A New Jesery State of Mind
Welcome to New Jersey
Photographer Mike Incitti has a well-earned reputation as being the man with the camera documenting the heaviest of swells on the coldest of days in New Jersey. Through whiteout conditions and freezing temperatures his images evoke a softer, more fun-loving side of an otherwise harsh environment. From Asbury Park (pictured) to Manasquan Inlet, Incitti's work embodies what the Jersey surf life is all about.
"His photos are unique. He's always sniping out new angles, new ideas and definitely puts a lot of thought into innovation, which is what Jersey needs. He's not necessarily looking to get the biggest wave or gnarliest sequence as much as he's trying to try new things," says Ocean City's Chris Kelly.
Hard offshore makes for dramatic photos, but imagine a 35-knot wind every time you shoot Clay Pollioni in a sculpted bowl.
In the last few years, as Incitti's career has been on the rise, there haven't been too many barreling swells without boots, gloves and hoods. But occasionally you still get them. Luke Ditella's warm memories.
Cold and Dark
This winter was the coldest in Incitti's years of shooting. And the sun seemed to set around 4:30, which didn't help matters.
Take Me To Funtown
Could anything look further from winter? Funtown Pier, during those careless summer days before Superstorm Sandy did a number on Seaside Park and Seaside Heights.
"This was one of those days when the ocean was on display. If you were lucky enough to be in the right spot, you saw brilliance in the form of waves. If you weren't, well ... sorry," said Sam Hammer.
When it gets this good for this long, eventually all surfers catch on and the whole "perfect and uncrowded" element of the stretch of coast disappears. Luke Ditella performs under the sunlight for a surprisingly large audience in the water.
"The great hypothetical surfing question," ponders Incitti, "would you trade warm air, clear skies, and appealing water color with crowds for this? Most people in New Jersey don't actually have a choice, but I would still take a lonely, frozen lineup like this over anything."
"Either we all fall into a trance, or are all just plain dumb. Every Jersey surfer thinks the beach to the right of where he is is better on a south swell, and the beach to the left is better on a north swell. I refer to this as 'angle-itus,'" Incitti laughs.
Sam Hammer's sponsor has a tagline that says, "Life is better in boardshorts." Hammer says it's better in a 5-mil.
January is traditionally down month before things light up in February and March. Luke Ditella breaks tradition in the twilight hours.
Aside from Sebastian Inlet and Hatteras Light, Manasquan Inlet is perhaps one of the best known spots on the East Coast and has been shot for years. Incitti finds a new angle.
Incitti is one of those crazies who actually gets in the water and shoots during the coldest months. This winter, the water dropped to the low 30s. You think Tom Petriken is cold with that red face? Think about the guy who took this shot.
New York State of Mind
Not exactly the environment of North County, San Diego, but the area surrounding Incitti's home state is a pretty interesting place.
When all of the fickle conditions come together, this is one of those days where it's just epic looking wherever you turn your head.
Last year, Margate's Zach Humphreys took his board to the face and lost an eye, for good. After a few surgeries and months of rehab he and Incitti were back at it in Baja, Mexico.
Goodnight New Jersey
"What's left to say?" asks Incitti. "It was an epic season."