It is said that the act of riding waves in the ocean with a wooden board dates back over three thousand years. One of the oldest practiced sports on the planet, surfing combines both athleticism and skill, as well as a deep understanding of the immense beauty and power of the forces of nature. As the sport has evolved, surfers have continuously pushed the boundaries of what is possible on waves around the world. Naturally, this has become a visual feast of inspiration for photographers and the practice of surf photography has become more than just a skill, it has become an art form.
Cape Town based surf photographer, Anthony Fox has always had a deep fascination with the ocean. Born and raised in Cape Town, his passion for surfing was passed on by his father who had grown up in Plettenberg Bay riding the waves of the idyllic Garden Route. While studying a BCom at Stellenbosch University, the young Fox traversed coastlines around the world in his spare time and developed a keen eye for photography. This soon turned into somewhat of a creative obsession, and after a brief stint in the corporate world working in the family business, he left behind his suit and tie, grabbed his wetsuit and decided to make a career out of it.
The 42-year old Fox is exactly as you would imagine. Think the Ryan Gosling of the surf world. Softly spoken and tanned, with sun-bleached blonde locks, piercing blue eyes, and the stature of someone who is in peak physical fitness. What a lot of people don’t appreciate about surf photography is just how demanding it is. Not only are you required to be technically skilled, but the challenging environment at backline requires high physical endurance, as well as an exceptional understanding and respect for the formidable ocean. Anthony Fox epitomizes this, and for the past 10 years, has brought a magical world to life through his innate creative mind, determined attitude, friendly humility, and deep respect for the waves and those who ride them.
After getting a few of his pictures featured in some local magazines, Fox’s career exploded and his work soon donned local and international covers, as well as being showcased by some of the most prominent labels in the world – surf and non-surf related. One of the many highlights of his career, was having his work featured in Ralph Lauren stores across the US, and selling some prints to pop star and icon Jennifer Lopez after her visit to the store in the Hamptons left her mesmerized by the sheer brilliance of Fox’s ability to tell stories and capture the mystery of the ocean.
Having travelled a good portion of the world in search of perfect waves, including Hawaii, Indonesia, East and West Africa, and the Caribbean (to name a few), Cape Town still holds the top spot. “I find that shooting in South Africa, particularly Cape Town, has the most dramatic visuals than I’ve seen anywhere else,” he says. “I thought Hawaii was beautiful, but these mountains that we have that fall into the sea the way they do makes for such intense, dramatic pictures. It’s incredible.”
Donned in a full wetsuit, gloves, booties and a hood to combat the cold of the icy Atlantic Ocean, and armed with a camera and lenses in high-tech water housing, Fox tackles the immense waves at one of SA’s top surf spots regularly – Dungeons. “I shoot a lot of the waves out at Dungeons. They’re big waves. So generally I’m on a jet ski, and I’ve got a pelican case in front of me with my cameras in it,” he explains. I like it out there, as opposed to swimming around in the small stuff. There’s more of a buzz. And it’s always different. You never know how the sea’s going to be or what’s going to happen. It’s such a beast of a wave. It has so many moods and nuances. It’s super challenging but when you get a good shot, it’s truly special.”
Dabbling between photographing surfers and adopting a more artistic style of shooting, Fox’s creative intelligence knows no bounds. Obsessed with light, he is constantly chasing the sun at unique moments in the day to add drama to his striking photographs. “I definitely lean towards a more artistic style of shooting,” says Fox. “It’s definitely a way to get someone to really ‘feel’ what I’m shooting at the time, as opposed to just a guy on a surfboard.”
Speaking of guys on surfboards, Fox has worked with the best of the best in the surf world, including Mikey February, Matt Bromley, and big wave legend, Grant “Twiggy” Baker. “Twiggy and I have travelled a lot together up through Africa. He’s been a big part of my journey,” says Fox. “Travelling to find new waves that have never been surfed before is so unique and special. We use Google Earth to try and find something that looks similar to some of the best waves on the planet, and if we see something that resembles what may be an amazing long right hand point break, or a heavy slab, we go and investigate it. To see what’s there. It involves a lot of groundwork and logistics and packing and unpacking, but heading off into the unknown is always such a special feeling. Trekking into the jungle for days…”
Locally, Fox is a regular contributor to big surf publications like Surfer and Zigzag and has had a few exhibitions in and around the Western Cape. He plans to exhibit his work more in 2019 and for us, this is great news. I mean… the proof is right there in the pictures. In pursuit of magic, Anthony Fox is blowing the art form right out of the water.
Follow Anthony Fox on Instagram @antfoxphoto or visit his website, www.antfoxphoto.com.
Text © Julie Graham | Images © Anthony Fox