traveling surf photographer

Adventures of a Surf Photographer

Ryan Moss is someone we feel lucky to know and even luckier to have on our Ambassador team. He’s an amazing surf photographer, an adrenaline junky and someone who rarely, if ever, says no. He’s got ADD but controls it in a way that seems to work to his advantage. People will call him in the middle of the night, between trips, to ask if he can jump on an early flight because the waves will be firing in some remote location and they need someone to document it. Consistently, his answer is yes.

Ryan has been busy the last few weeks. We can tell in his voice when we get the chance to talk between flights, surf sessions in tropical locations some only dream of visiting and editing all the visual masterpieces he captures during his adventures. You can hear the blurred line of which trip is which and what spot he’s referring to as ‘firing’ – and as quick as you think he’s tired, you hear… no… you feel, the stoke in his heart. You feel the excitement and passion in what he’s doing. You feel how hyped he is to be packing his gear again. You get excited to see what images come through from the new adventure. You get excited for the next phone call. To hear all the details. To hear the “Dude, you’re never gonna believe this…”

At the end of the call, you smile. You say something like, “Enjoy the adventure, dude.” You might curse him a little in your head because you’re jealous, but you feel lucky to have him on your team. And you feel lucky to know him.

Hear it first hand from Ryan below. This is his recap on the last few weeks. Go Anywhere.


The months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds have all begun to blend together and seem like a blur.

The conscious line of separation between past and present has been removed long ago. I remember writing down what my future travel plans were, but like everything in my life lately the unexpected comes along and throws my plans out the window. Luck however has been on my side.

To quote Leonardo Dicaprio’s character Richard from the movie The Beach, “Trust me, it’s paradise. This is where the hungry come to feed. For mine is a generation that circles the globe and searches for something we haven’t tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.”

He’s right though. My body has suffered from countless days of travel and lack of sleep. I’m probably on the verge of checking myself into rehab from my rejuvenated caffeine addiction just to stay awake and meet all the deadlines that were set in stone before all the audible decisions I made on my travel plans.

All that being said, I wouldn’t change a single thing. I spent 13 days in Peru sleeping underneath star blanketed skies and shooting portraits of faces that were genuinely filled with happiness. Even though we didn’t get the waves we were hoping for, that trip in many ways re-ignited my desire to travel.

peru local skateboard photograph peru surf photography peru jewelry worker photo

peru local kids skateboarding picture of beautiful peru kids
peru local man
peru local surf town

Due to the lack of surf and nothing looking too promising on the horizon we cut our losses spent roughly $1200 to change my ticket back to California early to catch up with my family for a few days to celebrate Thanksgiving with them before I was to leave for Hawaii on December 3rd. This plan of course was short lived. I traveled roughly 24 hours home only to for a few hours enjoy a hot meal and roughly 2 hours of sleep in my old room and bed before I was woken up by a text message from Luke Davis. Luke had a remote reef pass wave on his radar and couldn’t find a photographer to go with him let alone a surfer. After weighing out all my options and making phone calls at 3am on Saturday November 29th I had a ticket booked and I started to pack my bags for the next few weeks of my life. I managed to sneak in another couple hours of sleep before I had to wake up and head up to San Francisco International Airport to jump on a flight to Oahu so I could make my connecting flight to Micronesia. To be honest I didn’t mind leaving the cold California weather. I had just enough to enjoy it and have a sense of being home, without being home.

Luke Davis Eyes

Home has become a word that has no real meaning these days, mainly because I don’t really have a home. I’ve been wandering the globe living a modern day gypsy. I have been fortunate enough to have some incredible people in my life that have given me a couch or a hotel room to crash in.

So fast forward roughly 24 hours later Luke Davis and myself finally found ourselves in Micronesia running on fumes from lack of sleep.

Luke Davis Micronesia micronesia ppass lagoon at sunrise micronesia ppass at sunrise micronesia surf boat Luke Davis on boat Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker for Surfing

Luke Davis Surfing
Luke Davis sunscreen

Luke Davis jumping off boat

Luke Davis surf check
Big Wave at P-Pass
Luke Davis barrel sequence
empty wave micronesia
Luke Davis tubed at P-pass

But, we did have an endless amount of coffee, coconuts, and bananas to keep us going. We spent the next two days on a boat scoring flawless waves. Luke would go surf and when he was in need of a much deserved break from scoring flawless 6ft barrels I would have an opportunity to sneak out and score a few of my own. I have never been so sun burnt in my life, but it was all worth it.

perfect wave micronesia

Ryan Moss Bodyboarding
Ryan Moss bodyboarding

Surfer Portrait Photography

Luke Davis Surfing Picture
Luke Davis Tropical Barrel

Luke Davis Eyes

We had stayed our welcome and I needed to get back to reality and start on my next project with Lucas Gilman. I flew back to Oahu, Hawaii to meet up with him and legendary surfer Shane Dorian. Once again nothing cooperated initially. Due to weather Luke’s flight was canceled for two days in a row leaving me to handle the initial portion of the project on my own. It seemed like the deck of cards was stacked against us. But somehow someway the universe delivered everything to us on a silver platter. After three days of debating, discussing our plans and seemingly having the same conversation over and over again Lucas trusted my instincts and we pulled the trigger to change the scope of the project and fly to Maui to film a well known big wave spot.

We scored…… Like really scored. It felt really good to have back-to-back trips go my way for a change.


Shane Dorian at Jaws on Jetski Jaws big wave surf photography Shane Dorian Surfing Jaws big wave at jaws Dropping in at  Jaws Maui huge barrel Jaws Hawaii Ryan Moss Jaws jetski Photographer surfer barreled at Jaws surfer jaws hawaii

I guess the moral of the whole story is that all the aches and pains are worth it.

You lose part of yourself, but what you lose is only a fraction in comparison to what you gain. I’ve lost a few friends over the years to this life I chose, but the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve acquired along the way are priceless and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll fly home to California and once again spend only a few hours at my parents house before I drive back down to San Luis Obispo and lock myself in an editing bay for another 5 days. I will take a few days off for the holidays and shut off my phone. I look forward to that a lot. But most of all, I look forward to going back to Central California and chasing a couple swells and scoring perfect, “ice cream headache” barrels with a few friends. I plan on going back and spending some time working with a personal trainer that trains professional athletes and prepare for the rest of winter. Looking back, 2014 was amazing and very good to me. I look forward to what 2015 has in store.

Ryan Moss

  • Russell Ord

    Well done Ryan Moss….awesome work as per usual…

  • Danny Nieves

    Great photos with an even better story, definitely motivating to get out there and work for it.