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Sirens, photos by Liz Cockrum

Liz Cockrum, Sirens, surf photos of women and surf culture

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Unknown girl, Cardiff CA, photo by Liz Cockrum
Unknown girl, Cardiff CA - Photo: Liz Cockrum, /


Sirens - Liz Cockrum's Photographic Study of Women's Surfing & Surf Culture
JettyGirl Art, Photography & Culture

Liz Cockrum photo by Stephanie Dana
Liz Cockrum portrait © Stephanie Dana

Sirens started 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
  Read sample book pages here: Andrea, Jeanette

"Most 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 image."

-Liz Cockrum on choosing to work with film over digital equipment


JettyGirl: We thought this would be a great place to hear from surfers that have worked with Liz on her Sirens project. Read on...

Cori Schumacher
"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."

Andrea Holeman
"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!"

Maria Cerda
"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."

Kaley Swift
"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 live in."

Julie Cox
"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 story."

Diana Brummett Hansen
"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."

Lulu Erkeneff
"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."

Jen Smith
"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."

Jeannette Prince
"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."

Kassia Meador
"Liz is a great photographer with a passion for surfing and shooting photos. I had a great time shooting photos with her."

Jill Hansen
"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!!!"

Special Note:
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: and

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Additional Resources:

Liz Cockrum

Liz Cockrum's Blog

Stephanie Dana Photography

Julie Cox Surfing

Holeman Surf Designs

California Surf Museum





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