Surf photographer Jon Foster raves about his waves


As a kid, Jon Foster dreamed of having his photos published in magazines as a way to share his experiences. By the time he graduated from high school, he’d attended 14 schools and been to 20 countries.

Foster was born in Northern California but ended up in La Jolla during his high school years, where he was immediately hooked on the surfing lifestyle. At 15, he took a photography class and found it was one of the only classes he didn’t ditch, even when the surf was up. The surf culture became his subject matter. After high school, Foster worked construction and slowly garnered a reputation as a free-lance photographer for surfing publications. In 1975, he took an intense semester-long photography class at the California Institute of Arts.

In 1989, he joined the staff of the recently launched TransWorld SNOWboarding magazine as an assistant to the photo editor. Six years later, Foster was named director of photography. In 1998, he was named editor in chief to oversee the magazine’s creative departments. Eventually, Foster co-founded The Snowboard Journal.

As a photo editor, Foster became a staunch supporter of the more visually driven publications. A combination of striking photography and memorable writing has, and always will be, Foster’s ultimate goal.

What brought you to La Jolla?

My family moved here in 1966, when my dad got a job at UCSD. I started surfing, and that was it. I feel like the place picked me.

What makes this town special to you?

The coastline, the beaches, the surf and the eclectic group of artistic people you can find around here.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add or subtract or improve in the area?

I could name off the usual, like the traffic, too many people, etc. But as long as I can stand at Windansea beach and look at the ocean and the coastline that has basically remained unchanged by human hands, I’ll just let it be for now.

Who or what inspires you?

Music, art, film, love. People who show grace under pressure.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Jim Morrison; Hunter S. Thompson; Helmut Newton; Natalie Portman; the Dalai Lama; Mark Procopio; my sister Kathleen, who died in 1984; and Olivia Wilde.

Tell us about what you are currently reading?

“Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits.” It’s an incredible story about the amazing life of a great pioneering photographer. And “I Am Ozzy.” It definitely was a little surreal meeting Ozzy Osbourne in Warwick’s in La Jolla.

What is your most-prized possession?

It seems the longer I’m around, and the more experiences I’ve had, the less “possessions” are important at all. But I guess I could say my photos are important to me.

What do you do for fun?

Photography, travel, surfing, snowboarding and going out to dinner.

Please describe your greatest accomplishment.

Not giving up through sometimes seemingly impossible odds to do what I love for a living: photography. Working for some great publications, then starting my own magazine in 2003. I’d like to think that my greatest accomplishment hasn’t happened yet.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

If you wake up in the morning alive, then get up and do something. Don’t quit until you see the credits roll.