Reflecting on a New Venture. Part Two: My Truth by Chris Grant of Jettygirl.com

My Truth - by Chris Grant, Publisher of Jettygirl.com

“The only reason a guy would hang with girls is either to f*** with them or to f*** them.” –Female surfer friend of mine talking to me about another guy

[frame_left src="https://www.jettygirl.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/oside.0276-200x300.jpg" href="https://www.jettygirl.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/oside.0276.jpg"]Love, Light & Magic. © Chris Grant[/frame_left] When I first heard those words leave her mouth, I semi-laughed at the phrase before it hit my brain, “Hey, I hang out with female surfers a bit …is that what people think of me too?” On my drive home after speaking with this particular surfer I did a quick reflection of things I have actually heard over the years of operating Jettygirl Online Surf Magazine. I’m sure there have been many more that I haven’t heard. The year was 2006 and we had virtually just kicked off Jettygirl. Following an in-depth interview I filmed a walking up the beach sequence of a still-mic’d-up pro surfer who mused to her good friend, “Who is this guy and do you think he’s for real?” As her words echoed in my headphones I was frankly a bit disheartened and hurt at the question of my true motives. In the years that have followed I now realize there is some history behind that question. Since running Jettygirl I have seen virtually everything that female surfers face in a very different light. In the social spectrum of things I would fall more on the quiet side of the fence and as such find myself spending as much time observing people’s expressions, interactions and body language as I do in lively conversations. While those traits don’t really serve me well at a dance party, they’ve been beneficial to seeing the larger picture as a photographer. It always surprises me that despite swimming around with a big ole’ camera while wearing a helmet emblazoned with Jettygirl stickers, I almost seem to be invisible in the lineup. Perhaps mistaking me for a seal, walrus-like old surfers will paddle behind a bikini-clad surfer girl barking and bellowing at “what they would do to her” given the chance each time she duckdives under an oncoming wave. Would they really? Given the chance? I don’t think so and I’m almost positive they would be less than thrilled about some other old carp talking about their daughters in that manner. So where do I fit in? Why am I, a 45-year-old male surfer running a website catering to female surfers? What is my motivation? What makes me any different than some of the other dudes in the parking lot, whose sunglass-covered eyes praise your cutback while secretly hoping that you have a towel mishap while changing out of your wetsuit? To answer a few of those questions, our original mission statement in 2006 provides some clues. “Jettygirl Online Surf Magazine is focused on delivering inspirational photo galleries, high performance surf video clips and in-depth interviews with professional surfers, artists, free thinkers and legends of the sport.” To condense it even more, as I spoke into the microphone a few evenings ago at the San Diego Surf Ladies’ Board Shorts Surf Film Festival, “Jettygirl exists because the girls are ripping and they deserve much more than a cheesy bikini shot in the mainstream surf magazines.” In short, the “why” is that I feel and have felt for a long time, that female surfers and the image of female surfing has been ripped off, distorted and hijacked by brands and companies whose empowerment slogans and taglines are little more than sugar-coated candy …sweet at first but short on true substance. As a guy running a girls’ surf site, I try my best to stand back and reflect what the girls are doing in surfing instead of presenting my own views as truth. In my opinion it would be stupid for me to stand in front of the line and sell you a bill of goods of what I think women’s surfing is or what it should be. Your experience as a female surfer is and always will be different from mine. I simply want Jettygirl to be about you, not about Chris Grant. [frame_right src="https://www.jettygirl.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/chris.rhona_-205x300.jpg" href="https://www.jettygirl.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/chris.rhona_.jpg"]Rhona & Chris Grant, 1991.[/frame_right] To answer any misguided assumptions that shooting with female surfers is somehow a means to score a date or something, I can assure you that it has not nor ever will be the case. I’ve been in love and married to the most incredible woman I’ve ever known for a few decades now and we’ll be celebrating our 21st Anniversary this summer. Although she is not a surfer herself, her support has been the number one reason Jettygirl has lasted this long. I really enjoy working on the Jettygirl project but if my wife ever felt that it was somehow detrimental to our family, I’d pull the plug on it in a second. I absolutely love and cherish Rhona. She is everything to me. In closing, contrary to the opening quote by my surfer friend, I’m here to tell you that this particular male doesn’t care about any of that. I’m not here to mess with heads and I’m certainly not interested in using Jettygirl as a dating service. My sole and only purpose with Jettygirl.com is to showcase what’s going on in women’s surfing …whether bikini or fullsuit, grom or grandma, skinny or living large, longboarder or shortboarder …the details really don’t matter to me. The truth does though, and this is mine.
Additional Resources: Reflecting on a New Venture, Part One: Kim Mayer, the Original Jettygirl

