A 15-year veteran of surf photography, J.P. Van Swae is no stranger to the iconic faces of surf, or the sport’s colorful history. As a third-generation surfer (his surf-pioneering grandfather is Lorrin “Whitey” Harrison and his father is local Laguna Beach, California, legend Jean Pierre “Fly” Van Swae), Van Swae developed a love and deep respect for the ocean and surfing community at an early age.
Moving to the Big Island of Hawaii as an impressionable 8-year-old reinforced an authenticity and admiration that this Southern California native would continually draw from. When he returned to the mainland and current home turf of San Juan Capistrano, California, as a teenager, his passion for surf continued to evolve and included time spent behind the lens.
Van Swae’s formal introduction to surf photography would begin while working with famed lensman and family friend Art Brewer. During those formative years, Van Swae took note of Brewer’s peripheral eye — the way he captured both the surfing lifestyle and the perfect wave.
Eventually Van Swae would attract the attention of another significant voice within the surfing community: SURFER. He’d spend years under the tutelage of talented editorial photographers, his list of mentors reflecting the who’s who among surfing’s photophile elite: Brewer, Jorge Salas, Tom Servais, Jeff Divine, James Cassimus and, of course, Jean Pierre Van Swae. Currently, J.P. Van Swae holds the coveted role of staff photographer for the action-sports division of The Enthusiast Network: TEN.
We had the opportunity to delve into this talented photographer’s extensive archive. This is what he shared.
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