Who Shot That: Ted Grambeau

The world’s most traveled surf photographer peels out his favorite photos.
By Derek Rielly

If you've ever fallen into Ted Grambeau's orbit you would've experienced a kind and gentle man with a travel fever that still burns, even after 30 years on the road.

I've known Ted since I first swung into the surf mag game and it's rare to find Ted at the small Gold Coast apartment he calls home. From the early days in Indonesia to west Africa and Micronesia, Ted is a pioneer of the best sort. He never names. He never tramples the places he's come to shoot.

Ted is a photographer in the style of Cartier-Bresson, his favourite as it happens, whose life goal goes beyond money (he has none) but to create images that… speak.

"Photography is a way of sharing your experiences but through your own creative signature," he says. "And that's why I love Henri Cartier-Bresson and Sebastian Selgado. They capture real moments and they have their signatures all over it."

Pro tip: use your keyboard to jump between photos
Lone paddle surfer in 20-foot surf
Lone surfer paddles over giant wave in southern Australia
Lone paddle surfer in 20-foot surf "This photo was taken after I chased one of the biggest low-pressure systems I've ever seen," says Grambeau. "This guy was paddle surfing alone, despite the 25-foot sets. Hard-core to the bone." © Ted Grambeau
Kelly Slater – Quiksilver Pro
Black and white portrait of Kelly Slater
Kelly Slater – Quiksilver Pro Grambeau isn't one to punch out volumes of photos. For him it's a stolen moment here; a sharp observation there. "This is a super powerful moment," says Grambeau. "Kelly's staring off into the universe while the madness unfurls around him." © Ted Grambeau
Matahi Drollet – Teahupoo
Fourteen year old surfer gets barrelled at Teahupoo
Matahi Drollet – Teahupoo "This is the biggest wave I've ever seen a 14-year-old catch," Grambeau says of Teahupoo local Manoa Drollet's little bro. "This kid is like the heir to the Teahupoo throne." © Ted Grambeau
Dane Reynolds – Cloudbreak
Dane Reynolds surfs Cloudbreak
Dane Reynolds – Cloudbreak "This is almost perfect in its arrangement of light. The black storms and the almost fluorescence of the water," says Grambeau. "And Reynolds completes the photo with his deeply set backhand bottom turn." © Ted Grambeau
Mick Fanning with a gorilla in Rwanda
Mick Fanning near a gorilla in Rwanda
Mick Fanning with a gorilla in Rwanda "This is from a sequence in Mick's film, Missing," says Grambeau. "You're not supposed to touch or get in the way of the gorillas but this guy was barrelling toward us. We were on a hill and everyone started falling over trying to get out of the way. It's great to experience nature without fences." © Ted Grambeau
Peter Mel – Teahupoo
Peter Mel gets barrelled at Teahupoo
Peter Mel – Teahupoo "This is from a big tow swell at Teahupoo," says Grambeau. "Two perfect waves came through. Mark Mathews got one, Peter Mel the other. These two beasts were just… glowing. They were electric. Mark got sucked into the vortex while Pete made his. Everything is just beautiful in this shot." © Ted Grambeau
Jeffreys Bay kaleidoscope
The view from a window at Jeffrey's Bay South Africa
Jeffreys Bay kaleidoscope "This is from a series called Room with a View," says Grambeau. "It's from the house of Billabong founder Gordon Merchant and all the reflections create this multiplicity of reflections. Everywhere you look are perfect waves." © Ted Grambeau
Dean Morrison – Western Australia
Dean Morrison gets barrelled in Western Australia
Dean Morrison – Western Australia "This is such a perfect wave. On this day there was Mark Mathews, Makua Rothman and Dean Morrison. These guys are so comfortable in Western Australia's ridiculously heavy slabs. And Dean's surfing is such a pleasure to the eye, such a clean assemblage of elements." © Ted Grambeau
Unidentified surfer at a southern ocean reef
A surfer rides a big wave in southern Australia
Unidentified surfer at a southern ocean reef One of Grambeau's great inspirations are the surfers who hunt oversized waves for kicks. "I like this photo because it has a whole lot of elements, incredibly good big surf and a hard-core local, maybe he's a fisherman or an ab diver, who do it without any fanfare. They actually shun publicity." © Ted Grambeau
The best lefthand point in the world
Empty wave in Africa
The best lefthand point in the world "This is one of the greatest wonders of the surfing world but it's a wave that's not a permanent fixture," says Grambeau. "And it's such a draining wave that people were getting swept two kilometres down the point without catching a wave." © Ted Grambeau
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