The US Open is as chaotic as surf contests get. You will never see more people show up to watch a surf event, and the number one person they come to see is Kelly Slater. It can be really hectic trying to shoot photos with a crowd like that. Luckily, Surfing Magazine lets me do my own thing and doesn't require a particular number of images per day or anything. They just want me to get some different perspectives from the online galleries and run-of-the-mill Instagram photos.
The most important aspect of this shot was making friends with the security team – they can be stingy no matter what kind of pass you have, but in this case I was allowed to run behind Kelly as he entered the water for this heat. I didn't have a pole cam or anything, I just held the camera up as high as I could and hoped the focus and composition worked out right. Normally I fail in these situations, but with a 24mm lens it's a little easier to hold it up there and guesstimate what you're shooting.
When I checked the LCD screen after, I was really psyched and saved it for the magazine. Of course, it ended up caught in a page cut and never saw the light of day, but it's still one of my favorite lifestyle moments I've ever shot. Plus, of course Kelly went on to win the contest and $100k!