do vs. document

Excited, or stoked, or frothing, as one does with perfect surfing conditions forming, I ran from the parking lot through the tunnel, down to the beach. A few steps up the dune, and we stood for a second, confirming our theory that the swell, and the tide, and the wind, and the crowds, would cooperate to make this the best place to surf in the area. 

Phone in hand, I snapped one photo of the beach. I didn't care what was in it. I only did it to grab the location data, so I could later upload the photo into Waves - a sort of wave tracking/surf journal that uses photos as entries and pulls local buoy data based off of the photo's EXIF data.

I then shot one text to my girlfriend to tell her I was going in, ditched my phone in the car, suited up and ran back into the water for a few hours of the best waves I have surfed on Long Island in a long time. 

The entire session was gorgeous. Clean, green walls of water racing toward the beach, exploding in white foam. Silky grey-blue clouds to the East, vivid orange, pink, and violet light dancing off the bulbous clouds to the West. We stayed in the water as long as we could, soaking up every ounce of adrenaline manufactured by the ocean's power.

Back at the car, post-surf texts flew by - "SICK!" "IT WAS EPIC!" "ALL-TIME!" I partook in the gloating for a bit, and then, as if on cue, a friends asks "Got any pics?"

And all I had was this one photo. 

One lonely photo, barely capturing the beauty of the scene and magnitude of the swell.

One lonely photo, barely capturing the beauty of the scene and magnitude of the swell.

Earlier, I'd even considered bringing my DSLR, knowing that the conditions could be worth documenting. And therein, is my struggle. 

Do or document? 

Per my education and some of my career experience in production, I'm a documenter. I love shooting photos. It's fun to snap candid shots at parties, to capture epic vistas while traveling, or to hang out the back of a truck filming friends downhill skateboarding at night (Yes, I've done this). 

But, I'm also, and maybe more-so, a do-er. From work to play, I love getting my hands dirty, being in the action, and never worrying about a phone, camera, or any other device. I love surfing, and in theory, would love to shoot surfing photos and video as well. But when the conditions are good, I'm surfing. 100%. 

Sure, I guess GoPro allows one to document what you're doing, but even that requires you to bring the gear, and set it up, and turn it on, and angle the camera, and start recording, and deal with the kook factor, and and and... it's just not for me. 

Even writing this post. Documenting this mental dilemma, feels like I'm giving up time I could be doing something else. After all, most stuff on the internet isn't that original or profound to begin with... but what kind of slacker attitude is that? 

So, I'd like to find that balance that we all strive for in any of our lives. I'm lucky that my choice isn't work-life balance right now. It's the balance between doing and documenting. For the last year, I've done a lot, and I've documented a lot. And I'm only going to do more of both in the near future. Time to start actually sharing.

The adventure will really begin in November, but I'll be posting some of the past year's adventures here in the interim.