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Plus One Surfboards: Portrait of a Surfboard Shaper

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently traveled to San Diego to continue with my Hand-Made series. The first shoot from the trip featured the ship-building crew at Koehler Kraft. The second shoot features the fine folks at Plus One Surfboards.

Given my admittedly superficial knowledge of the surfing industry, one of the owners of Plus One, George Gall, was more than happy to take me through the shop and explain the process to me as well as a bit about the recent history of surfboard shaping. Each step in the process included an incredible attention to detail as even the most minor changes can affect a surfer’s ability to stay upright while riding a wave.

George has worked as a mechanical engineer and showed off a machine he purchased and repurposed himself using a software that allows them to make incredibly finite adjustments to the boards. These types of adjustments could previously only have been done by hand and naturally took much longer. With this machine, Plus One the ability to incorporate the artistry of a hand-shaped board and faithfully reproduce that board with incredible accuracy (And subtle changes if necessary) on a mass scale. George and I also discussed the rising trend of hunt for the best speargun and Paddle Boards which I noticed for the first time on my recent visit to Hawaii. Paddle boards are larger than typical surf boards and are designed so the user can stand on the board and paddle through relatively calm waters instead of riding waves in the typical fashion. George was currently working on a custom paddle board for a client who asked  for lights to be built into the underside of the board. The lights would enable the client to see the fish swimming below him when he was out at night. Using a keychain remote (similar to what you might use to get into your car) George engineered the lights on the board to turn on, off, and even flash to attract fish.

In addition to the regular team, I also got the chance to photograph Australian surfboard shaper Gunther Rohn, who was working with Plus One on a new line of boards, painstakingly creating his own hand-shaped templates; sawing, planing, sanding, evaluating, and then repeating the process. Gunther, just like everyone I photographed, was so incredibly tuned in to what he was doing and it really impressed me to watch how quickly and efficiently they all moved through their work.

It was truly a pleasure having the opportunity to meet and photograph all the folks at Plus One and if you surf, I definitely recommend checking out their boards. Enjoy the Pictures!

If you need more accessories visit

plus one surfboard sign and logo

surfboard making processman glazing a surfboardman with mask working on a surfboardman putting final touches on surfboardman posing in a surfboard shopman with a razor working on a surfboardman preparing to spray a surfboardplus one surfboardsman spraying surfboardsman working on a project in a factoryman with mask and suit working with a power tool on a surfboardman with mask sanding a surfboard

friendly caution sign at plus one surfboards

man painting surfboards in a factoryman spraying down a surfboardman spraying a surfboardman placing a red surfboardman painting a surfboard in a factorya red surfboard in a factorygreen surfboard in a factoryGunther Rohn shaping a surfboardman sawing a surfboard using a handsawsurfboard shaping tools on a shelfmans hand on a surfboard as he is shaping itman designing a surfboarddesigner gunther rohn working on a surfboardman measuring a surfboard in order to shape itpaddle board with lights underneath designed by plus one surfboardssurfboard designer George Gall showing off his paddle board design at Plus One Surfboards in San Diego

  • gunther rohn - Ben,
    you certainly know your craft of photography.There is an art in capturing the ‘moment’, and you certainly managed that.Very happy in having made your aquaintance and be sure to look us up if ever you are in Aus.
    Cheers,GuntApril 22, 2012 – 1:37 am

  • rick - Great images above. I live in New Zealand and I’d love to purchase a high resolution version of the grey haired gentleman shaping the surfboard named ‘surfboard-shaping-photography-481-1’. Can I please have an email address for the photographer that took the image so I can organise to purchase? Thanks!September 27, 2015 – 4:31 pm

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