We started to hear from photographer David Berthet often during the early days of COVID-19, when surf bans and closed beaches were eerily normal in several parts of the world. The beach breaks near him in Hossegor were firing often but completely empty, and Berthet would make a point to capture regular morning glimpses of them and fill up our inbox during every swell. Even then the images felt like they’d be indelible memories of the surfing world during the pandemic — the world’s best waves regularly rolling through with nobody in sight to track them down.
We all know empty waves exercise our mind-surf abilities best. So it’s fair to say Berthet has become a master of capturing them, and it’s no surprise that’s exactly what he shared with us when we asked him to pick out a favorite image for this All-Time feature – offshore, barreling, a solitary surfer soaking it all in, undoubtedly already tallying his soon-to-be-wave count. It’s the kind of moment we all wish for at one time or another: strolling up to a lineup of open barrels and the strong current is the only thing you have to fight for waves.
“I was up on a dune and this set approached,” Berthet told The Inertia. All of the sudden, “on my left comes a surfer who seems to be looking for his own peak for the day.”
He knew the image he wanted before it happened. If the next set would roll through in time, the lone surfer just might walk into Berthet’s frame.
“There are days when luck is with you. The set arrived and the guy was in the perfect place.”
Editor’s Note: Our new series, All-Time, showcases images that stop us in our tracks, from sessions we’d all like to have experienced. Only on rare occasions do nature’s infinite variables align. It’s even more unusual that photos capture the essence of that moment. If you’re sitting on an image (or two) from surf or snow that you think fits the description above and you’d like to be featured, shoot your photo with a few sentences about the day to firstname.lastname@example.org