Behind the lens: Grant Ellis

The Surfer Magazine photographer gives us an inside snapshot of the pro circuit.

A lifelong surfer, photographer Grant Ellis has found the next best thing to going pro; capturing iconic images of his beloved sport for Surfer Magazine. "I have always loved the ocean and this job was a way to make sure I was always connected to it," he says. "I think most people that have spent a lot of time in the ocean almost need it after a few weeks; without salt water, you start to feel strange." The South African-born Ellis currently lives in Cardiff by the Sea, California, but travels the globe to shoot the industry's biggest names and the world's most epic swells. In the slideshow below, he shares the stories behind some of his favorite shots.

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  • Andy Irons, J-Bay

    Andy Irons, J-Bay

    "This is one of my favorite images of three-time world champ Andy Irons. He was one of the greatest surfers of all time and sadly passed away in 2011. He was a great guy and an amazing talent."

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  • The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

    The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

    "This is Oli Adams and Tom Doige-Harrison, making their way down a slippery track to a jump-off rock for the paddle out to a big wave surf spot in Ireland called Aileens. It's the surf below the Cliffs of Moher and one of the most dramatic backdrops for a surf spot I have ever seen."

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  • Jeremy Flores, Reunion Island

    Jeremy Flores, Reunion Island

    "This is a close-up action image from Reunion Island during an early morning free surf before the Hurley Pro held at Lower Trestles in California. I love the light and water color in this image."

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  • Rob Machado, Mentawai Islands

    Rob Machado, Mentawai Islands

    "Rob Machado is a master of all crafts. This is him waxing up a 1970's single fin on a boat in the Mentawai Islands, about to take it out."

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  • Taylor Knox, Indonesia

    Taylor Knox, Indonesia

    "Taylor is one of the fittest and most powerful surfers on the planet and was still competing on the World Tour at age 40. He just retired, but this shot was taken last year on a trip to Indonesia."

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  • Coco Ho + Laura Enever

    Coco Ho + Laura Enever

    "This is a candid shot taken of Coco Ho and Laura Enever, two top girls that compete on the women's world tour. They were about to paddle out for a warm up surf before the first big event of the year, the Roxy Pro on the Gold Coast of Australia. Laura always seems to be having a great time no matter what the situation, and she loves hamming it up for the camera. Which makes my job easy."

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  • Danny Fuller, Pipeline

    Danny Fuller, Pipeline

    "This portrait of Danny Fuller was taken on the beach at Pipeline. Every winter from October to March, surfers gather on the North Shore of Oahu and stay in these beautiful beach houses so they can surf the stretch of beach called the Seven Mile Miracle, which includes Pipeline. Danny was relaxing in a pool made from the water surging up the beach on large swells and I happened to be walking by at the right moment to capture this portrait."

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  • The Mentawai Islands

    The Mentawai Islands

    "Here is Rob again on a regular modern shortboard at a spot called Burgerworld in the Mentawai Islands of Indonesia. The Mentawai Islands are a photographer's dream; amazing backdrops and perfect surf."

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  • Fergal Smith, Ireland

    Fergal Smith, Ireland

    "Fergal Smith is a local Irish surfer who has been surfing this spot since it was discovered a few years ago. This is another one of the many incredible spots I got to see in Ireland."

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  • The Pipe Masters

    The Pipe Masters

    "Kolohe Andino from San Clemente, CA and Dusty Payne from Maui, Hawaii, about to paddle out for a heat at the Pipe Masters, which is the most prestigious event on the world tour calendar. Pipeline is one of the most challenging waves in the world."

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  • Cory Lopez, Nicaragua

    Cory Lopez, Nicaragua

    "Cory Lopez is one of the most energetic surfers I know. This was taken at Colorados in Nicaragua on one of my first trips with Cory. This might have been his third or fourth surf of the day and it wasn't even lunchtime yet."

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