Mikala Jones’ bent for capturing POV barrel footage may seem a function of the larger, more recent tendency among surfers to self-document. But a closer look at his pedigree establishes an interest in photography and film from his earliest years. His father, John Jones, a surf photographer from Santa Cruz who raised his family on Oahu, passed his trade on to Mikala. “My dad definitely taught me a lot about composition when I was young,” says Jones. “That got me thinking about how to capture a quality image.” By his early teens Jones was surfing regularly with water-photography maven—and close family friend—Warren Bolster, further honing his understanding of how to shoot from the water. And later, his travel partners—and early POV film adopters—Travis Potter and Timmy Turner continued to blur Jones’ sense of the divide between surfer and cinematographer.
Mikala Jones has long held a reputation for clocking more hours in the water than even his most surf-stoked peers. Now working double-duty as a surfer-filmer he’s also logging more footage than some highly dedicated surf cinematographers. Photo: Jones
Since relocating to Bali in 2001, Jones has had plenty of time to conduct his own filmic experimentations. It’s increased a sense of the possibilities not only with regard to his camera work, but also as a surf-obsessed traveler who goes to great lengths to cover his tracks. According to Jones, “Shooting my own footage has allowed me to go on trips by myself—without a photographer, or anyone else around.”
Greater control over the creative process enables Jones to carefully meter the exposure of his favorite wave-rich haunts around Indonesia. “Surf photographers hate it when I’m trying to film from the barrel,” says Jones. “ If you’re holding a camera in your mouth, it completely ruins their shots.” Where most pro-surf types would see this disinclination as a loss of exposure, Jones sees greater value in minimizing the visibility of surf spots he returns to year after year.
The self-documented field report that Jones sent to TSJ demonstrates both his knack for POV camera work and his ability to narrow the exposure of places to which he travels. Recent clips from the South Pacific and Indonesia arrived to us piecemeal but carefully trimmed. When strung together and slowed down just right the tube-riding footage is almost mesmerizing enough as to distract—if only for a moment—from thinking, “Where is that?”
A field report from Mikala Jones—recent tube-hunting in the South Pacific and Indonesia:
For more on the Mikala Jones travel program, check out his profile featured in issue 23.2.