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So this is what retirement looks like these days.

Not long ago retirement for a surfer meant the Pipe dream of a desert island, a few coconut trees, an island wife and a perfect wave out in front of a grass shack. But then…even when the G-land discoverers had it in the palm of their hands, they still managed to screw it all up. No, the new alpha Pro males have a whole new take on it. A whole new world.

Just like Taj Burrow in the photo above. Seen here at his recent win at the Komune Bali Pro just after his retirement announcement.

Here he is at 37. A top pro surfer for over 18 years with contest prize money earnings of almost USD2,000,000. To say nothing of his Sponsorship deals worth millions more. Here he is poolside, the lovely wife, the new daughter and a newly purchased mansion perched on the cliffs of Western Australia overlooking Rabbit Hill, his favorite surf spot.

But the thing is, as talented as Taj Burrow is, none of this ever would have happened without surf photographers. In a poolside conversation with Taj, he stated that as hard as he could think back, he could not remember a single surf session for the last 18 years that was not photographed or filmed. Not a single one. It’s almost as if Pro surfers these days have a 24 hour dedicated drone. But these moments are not covered by drones. They are covered by talented human beings with an eye for the drama of a professional athletic career. Like embedded war journalists and their relationships with soldiers, these photographers are among the top pro surfers closest friends. So much time and effort and adventures they share. And these photos they capture. Not always peak action in the surf, but also quiet moments like the one above. A father, a mother a child. Success and survival personified. Winners on the evolutionary stage. Funny how a big Hollywood movie will be credited to the Director. Like The Godfather: a Martin Scorcese Film. When in fact Marty didn’t write it, score it, act in it…he was just there…directing it. Perhaps this kind of credit should be given to our top flight surf photographers.

Kelly Slater: A Taylor Steele career.

So it is in this respect that we offer in this issue the best photos we have ever published. Starting with Diogo D’orey’s masterpiece on the cover of the biggest barrel ever photographed on Bali, to Madede’s perfect expression of happiness with Bronson Meidy, to Russel Ord’s images of places that most mortals would never consider.

Photography. Photographers. For a moment, let us give thanks. Yes, it is the artist’s choice to convey rather than to participate, but in that is a nobility, a creativity, a formidable intelligence that re-creates our world in living colors. Painting our dreams, our ambitions, our very lives as surfers.

Photographers and their photography. Inside our heads forever. Like music, Photography is the only other language that can be understood anywhere on earth.

Photography is stories that people cannot put into words.

After all, Photography, the art of observation, has very little to do with what you see.

But it has everything to do with how you see it.

– Editor –

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