Dark Side Of The Lens – Mickey Smith / Astra Films

“My heart bleed Celtic blood, and I am magnetized to familiar frontiers, raw brutal cold coast lines for the wave riders to challenge. This is where my heart beats hardest. I try to pay tribute to that magic through photographs, wherever in the endless storms for rare glimpses of magic is winter" - Mickey Smith.

Cornishman Mickey Smith first published ‘Dark side of the lens’ in 2011 with Astra Films and is likely to have influenced several surf photographers to come let alone embody the spirit of those behind the lens in our cold Atlantic winter swells.

The awards listed below give you an idea as how well received Dark Side Of The Lens was at the time and it still retains the classic raw feel of Western Coasts of Ireland, in particular Lahinch.

Mickey Smith went on to be the bass player with Ben Howard and how won band Blaze of Feather but left his mark clearly on his much loved Irish surfing scene. “This place is really close to my heart,” he had said in a raw interview in 2015 with Huck magazine. “There’s just something about it that’s magical.” Mickey first set eyes on this spot in 2007, after months if not years of serendipitous wandering, guided by maps and prevailing swells. When he got back to the van with his crew, The Who’s ‘Baba O Riley’ was playing. The name stuck – not least because it’s also the name of Mickey’s nephew, who was in hospital on that very day and therefore on his mind. Riley’s wave is one of the most significant and photogenic waves unearthed by the Cornish waterman in the decade or two that he was scouring that outcrop of Europe. As a photographer, his work is about capturing moments that can never exist twice – crystallising elemental magic that without his being there would be lost forever. “Don’t get me started,” he says. “I could go into one of my hippie rants about how magical it is to find a wave like Riley’s. When the elements come together at a certain place and a certain time and you are there to bear witness, it’s the most incredible thing. It’s what I’ve been doing all my life.”

Darkly poetic in his narration, Mickey is able to capture the raw cold energy of our Winters and be true to his art in his translation as a lensman, ” I see life in angles, and lines in perspective, slight turn of the head the blink of an eye, subtle glimpse of magic other folk may past by, cameras help me translate, interpret and understand what I see, it’s a simple act that keeps me grinning.”

“An art from silent workhorses of the surfing world. There is no sugar or cliche, most folk don’t even know who we are or what we do or how we do it let alone pay us for it. I never want to take this for granted so I try to keep my resented keep simple, real and positive. If I only scrap a living, at least its living worth scrapping. If there is no future in it, at least the present is worth remembering.”

Winner – Best Cinematography, Rhode Island International Film Festival, 2011

Winner – Action Sports Category, Vimeo Awards 2012

Winner – G-Raid Driven Creativity award – Professional Category

Winner – Best Cinematography, 5Point Film Festival 2011

Winner – Grand Prize – Chamonix Film Festival 2011

Winner – Best short – New York Surf Film Festival 2011

Winner – Digital short of the Year, Surfer Poll

Winner – Relentless Short Stories 2011

Winner – Amstel Surf Film Festibal, Peoples Choice award

Winner – Best short, Sheffield Adventure Film Festival

Winner – Best International Short, Canadian Surf Film Festival

Winner – Best Short, Waimea Ocean Film Festival


Related content :

Ollie O’Flaherty at Mullaghmore – 2019 WSL Ride of the Year Entry


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January 03, 2019 — Wild Atlantic Surf Co Admin