Foreword & questions by John Streit. Answers & photos by Jon Carter.

Our latest “In-Depth” feature covers one of our favorite photographers’ — Jon Carter — favorite destination — Hawaii! Jon picked an awesome time to return to his former home during the Volcom Pipeline Pro and some of the coldest days of the winter on the East Coast. In between visiting with family and catching some waves of his own, Jon snapped these and many more images of Hawaiian surfing during his trip. We’re honored and stoked to share them with the world alongside Jon’s insight into shooting these paradise scenes.

Balaram Stack rolling into first reef from a second reef bomb at Pipeline. Photo: Carter.
Evan Geiselman loving that tropical blue water at Pipeline. Photo: Carter.
Eastside surf check with my father in-law. Photo: Carter.
Freddy Patacchi can handle six foot lips at Pipeline. Can you? Photo: Carter.
Haleiwa from the harbor channel. Photo: Carter.
Who doesn't like watching Hawaiian sunsets after an evening session at bowls? Photo: Carter.
Mark Healy getting a up and close look at the master, Michael Ho. Pipeline, Hawaii. Photo: Carter.

S&A: Return trips to Hawaii are extremely close to you and your family’s hearts. What does it mean to you to return to the Land of Aloha?

JC: It’s always special to go back to Hawaii to visit and see all of our family and friends. I really enjoy spending all the time with my family out there and catching up. To me, that’s what it’s all about! It’s always going to be like home to me and my family! There’s no other place like Hawaii in this world!

S&A: I can see you have a passion for shooting Pipeline. What is your favorite aspect of shooting surfing’s biggest stage?

JC: Yeah, I love shooting Pipeline! It’s such an awesome, powerful wave and the fact that it breaks so close to the beach makes it so everyone on the beach can feel the energy of the ocean and the excitement of all the surfers in the water! It’s just an amazing place to be able to shoot photos. I also love that they are so many angles you can photograph it from. It’s definitely the most photographed wave in the world for a reason.

S&A: It looked like it was overcast in photos like the one of Freddy Patacchia on that deep bottom turn. What’s your approach to overcoming lighting challenges?

JC: This day was during the Volcom Pipe Pro contest and it was an overcast day with the sun coming in and out. In these type of conditions, I’m always having to play with my ISO and boosting it up some; that usually does the trick, but when you’re shooting such high-shutter-speed action shots, it can be tough sometimes. For this shot of Freddy P., I set up farthest down the beach past any other photographers to get a different angle that day. This wave almost killed him and he was pretty lucky to walk away! A second after this shot it destroyed Freddy and broke his board into three perfectly cut pieces. It looked like it had been sawed perfectly. This shot went viral online with Surfer Magazine and I was pretty stoked! So I guess it was worth the walk down the beach to try and capture something different!


Parallel stance, GoPro in mouth and still comes flying out! Jamie O'Brien, Pipeline. Photo: Carter
John John Florence flying high on his way to the big check at the Volcom Pipe Pro. Photo: Carter.
G.I. Joe would go! Eastside Oahu, Hawaii. Photo: Carter.
A look into both worlds. Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Photo: Carter.
Kelly Slater starting his morning off right with a perfect 10 ride at Backdoor during the Volcom Pipe Pro. Photo: Carter.
Views on the Eastside never get old, its magical! Photo: Carter.
My son Noah, stoked on his souvenir from Balaram Stack. Photo: Carter.
The love of the ocean is something my son and I can't deny. Eastside Oahu, Hawaii. Photo: Carter.
S&A: Hawaii has diverse and dramatic landscapes. It’s got to be a photographer’s dream to shoot around the Island, but out of everything outside of the surf, what’s your favorite to shoot and why?

JC: Hawaii really is something to see once in your lifetime. You just can’t describe the landscape there until you see it with your own eyes! The one thing that always impresses me the most and never can take my eyes off of it, is the Ko’olau mountain range on the east side of Oahu. I love trying to shoot these mountains, but the camera just doesn’t do it justice! Like I said, you have to see it to believe it!

S&A: Delve more into the water shot capturing the reef below and the mountains in the distance. I really dig the contrasting worlds above and below the surface.

JC: For that shot I paddled out into the middle of Kaneohe Bay on the east side in front of my father in-laws house. I had been always wanting to try and get a cool looking over/under shot from out there and finally got something I love. This is the view you see from their house every day, as they live right on the water. I figured they would enjoy this view as it’s something different and I’m getting a huge canvas print of this shipped to them as a “thank you” for letting us stay with them and always taking good care of us when going back to Hawaii.

S&A: Of all the insane surf photos in this set, one of my favorites is the tiny little peeler with the beach and some trees as the backdrop. Tell us more about that wave and how you became inspired to shoot it.

JC: This was just a fun family day and we had taken the kayaks and paddleboards over to Chinaman’s Hat Island. I had taken my camera and water housing along and when we got back I decided to lay down on the beach — somewhere in Kaneohe Bay– and capture these perfect tiny peelers that would be perfect to surf if you and I were G.I. Joes. I was pretty stoked the way this came out too, especially with the greenery in the background! G.I. Joe would go!

S&A:  I can see your son, Noah, is taking on a love for the ocean! What does it mean to you to teach him about the ways of the water?

JC: My son loves the ocean and it’s so awesome to teach him and experience it with him! The crazy thing is, he’s not scared of it at all! I just try and teach him to respect and understand it. It means the world to me that he loves the water!

S&A: Anything else you’d like to add?

JC: Thanks to S&A for putting this together and it’s always a pleasure working with you guys! Aloha!

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