In surfing lore the seventh wave is the crackin’ one; that epic wave in a series that begs to be caught. Whether or not the seventh wave lore is really true, there is at least a figurative seventh wave, one that Larry Beard has caught numerous times, both on a board and with his camera.
Beard is a former pro surfer who transitioned into photography – mainly fashion and commercial photography – after his time on the pro circuit. Beard’s connection to the ocean, however, was too strong to deny and surf photography soon became his focus.
That transition back to his first love, the ocean, also brought up the question of how best to present the photographic ocean art he was capturing. The picture shown here of one of Beard’s creations that adorns a client’s dining room is representative of that evolution toward the ideal presentation of his work.
Beard explains its creation: “First, we print the image on Sunset Photo Metallic Paper we get from LexJet. I’m really happy with that paper, by the way; it’s awesome. We then laminate it to either 1/4″ or 1/2″ acrylic, attached to a wood backing that has a Z-bar hanging mechanism. The Z-bar is an interlocking channel system where on channel is attached to the piece, top and bottom, with a corresponding Z-bar on the wall that you literally just drop it into the interlocking channels. A 1/4″ acrylic piece will weigh about 50 pounds; on half inch it’s about 80 pounds. It’s a substantial piece that you don’t want coming down in an earthquake or if someone bumps into it, and the Z-bar makes it solid.”
Beard has created these stunning acrylic pieces for homes, offices and restaurants. This particular piece, called Perfect Blue, was selected by Beard to complement his client’s newly remodeled home and dining room.
“With the acrylic and the Sunset Metallic paper you get the utmost in detail. It’s so sharp; it looks like a flat screen HD TV. The acrylic gives it a glow that softens it and at the same time gives it more detail; I know that’s an oxymoron, but that’s the best way to describe it. It’s by far my favorite medium. It’s so high-end looking,” says Beard. “That particular image is so majestic and when you print it on Sunset Metallic it really elevates that room.”
Beard began doing his own printing a few months ago when he purchased a Canon iPF8300 from LexJet. His expertise in color management and Photoshop, coupled with the wider color gamut of the 12-color printer, has been a revelation.
“I’m blown away with what we’re able to produce with that printer,” says Beard. “We were sending our work out before we got the printer and our prints look 20 to 30 percent better.”
Perfect Blue was captured during a photo shoot in the South Pacific with pro surfers Sunny Garcia and Koby Abberton for Carve Sunglasses. The shoot was another opportunity for Beard to capture the perfect, or seventh if you prefer, wave and add it to his online store at solitaryexposure.com. The online gallery also carries and prints the work of photo artists like Russ Sanders and David Puu.
“There are all kinds of techniques, styles, creativity and locations from talented artists. Once you get over yourself, you open up to being able to help those artists and pass along a wider variety of images,” says Beard.
The quality of Beard’s work comes from quantity. It takes a lot of time in the ocean, and the hazards associated with that, to capture his signature style. It starts before dawn when Beard dons a wetsuit and flippers, toting a his Canon 5D Mark III in a water housing to find what he calls those “magic moments.”
“With digital photography and GoPro, as well as file sharing on social networks, people are inundated with so much really good stuff. My thing is to get out there at five in the morning when the best light is best and put myself in those situations where you can capture that moment. That magic moment requires a little bit of luck, so the more you’re out there the more chances you have to capture it and come away with something special and unique and over and above what’s out there,” explains Beard. “In order to get some of those barrel shots you have to put yourself in the most critical part of the wave: I try to get it where the lip of the wave barely misses my head. I went to Bali after the Carve Sunglasses shoot since I was over there anyway and got smashed on the reef on my first session out and my water housing hit the reef, put a hole in it and flooded my brand new Canon. It’s got its perils, but I love the images I get.”
Based in San Clemente, Calif., a nice, relatively sleepy beach town on the Southern California coastline, Beard says his favorite spot to shoot in SoCal is south Laguna.
“There are a lot of unique coves that are amazing. You can go down there this time of year and there’s no one down there. It’s such a perfect spot with the cliffs, the coves, a surf that breaks really shallow for dramatic photos, and the water is very clear,” he says.