Daniel Pullen: Surf Photographer
Fueled by his passions for photography and storytelling, Daniel Pullen captures life in Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks. Daniel documents surfing, natural disasters, and the everyday lives of fishermen, educating others about the realities of living near the coast.
- Life here on Hatteras has always been ruled by
Whether it's weather moving in,
it could be ruled by the tides.
If the weather is really bad,
and we're in a moon phase and the tide gets high,
you can't leave the island at high tide.
I don't know if anywhere else where weather dictates
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It's important for me to document weather and everyday life
here because there's a lot of people that come to vacation
here, but they're only coming on vacation here
like in the season when the weather is nice.
The thing that I like about living here the most is just
Obviously the beach and the ocean.
For me its maybe educating people as to what Hatteras
is like and what it can be like year around,
but it's a really raw place.
I've been here on Hatteras for 39 years,
about a year two years out of high school,
I started buying disposable cameras
and that's kind of how it started.
Just shooting stuff that I liked
whether it was the lighthouse where I used to sit
in its location or we'd have a like storm of something
shooting photos of the damage from the storm.
Photographing weather was always there.
You had to deal with it.
It's in your face as soon as you step outside of your house.
You have to address it as soon as you leave your house
and hop into the car.
The way I got into surf photography,
I grew up surfing and body-boarding
so I was in it and around it all the time
and that was stuff that I was taking photos of.
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The feeling that I would get from surfing was,
it's cliché, but I mean yeah it is like a genuine,
it is part of it, like you're in a situation where
you don't necessarily have control.
You're just figuring out a way to maneuver in that
situations where you don't get hurt.
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When I'm out shooting, let's just take surfing for example,
I'm taking photos of peripheral things
and that might be my friends hanging out in the
parking lot or them hanging out on the beach.
Because there are moments happening there
that are just as important and let's just say
somebody in that photograph might pass away a year
You've got this image, you've captured somebody's soul
that might mean a lot more to me or their family
down the road.
- Surfing was everything to him, shooting surfing.
But even with surfing, it wasn't just the shot
of the guy coming through the wave.
He was just interested in human stories and telling stories.
When the fishermen project came around,
he took it as an assignment.
- There was an article that was coming out
in a newspaper down here called the Island Free Press.
And it was about Day of the Docks.
A celebration of Hatteras village recovering from
Hurricane Isabel and I was able to photograph guys,
charter fishing and commercial fishing.
- [Kate] All of a sudden he saw that, these guys
are like him.
They're not gonna have a long conversation with you
and he felt like that's how he was
and now he can tell their story.
- To me the Independent Waterman Project is important
because it gives you a glimpse into a commercial
Whether it's on the boat or out in the water.
- And then you're seeing, people passing away
and generations now being handed over to the grandson
or the granddaughter and you see this history happening
and you're starting to look back at these pictures
and you start to realize how important it is.
We weren't even aware of all of the hardships that
North Carolina fishermen and independent watermen face.
And as we become more aware of that,
the project takes on so much more significance
because it's become a project of advocacy.
- The life of a commercial fisherman really revolves
around the weather.
Weather dictates pretty much everything for them.
If the weather is bad, fish isn't being caught,
fish isn't being brought back to the dock
and then money is not being pumped into the local economy.
The main purpose for the independent watermen project is
to bring awareness to who are the people that are
For me the focus in photographing
it isn't necessarily the act of fishing.
It's the people that are involved with it.
Yes you have to show the fishing part
but you also want to show them, that's a fish house
with their friends and their colleagues
but their family as well.
There's such a big part of the community
here on Hatteras.
It needs to be celebrated
and also it needs to be protected as well.
- [Kate] It's been so incredible to see Daniel capture
not just the people of this place
but the beauty of this place in such a profound way.