grabs; he’s also a crazy-good tuberider, and I wouldn’t put it past him to charge some big Mav’s this year with Wilem Banks, either.”

“The biggest wave I’ve ever seen. Buoys were 23 feet at 28 seconds. This wave was at least 80 feet or bigger. Pescadero Point.”

“Kyle Buthman is always doing rad things for others. He’s always filming the best stuff, so many don’t know how hard he rips.”

“Another 5am wake-up with one of my favorite people: Alex Gray. South Bay sunrise.”

x