'Surf Texas' explores Texas surf culture in new photo book
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 15 May, 2014 - Texas surf culture is unlike any other milieu in the world: a setting wherein cowboys, happy-go lucky hippies and extreme athletes converge for the search of the elusive “perfect swell.” With over 600 miles of coastline in Texas, it’s easy to see why the Gulf Coast is one of America’s top surfing destinations, and why photographer Kenny Braun chose it to be the backdrop of his first book Surf Texas (UT Press; Hardcover; March 2014).
While professional and amateur surfers alike flock to popular global destinations like Hawaii, South America and Australia, true Texas surfers know if they can’t cruise the perfect pipeline somewhere else they certainly can make the comparatively short trek to the Gulf Coast to be one with the waves.
“If you know when to look and if you look hard and patiently enough, it’s there,” says Braun about the hunt for high-quality surf along the coast. “No one would confuse the surf in Texas with some famous break on the Pacific Ocean, but that doesn’t matter,” Braun comments. “Texas surfers are as maniacally devoted to the sport as surfers are all over the planet.”
Surf Texas offers a distinctive look into the vibrant surf culture that dominates the coastal towns–from Galveston to South Padre and everywhere in between. “There is a certain reverence here – for a place and a people and a time – that allows the soul an important opportunity to pause and be charged anew,” Roy Flukinger, Senior Curator of Photography at the Harry Ransom Center, opines about the collection of photos that Braun acquired over a 15-year period for Surf Texas.
The black-and-white images evoke feelings of nostalgia and desire, capturing the essence of what it truly means to be a Texas Surfer. “There is the critical factor that Kenny’s imagery can also frequently awaken in us a certain yearning for an experience that we have long forgotten – or, indeed, may have never experienced,” Flukinger explains.
As readers pore over the 144-page photo essay, the stunning page designs by Pentagram Design –complete with surf charts correlating to the date of each photo–it is evident that Braun’s love of surf is unyielding. From photographs revealing the simple life of coastal cities to riders chasing and catching waves, Braun substantiates the notion that one can find beauty in unexpected places when looking through a passionate lens.
Kenny Braun grew up in Houston, only fifty miles from the Gulf Coast’s shores. It was through surfing Braun’s love for the Gulf Coast became an obsession. Braun’s work is included in numerous private and public collections including the Wittliff Collection at Texas State University.
As an editorial, commercial, advertising, and fine art photographer, his work can also be seen in Texas Monthly, Wired, Southern Living, Texas Highways, Spirit Magazine and more.