Surf Texas: waiting for waves in the Lone Star State

Not everything’s bigger in Texas. When it comes to the Lone Star State’s surf scene, Texans just have to make do with something a little more modest than what you’d find in surf meccas like Hawaii or California. Even the waves themselves are on the small side most of the time. But as Surf Texas, a new photography book from Kenny Braun shows us, size isn’t everything.

Book cover for Kenny Braun's Surf Texas
Book cover for Kenny Braun’s Surf Texas

Published this year with a foreword by Texas-based writer Stephen Harrigan, Surf Texas is a cool and stark new photo essay that looks at what it’s like to be a surfer in Texas. Spoilers: it’s not super easy.

Sure, the state lays claim to a pretty sizeable stretch of the Gulf Coast, with its coastline spanning from Galveston to South Padre. And, yeah, its shores do sometimes serve up some beautiful surf, but that’s by no means a given. Finding a good wave is a slow, unsure business, and as a result, Texas’ surfers have to be patient, devoted, and a little used to disappointment.

Photo from Kenny braun's Surf Texas
Photo from Kenny braun’s Surf Texas
Photo From Kenny Braun's Surf Texas
Photo From Kenny Braun’s Surf Texas

That quiet, downbeat, vibe is all over Braun’s Surf Texas, with what Harrigan describes in the foreword as “something altogether different, a somewhat journalistic black and white chronicle that presents surfing not as high adventure but as dogged pursuit.”

Here, you get lonely landscapes and shots of hauntingly calm, glassy water that’s dark as ink at night. That’s not to say that Braun’s photos can’t also be beautiful, or that they don’t capture the bursts of energy that must come with catching the kind of great surf that’s more elusive in Texas.

Photo from Kenny Braun's Surf Texas
Photo from Kenny Braun’s Surf Texas

But, with Surf Texas, you do get the feeling of something harder, slower, and sometimes even a little sad — a totally different side to the pursuit of surfing, but one that’s definitely worth checking out.

To check out Kenny Braun, visit his website here, and for a copy of Surf Texas, get it online via the University of Texas Press here.

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