- Liz Cockrum's Photographic Study of Women's
Surfing & Surf Culture
Art, Photography & Culture
Liz Cockrum portrait © Stephanie
as a way for me to combine my passion for
photography and surfing, and learn more
about my new surroundings when I moved to
Cardiff from Chicago in 2007. My increased
awareness of the history of women in surfing
and their presence in today's line-ups sparked
an inspiration for me that lead to where Sirens is
today. When I look back at how far
women's surfing has come, and consider the
way it's still moving forward, I'm in awe
of the courageous women who are pioneering
this shift in both athleticism and culture.
By photographing different generations
of surfers for Sirens, I'm showing
viewers the past, present and future of
the evolution of women's surfing and surf
culture. Sirens is a celebration
of these incredible and inspiring individuals.
I know that it is unusual to have a body
of work about surfing without action shots,
but this is a purposeful decision.
Through portraits, landscapes and detail
shots I want to show a little-seen side
of surfing, and focus the attention on individuals
as an integral part of a culture.
My hope is that this series can go beyond
the surf world and teach people about a
unique subculture and the power of determination.
The goal with Sirens is to publish
a book of photographs and stories from the
surfers I've photographed. The gaps
I need to fill leave me far from being finished,
but it's OK if takes me another decade -
working on this project is an amazing experience.
I want to exhibit the work in galleries
and other appropriate venues while it's
in progress, and have a solo show to support
the book when it's all finished. --Liz Cockrum
sample book pages here: Andrea,
of the earlier images were shot with
my digital camera, so I was working
with a rectangle and taking a million
pictures and hoping for just one.
This year I've returned to my Hasselblad,
so I have a square - which for some
reason makes much more sense to my
eye than a rectangle. Working with
only 12 shots on a roll forces me
to slow down and think through each
Cockrum on choosing to work with film
over digital equipment
We thought this would be a great place to
hear from surfers that have worked with
Liz on her Sirens project. Read on...
"I was introduced to Liz through Julie
Cox. Right away, Ms. Cockrum's eyes told
me she was genuine, insightful and in awe
of the world around her. Since then, I have
added "warm and optimistic" to
the growing list of adjectives I use to
describe her. Her photography captures the
hidden moments between expressions that
tend to go unnoticed... in subjects and
in landscapes. When I gaze at her photographs,
I am reminded to never take what is directly
before me for granted."
"I met Liz over craigslist—"photographer
looking for surfer girls." It was pretty
much 50/50 she was legit or a scumbag. Turns
out that Liz is a talented photographer
that seems to me to excel in portraits.
She captures the essence of the person in
their own world, on their own terms. It's
refreshing for me to see someone documenting
our current surf life. So many surfers are
caught up in the past or which pro is winning
in the 'CT that our current lives are being
lost as we live them. Liz is preserving
the real story of female surfers—beautiful,
honest, strong, and stoked!"
"It was a pleasure to be photographed
by Liz. Being a photographer myself, I REALLY
do not like to be IN photos, but Liz's easy
going personality made me forget that the
camera was even there. She let it happen
organically and knew when to capture it.
All I had to do was be myself and go surf
which I LOVE to do."
"I had the pleasure of working with Liz recently
and she was nothing short of fabulous. She has
such a positive, upbeat and contagious personality
that you can't help but smile. I first met Liz
while at work (Patagonia
in Cardiff). We became friends that way and have
been hanging out a bit since. She is always up
for a good time, whether it be surfing, going
out, taking pictures, what have you.
"Liz is extremely
easy going and when you get to talking you feel
like you've known her for ages. She has the type
of personality that makes you feel right at home,
no games, she is who she is. It's rather refreshing.
Working with her was really fun too. You can tell
she is passionate about what she does and truly
enjoys it. It was amazing to watch her set up
her shot. A lot of thought and time goes into
the making of each image. It was refreshing to
see someone still using film (medium format at
that!) despite the fast paced digital world we
"Liz is such a down to earth, genuine girl.
It's refreshing to have a cool girl photographer
to work with. I love her ideas, her eye and the
fact that she's a total go-getter. She's come
to my house a few times and shot me in my personal
space, which I like because it tells more of a
"Liz is a delightful female. She is so very
passionate about her photography and I feel that
her style is to be appreciated. She has a wonderful
way of making a person feel at ease and tunes
into the "emotion" of the moment. I
love how enthusiastic she is about the surfing
lifestyle. Liz is one of those special people
who stand in the middle and reach out in all directions.
You could say she has an "old soul"
at a young age! I am glad she has touched my life.
I hope to ride some waves with her this weekend."
"Liz is a super
cool person, very relaxed and knows exactly what
she wants. We had a really fun shoot and she made
me feel comfortable. I think it's great that she
still uses film and it definitely shows in the
amazing images she creates."
"My experience with Liz has been great. She
is very dedicated to her work. Every time we have
set up a time to shoot she is always on time or
early. I'm always the opposite so she has ended
up waiting around for me once or twice. There
was one day when I met up with Kassi at her house
to go surfing and Liz was there shooting her and
her place. We ended up shooting photos and having
tea before surfing and then Liz came to the beach
with us to get some shots right before we paddled
out. It's nice to work with a photographer like
Liz that you are comfortable with. Certain people
can bring out and capture very natural and unstaged
moments. Liz is one of those people."
"Liz... the photographer; talented, creative,
passionate and driven by her self appointed projects.
The compositions she creates have a different
twist then what I've seen lately. Liz will successfully
stand on her own as she continues her artistic
approach to photography."
"Liz is a great photographer with a passion
for surfing and shooting photos. I had a great
time shooting photos with her."
"I met Liz at a surf museum volunteer night.
A true California surfer girl at heart, she exuberates
the soul of surfing! Working with Liz was a real
pleasure. She has such a great eye for photography
and original style that shows in her photos. She's
a rad chick and I hear she shreds!!!"
Liz' Sirens project
is ongoing and she's always looking for female
subjects of any skill level. If you're interested
and would like to get a hold of Liz, email
her here. And one more thing...Liz' photography
covers a vast array of subjects in addition to
Sirens, she has amazing photos all throughout
her website and blog. Take a few minutes and check
out both of her sites: lizcockrum.com