Through The Water To The Sky.
Legendary Lenseman Tom Boyle has been documenting bodyboarding from almost the beginning. He recently announced that he’ll been releasing many unseen images and accompanying stories from the classic era of Bodyboarding in a series of print books. Infoamed caught up with Tom to get a little more information about his project.
All 📷Tom Boyle.
You’ve recently announced you’ll be releasing a series of books entitled ” Through The Water To The Sky”. Can you tell us where the inspiration for the books came from?
Through the Water to the Sky is a specific blue that I always thought was the most true and intense blue in existence. I hadn’t really clued in to it until I was shooting photos with a professional rig. And I’d see the results where the water is clear enough to see the sky through part of the lip that’s throwing over.
However, it seemed like a natural name for the book series, because there are different levels or different meanings depending on what the story is or who’s reading it. Some riders might immediately think its code for catching air? That might be true for that person.
On the other hand, if you need to be in the water regularly to keep from losing your mind, then it might be your sanctuary or heaven on Earth.
If the beach or some trip you took to catch waves ended up with you meeting your spouse or significant other? The water helped you find some of your dreams in life. There’s a French rider that traveled to Bali after multiple viewings of my video Jade Mornings and Emerald Afternoons,
The Indonesian Experience. He met a wonderful Balinese woman and they now live in New York with two beautiful kids.
You might think “Why would anyone create a book in 2021? Everything’s digital now!” Yeah, I hear you. But the high school I attended sends out
an email of the Alumni Bulletin (digital copy) and the hard copy (magazine) showed up two days later in my mailbox. They had a feature on photographers (didn’t ask Don King or me – but both Clark Little and Zak Noyle were in the feature). There was a nice variety of artists and their work. But I was more critical of certain photos while looking at them on my phone. When I opened up the magazine, I was taken aback! Print in my hands was so much more effective. Its tactile. It had more of an impact. The same photos struck me in a different way. So, I have to believe that there’s a number of riders out there that want to have a book in their hand.
What format will the books take?
Through the Water to the Sky is the book series. Individual books will be in volumes. Glenn Policare helped me arrive at that.
I had a 400 page book that I kept trying to edit down… then I’d start finding other photos and writing about them. Before I knew it,
I was edging back up toward 400 pages. That’s too big for a book. But there are so many good stories to tell. I didn’t want to have a beginning and then leave readers with a cliff hanger halfway through. Like “Well, now you have to buy the next book!” That’s not
right. So, I’m going to be whittle the number of stories down for each volume. And in turn this allows me to be more specific.
There’s a popular term thrown about now “that I’ll be able to do a deep dive” on performers, spots, travel and contests, etc.
That’s another way to see the sky through the water, when you’re looking up from a deep dive!
The 1st book is an 8×10 portrait. Hard cover. Looking at 124 pages but its not set in stone. When I get the first proof from the printers in a week, I’ll make the necessary adjustments. Like I was saying earlier, I need to hold the printed version in my hands to see.
The first book is slated to focus on the original rivalry of Mike Stewart vs Ben Severson, to which to you had a front row seat. What sort of insights and images can customers expect?
Well, I met Ben Severson in 1981 at Sandy Beach when he was sophomore in high school. I had met Mike Stewart a long time before that, but this was before he moved to Kona. Mike Stewart post-Kona was a different animal.
I started shooting Ben regularly in 1982. And after getting to know Mike and seeing him in action at Pipe that December, I was keen to get what I was witnessing on film. Keith Sasaki and I visited Mike in Kona that spring.
Ben lived about a mile from my house. I’d pick him up and we’d go to whichever beach would be the best. And then he’d proceed to drop in on me (on my very best wave of the day). Every. Fucking. Time.
The majority of the images are from 1982 – 90. I may have more shots of Mike because we went to Bali and G-Land in 1985 and 1989. We were at Tavarua in Fiji in February of ’86. But Ben and I shot a lot at Sandy’s, Makapu’u, the West Side and the North Shore. Plus we’d hit it to the outer islands for one of our favorite sandbars.
Both Ben and Mike were on that incredibly important trip to Oz in April of ’86. Mike and I were on a trip to Tahiti in ’87 that was originally supposed to be another photographer’s trip (that’s a long story). Anyway, we were very close to punching each other in the face
repeatedly right at the end of the trip (it wasn’t just Mike and I – it was the whole trip). And I wondered, when I was at baggage claim at the airport,
if I’d ever talk to him again. Then about six weeks later, Mike called me up and said “Buzzy and Hanz have a duplex overlooking V-Land.
The second story is up for rent this winter. Do you want get it before someone else does?” Something to that effect. So I’ve got photos
of Mike as my roommate!
How much will each book sell for, and where can people reserve / purchase their copy?
Volume 1 Mike vs Ben is 50US and 15US taxes and shipping. Limited edition. The first 100 are numbered.
For the riders that believe in this project 100US and 15US taxes and shipping, gets your name in the front of the book as a supporter. That’s for perpetuity (if a publisher wants to do a larger run in the future).
My PayPal is email@example.com and my Venmo is Thomas-Boyle-23
Please be sure to leave your mailing address in the accompanying note!
You were a top competitor yourself in the early bodyboarding scene, what led you down the path of photography / videography?
I was a photographer and cinematographer before I was a pro rider. But it was seeing things at Sandy Beach that I believed others
needed to see that pushed me to shoot from the water. I mean, the photos and stories I was reading in Surfer and Surfing Magazines were really top notch! But I’d see something happen at Sandy’s and think “That was as good as anything in the latest issue.
Plus, I thought “People would really enjoy seeing this. They need to see it!”
When BodyBoarding Magazine was going to be a reality, the powers-that-be at Surfing told me I had to drop my professional sponsorships. Advertising is where a magazine makes its money, and they didn’t want advertisers crying foul if I was spending too much time shooting
the rides for companies that were paying me. They weren’t saying that I would – they just wouldn’t want someone else to claim it. So to
avoid a conflict of interest, I dropped my paid sponsorships. The bigger deal for everyone was BodyBoarding Magazine becoming successful. That was gigantic.
But it would’ve been nice to get a signature model board. That would’ve been killer.
Realistically, if I’d sat back and waited for everything to happen for me (so that I’d get my name on a board) not only would I have missed that, but a lot of others would have, too.
The Mag didn’t say I couldn’t enter contests, though! So when I got 3rd in the 1987 Pipe Contest, it was definitely a highlight for me. And losing to Mike and Ben was no shame.
Greatest bodyboarding moment or performance you have witnessed over your time in the water?
Guilherme Tamega in the 1994 Pipe event where he decided he was either “going to win the contest or die (trying)!”
He almost got the other half of his wish… I’m glad that he got the first half!