One of the first surf photographers to truly ply his trade in the Pacific Northwest, Mark McInnis won’t even go so far as to call it that. He prefers the Lake-Poets-sounding “Cascadia” instead.
In this showcase, collected from 20 years of shooting remote plots, cut track with the photographer and plow through dripping ferns and nettle, step onto black-sand beaches redolent of spruce sap and bear sign, check sea stacks and flotsam redwood bisecting wave forms—all captured in pin-sharp compositions. It’s a world most of us will never surf, and that’s a measurable amount of the appeal.
[Captions by the photographer.]
The Easy Goodbye
Anytime someone sees this image, they ask, “How could you drive away from that?” The answer is that it’s tough, but made a little easier after you’ve had it all to yourself—all morning long. To get it, though, you’ve got to put in the work and be comfortable in the cold.
The Macrocosm of Mark McInnis
A short bio film focused on the how and where the gelid-eyed lensman plies his trade.
Some of the waves in this part of South America are incredibly crowded, and for good reason: the points here are as perfect as anywhere in the world. But known spots are just a few of a lot more. Sniff around a corner or two, and empty setups are plentily on offer.
Dane Anderson and I waited a month for this wave to show itself. Well worth the stakeout, even with the air temperature in single digits.
For all the empty lineups, high-performance action, and untrodden landscapes I shoot, this image of an unbroken swell line approaching shore has become one of my all-time favorites.
Pacific Northwest Glow
Despite how it’s often portrayed, the PNW isn’t all grey skies, fog, and rain. And when the sun does come out, it often reveals perspectives and viewpoints you wouldn’t find anywhere else.
“As long as I’m searching for waves to photograph, my natural instinct will always be to look for rugged and wide-open places well off the beaten track. My paradise is frigid, empty, and reeling.”
Enjoy a short Q&A session with the photographer on his background, method, travels, and more.
Josh Mulcoy, California
Josh has been seeking out and finding unsurfed waves along the west coast of North America for decades, and has been a huge influence on me in where and how I travel. He and I value the same things when it comes to surfing and photographing it: stylish turns and long tubes, ideally found in places other people want nothing to do with—whether that’s far away or close to home in Santa Cruz. He’s a master at pulling it off. I remember this wave distinctly. It’s hard to surf like that in icy water and thick rubber. And just after this wave, my lens quit working. I’m so thankful it didn’t happen any earlier.
An oft-overlooked slab in Canada. I can’t stress it enough: If you want to surf good waves with not another soul around, they’re very much out there. Just remember not to be too specific with the coordinates, lest we all lose out.
The Ice Palace
It’s rare for conditions like these to line up, even in really harsh environments. That makes it extra special when it does. To me, there’s nothing more romantic in surfing than the combination of flawless point waves and snowfall.
About the Photographer
Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, award-winning photographer Mark McInnis has spent nearly two decades capturing the region’s natural beauty and rugged harshness—and, in particular, its surf resources that exist in between. Well aware that those factors are an increasing scarcity in today’s world, he truly does it right: mostly traveling alone, trekking around each bend by foot, sweeping over his tracks, and keeping mum on the specifics.
As a product of his environment, he’s cultivated both an eye and a mode that has served him well in a variety of photographic pursuits the world over, whether shooting other remote landscapes and seascapes, performance-oriented punters in warmer locales, or framing lookbooks in commercial endeavors for major brands.