It was the type of wipeout that retires a lot of surfers. Derek Dunfee is an experienced big-wave surfer (waves 20 feet or higher); if he wasn't, the wipeout could have been deadly. When that big wave crashed down on top of him, the La Jolla native says he was "dizzy and nauseous for three months" and the resulting concussion has left him with some lingering memory issues. Still, he continues to surf giant swells and admits that the downtime recovering from the wipeout helped him focus on DEKKA, a multi-issue zine of the big-wave photos he's been shooting for more than a decade.
"I just had this huge wave land right on top of me. I was worried at the time that I might be losing my memory so I just started going into all my hard drives and started working on this project," says Dunfee, who credits his twin brother Taylor for teaching him everything he knows about photography. "It's funny, but the concussion made me more focused to collect all my best images."
Surf photography isn't exactly a medium known for experimentalism, and while Dunfee has had some of his more standard shots of big-wave surfing published in magazines like Surfer and Transworld, the pictures in DEKKA (Vol. 2 was released this past week in a limited run, and can be purchased at SAID Space in Encinitas) showcase a more DIY, unconventional approach. Most of the pictures were taken during trips he made to South Africa, Fiji, Mexico and even Ireland, and while all of them are gorgeous representations of scenic locales, some of them (especially the black-and-white photos) are dark, foreboding reminders of the ceaseless man vs. nature conflict.
"There's so many mediums out there now to get your photography seen and a lot of people ask me why I haven't put them on a Tumblr or Pinterest page," says Dunfee. "For me, I wanted to put it out in a way that people could hold onto it and pull it out from time to time to look at it."