Kevin Mendez: Surf Photographer

Beyond The Frame

Welcome to another episode of Surf Bank's Beyond The Frame where we dive into the captivating world of surf and ocean photography, going beyond mesmerising captures exploring the backstory of many talented photographers. In this episode we will be hearing from Kevin Mendez a talented surf photographer from California now located just off Huntington Beach. Beyond the frame aims to inspire and inform future surf photographers and ocean lovers being your backstage pass to detailed insights from the minds behind stunning surf shots.

Kevin Mendez Gallery

What Did Your Childhood Look Like?

Growing up in Sonoma I developed a true love for exploring the outdoors and photography. The coast there is something straight out of an epic landscape painting. Surfing and roaming the Sonoma coast ignited this passion for taking photos of everything, from the waves to the rocky shores and the epic cliffs.

What Came First, Surfing or Photography?

Surfing came first. My favorite days were ones spent by the beach with my friends and family. Whenever I had a chance to be in the ocean I was absolutely ecstatic. The cold Northern California water never kept us from getting in ocean and enjoying some waves. We loved every second of it.

How Did You Get Into Surf Photography?

I was obsessed with surfing magazines and that helped spark my love for photography. The amount of surfing magazines I collected when I was young was crazy. I always hoped there would be a surfing poster in the magazine so I had tons of them all over my walls as a child. Once I got into my teens I always envied surf photographers, I'd see them with their cameras and giant zoom lenses and I couldn't wait to grow up just so that I could afford a nice setup for myself.

Where Do You Normally Shoot?

Now that I live in Huntington Beach I mostly shoot at the HB pier as well as surrounding local breaks. I always love going to The Wedge on a big day when the surf is pumping as well as many other breaks along the Southern California coast. Living in Southern California has been a treat and I have been lucky to experience some amazing swells since I have lived out here.

Photo By Kevin Mendez

Where Do You Shoot? Water or Land?

I mostly shoot from land. I love walking along the beach and finding different compositions to shoot wherever I am. I definitely want to do more work from the water though. I have recently been taking out my GoPro into the surf and swimming around in order to get shots of my friends surfing and that has been a really fun and immersive experience. Shooting from the water is not easy at all so I have tremendous respect for the water photographers.

What Makes The Perfect Image?

Any shot that truly captures the essence of the scene from that current moment. I love wider shots that showoff the landscape and allows the viewer to get a true feeling for what the vibe of that day really felt like. I do appreciate tight shots that show the fine details for the wave and the surfer, but there is something special about a shot that encapsulates the whole scene. So if you have shots of both you have something special.

How Did You Become So Involved In The Surf Scene?

I just picked up a camera and started shooting landscape photos as well as surfing photos. Once I started sharing my images on Instagram and posting videos on YouTube new opportunities within the industry slowly started to unfold. I was fortunate to meet many other amazing surfers and photographers who have helped me in many different aspects on this journey.

Do You Have A Favourite Photographer That Has Inspired You?

I have been inspired by many photographers but some of my favorites are Russel Ord, Chris Burkard, and Brian Beilmann. These guys are on another level and have created some of my all-time favorite imagery. I also love the films that they have created or been featured in. They have been a part of some epic art.

What's Your Biggest Challenge To Overcome When Shooting?

Gear choice! Too often I am unsure of whether I want to shoot with my zoom lens, or shoot with a wider lens, or use the drone. I feel like I need to quickly assess the scene and conditions as soon as I get out there and know how the weather patterns might change in order to help me decide the sequence in which I choose to use the those tools.

Photo By Kevin Mendez

Kevin's Equipment List

Camera & Lenses

Kevin always shoots with his Sony a7r v with a Sony 200-600/Sony 85 f1.4/Sony 24 f1.4 lens.

Kevin's Favourite Shot Taken

My favorite shot was at Fort Point in San Francisco. It is a wave that is extremely special given the fact it breaks under the Golden Gate Bridge which makes it a beautiful spectacle to see. The waves had some good shape that day and the lighting was spilling into the bay perfectly. I felt super lucky to be able to get the shots I did that day. I always love seeing that place break whenever it is good.

Photo By Kevin Mendez

Personal Message

My wish for the surfing world would be to get rid of the toxicity and ridiculous egos that are way too prevalent in the surf community. There are a lot of people who think they own specific areas and think they can tell people what to do whenever they want. People just need to move through life with respect and kindness towards other people.

I'd also like to give a shoutout to my friend and fellow surf photographer/videographer Brad Jacobson. He has a super awesome YouTube channel and has become a good friend of mine as well. Definitely check him out!

Kevin's Future Plans

My future plans are to grow as a surf photographer and as a surfer. I want to travel to new surf destinations and see waves I have never seen in person before.


You can keep up to date with Kevin's new projects and recent captures on his Instagram, as well as on TikTok, Facebook & Youtube.

Do You Want To Be Involved In Beyond The Frame?

Are you a surf photographer wanting your story told? You may be our next Beyond The Frame feature! Please get in touch with us over email so we can get a conversation going:

Photo By Kevin Mendez

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