Reflecting on a New Venture. Part One: Kim Mayer, the Original Jettygirl

Kim Mayer, Jettygirl Online Surf Magazine cover, volume 1, number 1. Photo by Chris Grant.Photos & Words by Chris Grant | Presented by InsuranceSurfers.com In 2003 for no apparent reason that I can recall, I registered the domain name JettyGirl.com. Wanting to revisit a hobby I hadn't done much since high school, in the spring of 2005 I gathered together as many coins as I could find and purchased a Canon 20D along with a lens that was better known for bird photography than for surf photography, the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L. At times it's been humbling to set up my gear between professional photographers and their 600mm behemoths and at others I've been asked by a few pro surfers why I'm using such a small lens on a particular day. Overall though, I have to admit that this quirky little "bird" lens has treated me well these past six years. On July 21, 2005 I was standing on the beach at Oceanside Harbor taking photos of a couple of good friends. Midway through the session I caught sight of a young female surfer on a bright orange Ambrose speeding along an inside right. Nothing excites a surf photographer more than watching a surfer carry speed because you know when a section looms up, something good is going to happen ...so I quickly tracked her through my camera as she approached a foamy, little closeout section. Kim Mayer, the original Jettygirl, throws tail off the foam in Oceanside. Surf photo by Chris Grant of Jettygirl. I would have never guessed it at the time but Kim Mayer's energetic tail throw off the foamy section would become the first stepping stone toward the future launch of JettyGirl. I can remember this turn like it was yesterday and as I searched the outside peaks, I discovered that Kim was not alone but was surfing with a talented group of women that included Kyla Langen, Prue Jeffries, Claire Bevilacqua, Kassia Meador, Mary Bagalso, Summer Romero, Malia Fuertes and CJ Soto. After this first session I became friends with this crew (except for Claire who I didn't meet in person until 2006) and we began to shoot occasionally when they were in town. At the urging of someone, probably Kyla Langen, I began sending in some photos to Sunshine Makarow's fantastic surf magazine, Surf Life for Women. Sunshine gave me my first chance and she started using some of my images in her surf mag, even crediting one of my photos of Sofia Mulanovich to Jim Russi to which I'm still honored years later. My mind goes blurry at this point but I believe in late 2005, both Surf Life for Women and SG Magazine shut their doors for good ...which left the United States with exactly zero surf magazines geared toward female surfers. I couldn't believe that I had found a nice surf photography niche and it had disappeared right when I was getting started. More than that though, these talented friends of mine had lost two important publications that had reliably showcased women ripping in waves big and small on boards long and short. The wheels in my mind began to turn... what was that domain name I had registered a while back... JettyGirl? Could I possibly do anything with that? Kim Mayer off the top at Oceanside Pier. Surf photo by Chris Grant, Jettygirl.com. Thank the Lord for the long lines at Disneyland for it was while standing in line after line that my wife and I discussed creating a little online surf magazine for women. By now it was a foregone conclusion that the name would be JettyGirl and we set about getting it launched by January 2006. Our original idea was to provide in-depth coverage of one girl each month and when it came to who was going to be our first subject, there was one person in my mind who deserved it more than anyone else, Kim Mayer. I can't overstate this fact ...if there was no Kim Mayer doing that little tailslide in front of my camera earlier in the year, there would never have been a JettyGirl. Kim is epic in every way! She absolutely shreds in the water, is simply dripping with style, owns the most endearing of laughs and has a smile that lights up any room she enters. (Sidebar: I've railed on the surf industry plenty for being narrowly focused and shortsighted in who they give support to but nowhere have I seen them blow it more than in the case of Kim Mayer. The girl has it all ...brains, beauty (inside and out) and blistering turns and it's been ridiculous to see someone of her caliber without a major sponsor during her career. Props to Hotline Wetsuits for recognizing true talent and for supporting Kim with wetsuits all these years. I wish at least one of the clothing companies would have had your same foresight and wisdom.) Santa Cruz surfer Kim Mayer with a smile that would light up any room. Photo by Chris Grant of Jettygirl Online Surf Magazine. Instead of following a chronological series of events in the development of JettyGirl, I'm going to bounce around with this ongoing feature ...sometimes posting stories while at other times just sticking a photo on the wall with a simple caption. Thank you for reading this first installment of "Reflecting on a New Venture" and thank you for all of your support for our little grassroots project. Without all of you readers we wouldn't be continuing and without you Kim, we would have never even started.