Surf Shacks 047 – Dylan Gordon
/ Matt 03.06.2017
I used to see Dylan as a goofy curly-haired kid with a wide grin full of braces all over surf breaks between Malibu and Santa Barbara, in the water and on the beach, always with a camera in hand, always stoked. He would later become the lucky heir to my backyard mini ramp. I told him if he could get it out of the yard, he could have it. Sure enough, he and his two buddies somehow managed to cut the whole damn thing in half, move it onto a trailer, and drive it up to Ventura from Venice, towed behind Dylan’s van (which he lived in at the time). Granted, it took two trips, but an incredible feat nonetheless. Dylan is now a well-traveled young man with a more refined style behind the lens—though he hasn’t lost the youthful glimmer in his eye and is still perpetually stoked. His live/work space in Ventura is a true reflection of his adventurous spirit and “down for whatever” personality.
Who are you? Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Dylan Lucas Gordon and I am currently a professional photographer of fun things.
Where are you from?
I grew up on the central coast of California on a little horse ranch for most of my life, and then for the last 7 years or so I have been based out of Ventura, California.
What do you both do for a living?
In general, I’m a photographer. The majority of my work is a combination of surf, travel, motorcycle and general fun lifestyle photography.
How did you first get into photography?
I used to travel a ton to compete in some skateboarding stuff, and during which I started to fall in love with documenting my friends and the places we found ourselves. When this started to take a bigger hold on me than skating, I took a bit of a break and started exploring a bunch of art mediums at a community college. Photography more than anything fit the bill of combining all of my needs and goals. Primarily being an open schedule and a full passport.
When did you begin to find success professionally as a photographer? Was there a particular turning point for you when it went from just a passion to profession?
After I graduated from college for Visual Journalism, I took a few months to strictly travel. I used this time to create a portfolio that was relevant to where I wanted to work. I lived out of my van and sent my work to every editor’s inbox address I could get my hands on. A few months later I managed to land myself a staff position at Surfer Magazine doing a vast variety of work which fit my personality perfectly. Telling stories in a variety of mediums and traveling to do so. That was a huge growing period for me.
You travel a lot. What has been your favorite destination for surfing? What about for not surfing?
This is a hard one. I’ve been to so many amazing places it’s always hard to settle on a favorite. Everywhere is different from the people we meet to the landscapes we explore. I think I’ve gotten my best waves in Australia, which isn’t that exotic, but such a good time. Not surfing? Man, this year alone… Vietnam really has my heart as a place that purely surprised me. I ended up going twice on back to back trips and each one was incredible. Bhutan was also insane, riding motorcycles across the Himalayas was incredible.
Give us a crazy adventure story (or two) from your adventures on the road.
I went back to Russia a couple weeks ago, which got me thinking about our last trip out there about a year ago when we went hunting for waves in a remote region of the east coast. We helicoptered in to this small river mouth point, and as we did we saw boats racing away but thought nothing of it. Turns out, these boats were full of local Salmon Poachers that were camped on this river mouth for the season. They saw us flying in, cut their nets and bailed. Later that day returned to see us surfing this little wave and were pissed they cut their nets for no reason. That night in the pitch black we got a little visit from one of them, holding his shotgun out at us and asking us what we were doing there and where our booze was. He went back to his camp, discussed with the boys whether they should kill us or bribe us. Turns out it was pretty early in the season, better chance to bribe us and keep hunting than kill us and have to bail from their cash crop river mouth. So our pal, came back to our camp a couple hours later, handed us a shotgun with one shell and told us not to get eaten by bears and bailed. He thought we were idiots to be out there, we were just stoked to have lived!
Out of everywhere your travels have taken you, what has felt like the most foreign destination and why?
Somehow I think Haiti a couple months ago must be the one. We went a day after Hurricane Matthew decimated half of the island to assess and implement clean water filter systems with an organization called Waves For Water. It was pretty eye opening, the chaos and severity of need that happens instantly to so many places in the blink of an eye and how much we take for granted at home.
What are your favorite parts about Ventura and the area in which you live?
Man, I love this place. Two minutes in one direction and we’ve got great waves, then two minutes in the other you’re in the mountains. I love that nothing changes, it’s slow, blue collar and mellow. No ego, no traffic, no industry, just good people.
How did you find your home here? What are your favorite parts of the home? Your space here is rad, it’s like the ultimate dude compound. What goes on here besides you having a place to lay your head at night?
I originally moved down to study visual journalism at a local institution, Brooks. Then met some incredible people and stuck around. The people here are what keep me sticking around. We have amazing waves and mountains but it’s the people that keep me in love with it. So many good folks always up to something fun or doing something creative in a humble and honest way.
The space is funny, I originally found it while flying back from Australia. I had been living in my van for over a year and was ready to have a work / live space. I found it and then immediately found two other guys to split it with. It was (debatably still is) rough living when we first found it. We had to build out most of the walls and clean the shit out of the rest. It’s still a work in progress but it’s come a long way and has developed a character of its own. It’s a fun place to have space to be completely creative. It has allowed me to explore a lot of mediums I probably couldn’t have if I were limited by space. Between wrenching on any and every kind of bike we can get our hands on to chemical experiments on film to building anything we need, she gives us a place to get it done.
Tell us about the Airstream. Got any plans for that puppy?
The airstream is a fun one! I wish I had more time to work on it, which has made it a slow going project, but there’s not far to go. She’s got good bones, she’s from 1966 and all I’ve really had to do is clean her up. I pulled out the old bathroom to make a larger bedroom and going to build a little out door shower / toilet. With the plans of buying or finding a little plot of land to post her up on somewhere locally. Live out of there and work out of the warehouse is the goal! Since I’m on the road most of the year, she’d be a good travel BNB as well while I’m away.
If your house was burning down and you could only get out with five items, what would you take?
Let ‘em go! I’ve accumulated too much junk. I’ve got all of my drives backed up. So besides my film, a bike or two and my van, I’m good to go.
Any parting thoughts, words of wisdom, sage advice?
Do more, give back what you can when you can and there is always time for a little more love.