Why Print Matters to Adventure Photographer Ted Grambeau

"I'm passionate about having a legacy and I think print is the best way to have that."

Mick Fanning (right) and friend. Photo: Courtesy of Ted Grambeau

When ASN called the renowned surf and adventure photographer Ted Grambeau, he was halfway through hauling 50 boxes of his coffee table book, “Adventures in Light,” from a delivery truck into his Gold Coast apartment.

“That’s what happens when you self-publish,” laughed the affable Australian. “I’m the photographer, promoter and also have to provide the heavy lifting.”

With each hard cover book containing 240 pages of imagery from Ted’s four decades of photography, the weight (both physical and emotional) is considerable.

“Self publishing meant I could publish the shots I love the most,” continues Grambeau. “I wanted it to be a celebration of my photographic journey and that journey goes beyond surfing. It takes in festivals, culture, portraits, underwater images, fashion and photojournalism.”

On the road in South America. Photo: Courtesy of Ted Grambeau

Grambeau first pursued photography in the 1970s and from the start was always in interested in pushing the boundaries of surf exploration and adventure. His twenties were spent doing some of the most hardcore surf trips on the planet and the resulting images were featured on the covers of some the biggest surf magazines in the world.

However he is probably best known for his long-time collaboration with the surf company Rip Curl and their ongoing campaign, “The Search.”

“When Rip Curl started that campaign it was the perfect fit with my ideals,” Grambeau tells ASN. “I was on a search myself anyway, so the synergy was a beautiful thing. It gave me a platform to go explore the world, but more importantly it became all about the journey. For me that is the essence of any trip and what I’ve tried to capture in the book.”

“Adventures In Light” does feature five of Ted's most iconic surf trips from “The Search,” adventures where Ted captured new surfing frontiers.

However the book also covers Ted’s career as one of the most widely traveled, well-rounded, technically skilled and artistic photographers working in the realm of adventure travel.

Another iconic shot taken in Alaska. Photo courtesy of Ted Grambeau

“I wanted each shot to be solely based on their photographic integrity,” says Grambeau. “Myself and the designer Alistair Mitchell printed out hundreds of candidate photos that I loved the most from my entire collection and just picked the photos on the merit.

“That means a beautiful shot of Alana Blanchard might be juxtaposed with a pack of wild dogs in Mexico, which is followed by a shot of Mick Fanning with a gorilla.”

In the age of social media Grambeau also sees the book as an opportunity to create a tangible product that readers can take their time with. While that comes with a lot more heavy lifting, Ted feels it is vital.

“I think books will start to play a more important role in culture soon,” he says. “The recent phenomena of assigning a three-second value to an image I think won’t be so pervasive in the future. I’m passionate about having a legacy and I think print is the best way to have that.”

An early lineup shot of Skeleton Bay in Namibia. Photo: Courtesy of Ted Grambeau

In that, his good mate and long-time traveling companion Mick Fanning agrees.

“We are bombarded with so many images these days and it’s easy to get jaded and miss the magic,” Fanning tells ASN. “Ted reminds us of the beauty and adventure to be found in the world all around us every day. We’re lucky to have him.”

Adventures in Light” is available on Grambeau’s website.

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