Q&A with Surf-photographer Craig Peterson

Craig Peterson was a teenage surfer-photographer in Huntington Beach when he was bitten by “The Endless Summer” bug. He set out in 1973 to find the perfect wave with his friend, writer Kevin Naughton, traveling the world for a decade and chronicling their adventures for Surfer magazine. The two will talk about their 2015 book, “Search for the Perfect Wave,” at the Newport Beach Public Library on Dec. 1. nbplfoundation.org

craig-peterson
Photograph by Priscilla Iezzi

On getting his parents’ permission…
I was already a (Surfer magazine) photographer when I was getting ready for a trip at 16, so my parents saw that I was on a good early career path. But they did have one caveat. I had to have a notarized parent permission slip, and the only way my mom would give me that letter was if I promised to come back from Central America for my high school graduation.

On memorable misadventures…
We had to take a bus to the capital city in Mali and get a train that left every four days. We ended up sleeping in the train station for four days on pieces of cardboard. Kevin got really sick. It was one mishap after another, but that’s what made for more stories.

On what teenagers learn from travel…
It gives you a sense of accomplishment that comes from exploring and putting yourself into an unknown circumstance and seeing you’ll survive it. I really wish kids could have one year off between high school and college to travel so they get a sense of how great the whole world is and how beautiful it is, and how people are so nice and generous and not unlike themselves.

On his friendship with Naughton…
We’ve had to rely on each other, and we went through some difficult times. Of course, we did get mad at each other. We have different personalities; I was more the rational, reasoning type and he was more go-for-it. But I wasn’t competing with him to be the better surfer. Sometimes that will break up guy friendships. He’s a better surfer than me. He had all this time on these perfect, great waves while I had to stand on the beach taking pictures. I only got to surf in the crummy conditions.

Facebook Comments