Behind The Cover Of The “Big Photo Book”

Click image to subscribe to TransWorld SURF Magazine. Photo: Straley

Click image to subscribe to TransWorld SURF Magazine. Photo: Straley

Behind The Cover Of The 2011 TransWorld SURF “Big Photo Book”: Ben Bourgeois’ Super Secret Sure Thing

Ben Bourgeois is a lucky bastard. That’s what I used to think, at least. See, a few years ago, photos from a trip he organized came back that were some of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful waves we’d ever seen. Slightly overhead, perfect A-frame wedges in an idyllic crystal-blue bay. The location was secret; hell, we didn’t even know our photographer went until he got back and sent in an unmarked disc full of surf gold. We drooled and went crazy, and Ben’s travel partner Alek Parker got a cover off the trip. I figured this had to be luck: scoring euphoric surf like this in some clandestine bay in the notoriously fickle Caribbean.

But then it happened—again. And in a new spot. This time Ben had found (or revealed) another gem—a right sandpoint, complete with spitting, dredging barrels, and not another soul apart from their crew out. And again, it remained a secret. “Somewhere in the Caribbean.” He actually got two covers off his first two trips to this spot. Lucky, right? After talking to him about it, though, I quickly found it this so-called luck was actually a ton of scouting work that was now paying big dividends.

He went back again earlier this winter and got it fun, but not amazing—no cover. But then a few weeks later a swell swirled in the Atlantic, and Benny sounded the alarm and they went back with photographer Chris Straley. And here we are: three covers in four trips.

“It’s hard nowadays to get photos in the mag unless it’s a 50-footer at Chopes or something,” laughs Ben. “But to find something new that’s no one’s seen, I think people are interested in that, too. Yeah, that spot’s been good to me.”

Picking the cover image every month is a weighty undertaking. But when it comes to picking the image for the cover our annual Big Photo Book, the stakes are doubled, and then some.

But when we saw the first images from this trip, the entire staff knew we weren’t going to have to spend much time debating this month’s cover.

Usually when a spot lands on the cover, people figure out where it is and it gets swarmed within six months. Ben isn’t worried about his find. “Actually, it’s gotten a lot harder to get there now,” he says, “so I’m not too worried about people going there. Plus it maybe only breaks two or three times a year. And to top it off, there’s a lot of tricks to getting there now.”—Chris Coté

Big Photo Book Features

Photo Gallery
We save up our A-plus images all year so that we can serve them up in our annual photo issue. It’s a big beautiful piece of surf-stoke art.

The Professionals
Pro surfers rip, sure, but can they pick photos? Find out as Rob Machado, Taylor Knox, Kolohe Andino, and more take over our photo files.

Anatomy Of A Surf Photo
Ever wondered how in the hell surf photographers capture all the crazy angles and points of view you see? We pull the curtain back on the magic.


Editor’s Note: Pesky words be gone.
Letters: Hate mail, love mail, and prison males. Send your letters to
True Stories: A Colombian necktie served at Sunset Beach.
Currents: RIP Sion, shoes for trees, and surfing 13,000 days in a row.
Mess And Noise: Like a bar mat of surf news, with Miss March as the chaser.
How To: Nosebonks with Parker Coffin.
Ask The Expert: The real dangers of surf photography.
Quivers: Mitch Coleborn’s ’QS killers.
Surf Science: Photo gear.
Go There: South atolls of the Maldives.
Check Outs: Caio Ibelli and Christian Saenz.
Departure: It feels good, but looks like roadkill.
Last Words: ASP World Junior Champion Jack Freestone.

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