Foreword & questions by John Streit. Answers & photos by Billy Ficke.

Welcome to In Depth, our new photo session profile series! In Depth’s goal is to gather more insight into a particular session or day of shooting straight from the photographers themselves. When longtime S&A contributor Billy Ficke hit us up with these classic images of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse reeling off south swell rights from Saturday, Jan. 24; the table was set for In Depth to take off! We’re always stoked to highlight the guys behind the lens, who continually sacrifice riding waves in the name of documenting the action and creating stoke for those unable to make the journey.

S&A: Man, it looked like it was really pumping out of the south with that peak detonating right in front of that groin. How close were guys coming to that thing?

BF: This guy, I’m pretty sure it was Hunter Hicks, dropped in before the groin and backdoor a crazy section right in front of it!

S&A: What were the biggest challenges in shooting on this day?

BF: The weather. It was cold, windy and raining pretty much all day. It was really cloudy and the lighting was pretty bad, so I had to shoot at a lower shutter speed, which was sort of hard because I wasn’t using a tripod. I like to walk around and get different angles and the tripod would slow me down. I’ll use one if I’m not moving spots frequently, but I was moving around a lot; climbing on top of the jetty and the dunes.

S&A: What makes shooting at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse special?

BF: It’s a journey to get there. People have been surfing there for a while, so there’s a lot of culture and classic times. The groins make the place look gnarly, and the lighthouse gives it that historic feel. The sunsets and sunrises are like no other.

S&A: Awesome man! Tell me about the inspiration behind the Jockey’s Ridge shot.

BF: Back in the summertime, I was up there hanging out with some friends and we talked about if there was a big swell, imagine the view from up here! I never forgot about that and just had to wait for the right time. I got the shot on the way to Buxton to kill some time because it was still raining and high tide, so I made a pit stop. It was a long walk to get there haha!


A mid-winter south swell lit up the third groin of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse with reeling righthanders. Photo: Ficke.
Fresh off a trip to the tropics, Hatteras' Brett Barley was right back at home, cold water and all. Photo: Ficke.
Sure, the subject of the photo is an impressive display of power, but look at the horizon line. Those are massive waves and wind plumes breaking over Diamond Shoals several miles out to sea. Diamond Shoals was created by an outcropping of contenintal bedrock that nearly reaches the surface. Who knows how big it is out there. Photo: Ficke.
A slabby mutant gnashes its teeth. Photo: Ficke.
Raven Lundy backdoors this Lighthouse gem. Photo: Ficke.
Lookoing north from the first groin gives you a view paralell with the lineup. The south swell keeps on pumping in. Photo: Ficke.
This detonator captivates the folks in the foreground as well as the surfer paddling back out. Photo: Ficke.
Brett Barley putting on a classic backside barrel riding clinic. Photo: Ficke.
Virginia Beach barrel hunter Brian Bassett pulls in to a lengthy right barrel -- East Coast perfection. 1 of 8. Photo: Ficke.
Brian Bassett, 2 of 8. Photo: Ficke.
Brian Bassett, 3 of 8. Photo: Ficke.
Brian Bassett, 4 of 8. Photo: Ficke.
Brian Bassett, 5 of 8. Photo: Ficke.
Brian Bassett, 6 of 8. Photo: Ficke.
Brian Bassett, 7 of 8. Photo: Ficke.
Brian Bassett, 8 of 8. Photo: Ficke.
A perfectly framed shot of the south swell reeling between the cottages captured from high in Jockey's Ridge: A shot Billy has been eyeing up for some time. Photo: Ficke.


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