Great photographers are made of their capacity for seeing images in moments, and throughout his life, Jason Kenworthy has been a seer. His ability to filter out the periphery and distill an experience to what is raw and genuine is a reflection of his own personality – authentic, sincere, void of bullshit. And so he has earned recognition as the most talented young photographer presently working in surfing, earning praise and respect from a gallery of tough critics.
Born in Dana Point, Jason moved to Rhode Island before he’d graduated from the shorebreak, leaving the cultural epicenter of skating and surfing for the relative drudgery of the Ocean State, an ironic twist, when you consider the almost perennial wind and cold of the northeast. Nevertheless, Kenworthy cut his surfing teeth in the waves of Jamestown, and once he’d had his fill of cold water and bad waves, he relocated back to Dana Point where he completed high school and began experimenting with film and photography, documenting a pack of boys at the neighborhood skate park. At first a passing fancy, it became apparent that Kenworthy had a natural talent – an inherent ability to see a moment and capture it.
Drawing on the experience of mentors Art Brewer and George Salas, Kenworthy essentially taught himself how to shoot surf photos, improving with each roll, and gleaning secrets of the craft from Brewer.
Establishing a relationship with SURFER magazine in 2000, he had been promoted to Senior Staff Photographer by 2001, earning his first cover shot the same year. Since then, Kenworthy has had five cover shots and become one of the most important elements of SURFER’s success, spending nine months of the year on the road photographing professional surfers and their lives. In 2003, Kenworthy had the pleasure of seeing one of his photographs prominently displayed in Times Square, a thrill that he had never anticipated.