Paul Nicklen: Swimming With Monsters
An assignment that calls for photographing surfers—from underwater—demands that a few survival techniques are learned first. After all, thousands of people, even experienced surfers, have drowned in the pounding surf of Hawaii’s coastline.
As an experienced ice diver with hundreds of immersions in challenging conditions, what surprised me most about swimming in the Hawaiian big waves was not the raw power of the water—water that crashes with enough force to toss you around helplessly, like a rag doll, limbs flailing, leaving you with your head spinning, disoriented, wondering which way is up. It was also not the fear of the jagged reef, waiting to shred you, only a few feet below the surface; or the real possibility of being taken “over