Dazzling Blue #117: Iconic Pipeline with Photographer Sean Davey

Dazzling Blue #117: Iconic Pipeline with Photographer Sean Davey


Pipeline scares from the water, that’s for sure. But it also scares long before that. For any surf-stoked kid growing up with the myth of the North Shore, there’s an entire list of things to be scared of, and Pipeline is right there at the top. The scare begins in bedrooms in New Smyrna Beach, on sofas in San Clemente. And the scare begins as you drive down the Kam Hwy, turn into Ke Nui Road, park, cross the Ehukai Beach Park and look out to the world’s deadliest wave.

          I came across the below image by accident. Googling “Pipeline lineup shots” (and variations thereof), it came up repeatedly. Shot by Tasmania-born Sean Davey, whom I have known and worked with for many years, I wondered what it’s like to have your photograph circulated far and wide in the digital sphere, and also the story behind the photo.

          “It’s a very satisfying image,” said Sean. “I was contracted to shoot for someone that day, so I only had a couple of minutes to get a couple lineup shots and then I had to leave. So I got the shot, and I sat on it for ages, and I thought, Gee, I’d really like to do something with this image, but look at all those people in the photo! Someone’s going to try and sue me for their likeness if I use this shot. So what I did was I blacked out all the people. I silhouetted them all.”

          Sean asked me if I’d noticed that. I told him I hadn’t.

          “It’s very subliminal. The photo was taken late morning, maybe 11-ish. You don’t normally get silhouettes at that time of day. It came out real nice. And because the people are all black silhouettes there was nobody to be identified. It came out just perfect.”

          Sean’s been shooting Pipeline since 1994. He’s been living on the North Shore since 1997.

          “I’ve shot a lot of lineups of Pipe, but that’s one of the more iconic ones,” he told me. “And what’s really cool about this one is I shot it in the pre-digital era—there’s nobody holding phones up, or cameras of any kind. The only cameras in that image are the ones that are being looked through the viewfinder. That gives it a nice historic feel.”

For more of Sean Davey go HERE.

Instagram: @sean_davey