"They took X-rays and as soon we saw them we knew it was bad." - Todd Glaser
“The images we make are collaborative,” says photographer Todd Glaser of his work with Kelly Slater. Nearly ten years ago the pair met in France. They became fast friends. Todd got a gig with Quiksilver to trail Kelly for the next three years. That relationship continues. “Being able to work with someone like Kelly is just incredible,” Todd says. “He is a great photographer himself, so he pushes me to be the best person I can be, but also to be the best photographer I can be, too.”
I asked him what he loves most about taking pictures. “I love being able to—this is going to sound really cliché—just kind of create and capture a moment, whatever that means. My first and favorite thing to do is to be in the water and to capture images. I love to surf, and to be able to give a surfer’s perspective of what it’s like to be in the water, it’s something not a lot of people get to see, and it’s something that I really enjoy doing.”
“We were in J-Bay for the contest. Kelly was super excited—he had a bunch of new boards he wanted to try out. He was frothing. The forecast looked great. He surfed his first heat and he won. The next day Round 2 was happening, but we knew we had all day to surf. We got down to the beach early. Kelly was out at Boneyards, he was having a great session, and then on his last wave he took off and did two big high lines and ended up just pulling into a closeout at the top of Supers. We were down on the beach shooting. We saw him kind of floating and we thought, Oh, this is weird. He started getting washed through the rocks, by the keyhole, and at that point we knew something bad was happening. Luckily there were two guys down by the beach right there. They helped him get out of the water and carried him up to the closest house. At that point the medic came. Kelly was taking it pretty well—he knew his foot was bad but he was up and he was talking through the whole process. He went in the ambulance to the urgent care up the road. They took X-rays and as soon we saw them we knew it was bad.
Kelly was in pain. I think he was just thinking through what had just happened and what it means and the whole healing process. His foot was all different colors of purple, and it was swelling pretty quickly. He was in a wheelchair with his foot up, and then a chef came in who’d just chopped his finger off on accident—it was a weird moment.
We took him back to the house where he was staying. He couldn’t fly for a couple of days ‘cause he had to wait for the swelling to go down. They gave him a boot for his foot. He hung out and watched the waves. About five days later he flew home.
Fortunately he was surrounded by friends who were keeping him positive. But everything happens for a reason. We’re not too sure how long till he’s back in the water, but we’re hoping for a quick recovery.”
---Jamie Brisick is a writer, photographer, and director. He surfed on the ASP world tour from 1986 to 1991. He has since documented surf culture extensively. His books include Becoming Westerly: Surf Champion Peter Drouyn’s Transformation into Westerly Windina, Roman & Williams: Things We Made, We Approach Our Martinis With Such High Expectations, Have Board, Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and Snow, and The Eighties at Echo Beach. His writings and photographs have appeared in The Surfer’s Journal, The New York Times, and The Guardian. He was the editor of Surfing magazine from 1998-2000, and is presently the global editor of Huck. In 2008 he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship. He lives in Los Angeles. For more of his work check out jamiebrisick.com & @jamiebrisick