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For whom the swell tolls
Do surfers really pee in their wetsuits? If anyone knows it will be Mickey Smith, surfer, musician, filmmaker, photographer and now judge of the relentless energy photography competition happening at this year's Sea Sessions Surf and Music Festival in Bundoran this June.
Anne Sexton, 24 Jun 2011
“Hehehe!” laughs Mickey Smith. “Some of us do, some of us don’t – I’m someone who does.”
In fairness, he has been telling Hot Press about surfing in Iceland. In extreme weather conditions anything that helps you to keep warm is surely a good thing.
“It’s pretty cold up there,” he says, which has got to be something of an understatement. “It was a kind of out-there experience – being around ice and waves at the same time. It’s not really dangerous, but it is pretty bizarre.”
Smith grew up in Cornwall and began surfing and taking photographs from the age of nine. He’s a lucky man, having managed to combine his great creative passions – filmmaking and photography – with surfing. He’s worked as a photographer with surf magazines and last year released a short film, Dark Side Of The Lens.
“I’ve always been experimenting with cameras, making weird little movies when I was young. Dark Side Of The Lens was pretty well-received. It was a pretty cool little thing.”
“Pretty well received” is not exactly true. Dark Side Of The Lens won the Surfer’s Poll award and ‘Best Short’ in the Relentless Energy Short Stories series of short films. Although Smith is regarded as something of a legend in surf circles, he is modest to a fault. As he tells it, his career was something of an accident.
“I never went into it as a career, it just happened that way. I started documenting my travels and experiences in the sea. Magazine editors started approaching me and if I was travelling with different groups of surfers, the surfers would pass on a few of my shots to their sponsors and sometimes they’d want to use them. Then I started travelling for it as a career. It’s surprised me for sure, I’m still waiting for someone to pull the rug out from under me!”
It must be frustrating for a surfer, Hot Press muses, to be filming or photographing waves instead of riding them.
“Yeah, definitely! But I kind of focus on bigger waves anyway. A lot of the time, swimming around and documenting waves like that is what I feel I’m good at doing, where I feel comfortable, I guess. There are times when the waves look really special and you wish you could be surfing. If I feel like that I’ll put down the camera – some waves are just too special to miss!”