After Ebola, Surf’s Up Again In Liberia

It’s a hot Saturday afternoon in Robertsport, a sleepy fishing town a few hours’ drive up the coast from Monrovia, Liberia, and a group of boys are watching their peers compete in the town’s annual surfing championship. About 50 locals have shown up to watch the show. When the surfer finally finds a wave he likes and rides it along the coastline, the crowd cheers and throws sand in the air.

It’s a far cry from a year ago, when the Ebola crisis brought the country to a near standstill. By last January, Ebola cases in Monrovia had begun to fall, but the area around Robertsport had become the site of a renewed outbreak. The surfing competition was canceled for the first time in five years.

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Images: Carielle Doe for NPR


Surfs Up

“Firstly, I’m a surfer and have always had a strong connection with the ocean. It’s a beautiful, dangerous, ever changing landscape that has an effect on everyone. Ask people about some of their most vivid memories of a wonderful time in their lives and the ocean will be in there somewhere.”

Two years ago, Chris Duczynski bought a drone—and his photography has never been the same. Attaching a gimbal and a Go-Pro he was able to shoot high above the ocean, getting shots of surfers and the waves, often getting aerial images never seen before. Attracted by the color and patterns of the water, including the churning sand, green seaweed covered reeds and frothy foam, he thinks the surfers paddling through the water give the abstract images a reference point. “From up above, the shots baffle some viewers because the ocean bed may be green or yellow and just below the surface, so it looks like some surfers are paddling upward on cliff faces. Then, all of a sudden, they get it—that’s what I like, when they go, ‘Yeah, I get it.'” Duczynski is always looking for rocky beaches with a lot of surf, since they give the best contrast and color.

For those interested in getting into drone photography, he says, “Do what you’re interested in, and don’t copy anyone—they’re probably already doing it better than you anyway. Do it for yourself. Develop a style and work on that. It’s fun and fulfilling, and when you get the magic shot where it all comes together, it’s just such a buzz.” Also, he says, be prepared to lose or crash your drone. It’s painful, but it happens to everyone.

See more photos from Chris in his Your Shot gallery