When I plunked down my $35, I figured I was ordering a coffee table book filled with pictures of campfires, lonely peaks, and sun-baked landscape shots focused on solitary surfers and their rides (in this case a VW bus). That’s what I got, and I’m good with it. With its lean narrative, exceptional pictures, and an accompanying thirty minute DVD the California Surf Project definitely delivers. Surfers who dream of taking off for a while to chase waves, with no plan but to go, will find themselves flipping through this book more than once.
Eric Soderquist and Chris Burkard succeed in creating an inspired surf-travel retrospective of the California coast in a nice neat artistic package. Once you slide the hot pocket like sleeve, announcing the title, off the book you are greeted with a cover shot depicting, yep, a solitary surfer heading down a path in to the scenic California expanse. The cover and picture are one so you don’t need to fumble with a jacket cover which will ultimately tear and look like garbage on your table of choice. The quick back story is that Burkhard won a Larry Flame photography grant making the project possible. It’s no mystery why he won; his pictures are sharp, creative and convincingly illustrate the feeling of a leisurely surf trip down the coast with a good friend who rips. These guys are focused on the surf and their surroundings.
Some of the pictures you’ve seen before, but do your really expect them to pass up a shot of an empty barrel, a backlit VW bus at sunset, or a ramshackle weed covered shed in the country for affect? Thankfully, they resisted the urge to spray paint an abandoned car. Throw in images of redwoods and elephant seals up north and urban shots of pier parking lots and Ferris wheels down south, with some aerials thrown in, and you get the picture. In sparse prose and 175 pages of pictures they convincingly capture the essence of a surf trip down the coast in all its moods, from spooky overcast desolate rock strewn beaches to crowded amusement park-like lineups, they cover it.
If you like to travel, hope to travel, or dream of escaping the daily grind this book will hit the mark. In my opinion The California Surf Project belongs on a surfer’s coffee table next to a thick stack of Surfer’s Journals and a map.