Jon Carter, in his element.

Foreword & questions by John Streit. Photos & answers by Jon Carter.


I always love shooting with Jeff Myers and all his colorful boards. On this day we chose Jennette’s pier as a backdrop.

Yet again, my addiction to surfing and surf media converged on Facebook, as it often does — for better and for worse. This time it was definitely for the better. The creativity, passion and energy that springs from Jon Carter’s photographs easily caught my eye the first time I saw them on my computer screen. Just like that, I became a faithful follower of his work. It was awesome to learn the connection Jon has with Surf & Adventure Co., being great friends with alum and fellow Outer Banks local Matt Price as well as owner Rob Lindauer. It’s been great talking to Jon over the past week or so; both in learning about his approach to shooting surf and just being in the presence of an all-around great guy. Enjoy the Q&A!


When you have waves and water color on the Outer Banks like this, it makes shooting in the water so fun!

S&A: There always seems to be a moment of awakening for the surf photographer. When did you first realize that shooting waves — not just riding them — was a passion?

JC: I’ve always loved photography since I was a young kid and remember when my Dad gave me my first Nikon 35mm film camera as a kid. I’ve always loved surf photography and was always fascinated with it since reading all the surf magazines as a young kid. Years ago, I severely separated my shoulder surfing and was out of the water and did rehab for six to eight months. That was a really tough time for me and that’s when I figured if I can’t surf, I’ll at least shoot pics of it. That’s the time when I realized that I enjoyed shooting the surf as much as I did surfing. I’ve never stopped shooting the surf since and don’t plan on stopping. Now I just have to decide when to shoot and when to surf — that’s the hardest part.


A classic bottom turn and Barry Price just go together! This is one of my favorites.

S&A: What is it about the Outer Banks that make it so photogenic?

JC: The Outer Banks is just such a beautiful place and when you live in such a beautiful place, it makes shooting that much easier. The colors in the early mornings with the sun coming up over the ocean or the sun setting over the sounds is just extraordinary. Sometimes pictures can’t even do it justice… but I try. The sunsets and the colors you get on the Outer Banks are world-class and there’s a reason so many people come here from all over the world. It’s just a very special place!


My hometown, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Nuff said!

S&A: I understand you have spent time living in Hawaii. What brought you out there and what ultimately brought you home?

JC: Yea, I spent eight years living on the island of Oahu. In 2004, I moved out there with my awesome girlfriend, Nikki — now wife — whose family is from there. When you get a chance to move to Hawaii, you don’t pass it up, especially if you surf! I was very fortunate and got a really fun job with T&C Surf, where I became a manager. I owe a big mahalo to the T&C ohana for taking me (Da Haole Boy) in and really giving me a chance! Working for T&C Surf really opened lots of doors for me in the surf industry in general and as a photographer. I did lots of photography for the surf and bodyboard team and learned a lot and made lots of great friends that I call family. In 2011, my son, Noah was born in Hawaii and that was one of my greatest days of my life! Around the time my son was one year old, my wife and I moved back to the Outer Banks to be closer to family and raise our son here. Leaving Hawaii was very tough and we really miss our family and friends from there so much, but we do get to go back and visit in the winters. We now live in Kitty Hawk, where I grew up and where all my family is from. My wife also has her Mom in Virginia Beach, and its nice to be close to her too. The Outer Banks is a great place to raise a family.


Matt Price is always smiling in the water except when he’s laying down turns like this at Kitty Hawk Pier.

S&A: Who is your favorite subject to shoot?

JC: Slater and I are pretty tight. We’ve been flying back and forth to Fiji lately… Yeah right! For real though, there’s so many guys and girls, I love to shoot all of them! I absolutely love the guys and girls that take the time to network with me to shoot. I get stoked when I nail a sick shot and just as stoked when the surfer is thankful and as stoked as I am! If you’re out there ripping, the camera’s gonna be pointed your way, for sure. I also love capturing the stoke of all the groms too!


Quentin Turko is one of my favorite surfers to shoot and he’s very smart too. He knows how to get above the lip to get all his sponsors in.

S&A: Outside of surfing and waves, what do you like to shoot the most?

JC: I love to travel and shoot landscapes and just about anything else. I also love playing with long exposures at night and taking pics of my son as he grows. Oh yeah… babes too! (that’s what surf photographers do, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it). In photography you’re always learning new things and that’s what makes it so fun and interesting every time I pick up the camera. Recently I’ve been doing family portraits and some weddings too. It’s fun to do different things and learn from it. I’m always learning something new everyday, in life and in photography.


Speed blurs are fun to shoot when you have Morgan Leavel blowing by you.

S&A: Describe the challenges of shooting in the water.

JC: Shooting in the water is so fun and you get great exercise but it’s a tough task when there’s strong currents. Sometimes you might do a drift down the beach and not even get a shot, but you do again and again. I do love swimming and shooting for hours at a time. The bad part is that sometimes you’ll fire off several hundred photos and get home to find out you only nailed two or three shots and sometimes you might get nothing, but that’s just part of it. I can sit on the beach and nail every shot. I do that some days, but getting into the water is so fun and challenging. When you do get those keeper water shots, it’s worth it!


When I showed Bri Vuyovich this shot after her sesh, she had no idea she had almost got barreled by the backwash paddling back out in Kitty Hawk.

S&A: What was the gnarliest experience you’ve had swimming with the camera?

JC: I’ve been pretty lucky to never really have my housing nail me in my face. I’ve had some fun drags on reefs and quite a few good times going over the falls and getting slammed into the concrete packed sand we have on the East Coast. You seem to protect your housing more than yourself when you’re taking a beating. I use CMT water housings and they can really take a beating. I’ve had a few encounters being hit by the surfers as well. Lynn Shell got me pretty good this spring, bruised my hip and cut into my wetsuit. His board got pretty messed up and ripped the fin and fin box right out of his board. I was really bummed for both of us, but at least we were both okay! I’ve also saved a few people and help them in from rips while shooting and that always makes you feel good when you’ve helped someone!


Always humble on the land, but all business in the water, or when he’s flying over your head. Juan Carlos Gerena (aka. Burger) in Kitty Hawk.

S&A: What are your aspirations in photography, both in surfing and overall?

JC: I just aspire to be the best I can be in life and in photography and build on my photography skills. I’m always willing to learn new tips and ideas from other photographers and always like taking time to talk and help other photographers out. I’m just glad I get to do something that I love and thank God he gave me the gift of taking pics. Thanks to Surf & Adventure for giving me this opportunity to share some of my work and hope everyone enjoys it!


This family has no clue that this beauty is about to explode behind them during Hurricane Arthur. Surfline used the frame before this one, but I seem to dig this one more.

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