Foreword & questions by John Streit. Photos & answers by Mickey McCarthy.

This edition of our In Depth photography series covers the following equation: ESA x 808 x 2M = Hawaiian radness! The legendary Outer Banks craftsman and photographer, Mickey McCarthy, was recently invited by the Eastern Surfing Association to shoot three groups of their all-star team in our sport’s ultimate proving ground: Oahu, Hawaii. When 2M’s Facebook page began blowing up with crisp images of the East Coast’s rising stars shredding surfing’s motherland, we couldn’t help but to catch up with Mickey to learn more about his trip!

When shooting on the North Shore, you're likely to line up a surfing superstar. Here's Jamie O'Brien having some fun at home. Photo: McCarthy.
Backlit and flying into the teeth of the wind, Virginia Beach all-star Jordan Montgomery finds a sweet spot. Photo: McCarthy.
An unidentifed shreed banks a vertical turn at Makaha on Oahu's Westside. Photo: McCarthy.
A big Makaha wall rolls in from the west. Photo: McCarthy.
Outer Banks all-star Nohea Futrell lets it fly on the inside. Photo: McCarthy.
Outside! Velzyland. Photo: McCarthy.
Parker Sawyer grinds out a big turn behind some Hawaiian power. Photo: McCarthy.
A smaller-sized day at Backdoor Pipeline. Photo: McCarthy.
Ocean City, Md.'s Simon Hetrick digs in. Photo: McCarthy.
Sunset Beach displaying its patented power. Photo: McCarthy.
Perfection at V-land. Photo: McCarthy.
Waimea Shorebreak. Photo: McCarthy.
Yokohama Bay. Photo: McCarthy.
Yokohama Bay. Photo: McCarthy.

S&A: I know you are a longtime return visitor to Hawaii — particularly Oahu’s North Shore. How special is it for you to be able to shoot “The Seven Mile Miracle?”

2M: This was my third trip to the North Shore this season — two of which I did with my good friend, John Wright — those trips were in December for the Pipe Masters. On this ESA All-Star trip, we got to see a different side of the “The Seven Mile Miracle.” A lot of sand has moved onto the reef, so on smaller days, it was almost like some big Lighthouse grinders. There is way more variety here than you would think.

S&A: This time around, you were on assignment shooting three groups of ESA All-Stars on developmental trips to surfing’s ultimate proving ground. What does it mean to you to capture these up-and-coming talents at such an iconic location for our sport?

2M: What an honor and thrill it was to be asked to go on this trip! The ESA and it’s all-stars did a top-notch job on logistics to put this together. They sent in three groups, staggered, to keep down the people in the lineup. I was in surf photographer’s heaven! I had a ton of rippers in some of the worlds best waves. I was stoked to see them step up and charge the surf hard! They represented the ESA well! They also showed the locals that the Right Coast has a very promising generation of world-class surfers coming up.

S&A: Describe the best day of surf that occurred during your trip. Which all-star impressed you the most when the surf was at its best?

2M: The best day of surf for the guys was at Velzyland. Though this spot can be localized and make you think of bringing out the 600 mm lens, we were fortunate to have Tamayo Perry take us there for a clinic. Once the locals saw Tamayo, it was all cool — no problems — and everybody proceeded to tear the perfect bowls to shreds. Stand out surfers for me that day were Parker Sawyer, Simon Hetrick and Gabe Morvil. The best day with the all-star girls was hands down the legendary surf at Makaha. What a beautiful side of the island with the best water color I have ever seen! Georgia Cook and all-star mentor, Jo Picket, really charged on some good size sets with Jo getting one of the longest rides I saw on the whole trip.

S&A: It looked like the Westside had it’s moments during your trip as well. How does the vibe differ on this side of the island than its famed neighbor to the north?

2M: One of my bucket list spots — one of those legendary places I’ve always wanted to see. Well, the Westside has a vibe about it. It’s known to be a rough place and the locals don’t like to see you showing up at their breaks. I found that really wasn’t the case! The locals were so family-oriented — grills, tents and tons of kids gave nothing but good vibes. Show respect for their places, don’t try to ride every wave you see and you probably won’t have any problems. There are some really good waves on this side, with favorable winds and awesome water color. It doesn’t rain as much on the lee side of Oahu, so things are not as green as the other side of the mountain. There are great hikes all the way out to the tip of Ka’ena Point.

S&A: Outside of the surf, what are some other subjects you enjoy shooting in Hawaii?

2M: That’s what is so special about the place. If you’re a photographer, everywhere you look you can see a photo. I love to shoot the mountains on the windward side — massive walls, thousands of feet straight up. Clouds, palm trees, beaches or the constantly changing views you get while driving around make for great photos.

S&A: The sheer amount of quality waves on Oahu never ceases to amaze me. Which spot is your personal favorite to shoot?

2M: I have two new favorite spots: one is Velzyland and the other is Makaha/Yokohama Bay. My regular favorites would still be the Pipeline to Off the Wall area, with a little Rocky Point too!

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