Life under the sea is a fascinating place, and when big waves are involved, the circulation of the swell creates unreal images, moments now captured on film by waterproof cameras. The challenge is being in the right place at the right time, without taking a huge set on the head or losing your camera gear. Marcio Canavarro seems to have it figured out. This underwater photographer and surf videomaker was born in Brazil and is currently on the North Shore of Hawaii to document the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing in addition to Pipe freesurf.
Canavarro’s days in Hawaii depend directly on weather patterns. He is assigned to shoot various elite surfers throughout the winter for magazines and surf sites, but says the freedives are just as exciting as following the pros.
“Turtles are pretty cool, too.”
“As a photographer, there’s no way for you not to stop and take some shots on the North Shore,” Canavarro told The Surf Channel. “We went to see how the reefs were at Pipeline. There wasn’t enough surf, the tide was too high, so we decided to go for a dive at Rocky Point. Everybody was up there, Ricardo dos Santos, Fabio Gouveia… but there was a lot of rip current pointing towards log cabins and Rocky’s rights. I paddled up on Rockies lefts, and I had to stay swimming non stop, and there was about 6-7 ft waves, a lot of wind… The spray of the wind blows on the camera and focuses on the water instead of the atheles. That sucks, so I went for a dive. Cool to see turtles.”
“I feel comfortable in and out of the water,” Canavarro told The Surf Channel. “I like to be in the water and I love to surf. I love to see the expression on my friends’ faces when they see a good photo of themselves surfing. I like to be in the water, and shoot. It’s fun to be out there with your friends, too, sharing waves.”
Surf photographers, the brave ones, tend to sit near the lineup so that they can get the perfect shot of a rider shooting out of a sick barrel. At Pipeline this year for the finals of the Billabong Pipe Masters, a giant set came through and on top of many of the photographers heads… Celebrated Hawaiian photographer, Zak Noyle, lost him camera on the biggest wave of the day. It closed the whole Backdoor and Off the Wall.
“I was the first one of the photographers to dive, the one with the two feet up in the air. Zack Noyle, the biggest photographer in Hawaii in my opinion, lost his camera and his gear washed out to the shore. Another European photographer had his housing equipment break and camera got soaked. Huge bummer.
“Many things go through your head in that one second (before you see a huge set coming), but I just wanted to pass it and was praying there wasn’t another even bigger one behind it.”
Josh Kerr (AUS) takes a gnarly wipeout during the Billabong Pipe Masters that send him straight to the North Shore hospital. Photo: Surf Channel/Marcio Canavarro
“We all thought he was done for,” Canavarro said. “But Kerr said he was very worried about a pinch in his neck, and his whole left side of his body went numb. It was just a nerve, so he took some meds and finished the contest surfing all the way through to the finals.” Talk about a Kerrazy Pipe Master.
“At Backdoor, there is no water. That’s how shallow it is,” Canavarro explains. “It is literally to your knees. Of couse, when you go deeper, there is water, but to swim out there, or if you get washed…. you go right to the dry reefs. That’s why everyone like to dive at Pipe. It’s easy compared to Backdoor.”
Canavarro’s job got him front seats to the greatest show in surfing at the Billabong Pipe Masters. Here’s a classic shot of Kelly Slater (USA) going right to Pipeline and Taj Burrow (AUS) spliting the peak heading right to Backdoor. Photo: Marcio Canavarro
For more images by Marcio Canavarro, visit: CanavarroPhotography.com