It’s hard to believe Santa Barbara’s Morgan Maassen has only been shooting photos for 10 years. Maassen, a lifelong surfer, began his foray into photography as a teenager when he decided to pair his passions and began pointing his lens at the ocean.
He quickly became one of the best surf photographers in the world. But for Maassen, surf photography – and the surf world – was just one small piece of a much bigger picture. It wasn’t long before Maassen was photographing for ESPN’s Body Issue, jaunting around the world for National Geographic and shooting campaigns for some of the biggest brands in the world: Apple, Delta Airlines, Corona … the list goes on.
But no matter where his career has or will take him, Maassen will never outgrow surf. It’s just that the way he captures the sport is evolving.
“Surfing is the backbone of my work and connects every dot of my life, passion and career,” Maassen tells us. “But, as the years have transpired, an unexpected thing has happened: While it’s been a slow and steady shift, I’ve seen my lens drift away from the peak performances of Kelly Slater and Dane Reynolds, and in the direction of Stephanie Gilmore and Josie Prendergast instead.”
Maassen is drawn to photographing women’s surfing for a variety of reasons. “It’s not just a single thing,” Maaseen continues. “I just began to realize that the biggest air or longest barrel no longer captivated my attention, and instead, I’ve become captivated most by the dance of women on waves. For me, the pinnacle of surfing is expressed by style, not in maneuvers. As I reflect on my first decade as a photographer and reminisce on all of the subject matter that has captured the attention of my lens around the world, none stands out more than the grace of a woman surfing.”
“From the jungles of Mexico to the atolls of Indonesia, I’ve pushed myself to document as many women as possible, across all walks of life, riding any board necessary,” Maassen continues. “And the end result of all of that was finding gratification in my photography, and a true understanding of how beautiful the sport of surfing really is. Women’s surfing is something I’ll continue to photograph forever, and when I look back on what I’ve captured already, I cherish it deeply.”
The following 19 images are some of Maassen’s favorites so far.
All captions by Maassen.
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