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Joel Parkinson Retrospective

For years photographer Steve Sherman has been on the frontlines of the Championship Tour (CT) capturing the most intimate, poignant moments. One of his favorite subjects, and good friends, is Joel Parkinson. After joining the Tour in 2002, at the conclusion of the 2018 Billabong Pipe Masters, Parko rode off into the sunset. Reflecting on his incredible career, Sherman dove into his archives to pull some of his favorite moments.

Celebrating the Joel Parkinson's 2012 world title with Mick Fanning. Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning, North Shore, 2012. WSL / Steve Sherman

After Parko won, everybody was at the Billabong house giving toasts. Somebody gave him that shirt. Parko doesn't take things too seriously. He has a good sense of humor. That was a fun night - a genuine celebration because everyone was so happy for him.

Joel Parkinson at home 2003 Joel Parkinson, Gold Coast, 2003. WSL / Steve Sherman

I was in Australia in 2003 and we were going to shoot some portraits, so I went over to his house above Kirra and had him put his suit on. I didn't know where we were going to go with it, but I knew I wanted to get him in a tie. So, he put it on and sat down. He was looking a little rock and roll, kind of like Angus Young. To think that he had another 15 more years on Tour ahead of him, it's incredible.

Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning after Parkinson won the 2009 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning, Bells Beach, 2009. WSL / Steve Sherman

With surf photography so many of the photos end up being tight, close-up but when you look at skate photography a lot of the best photographers pull back. So, that's something that I thought about here. Pulling back a little bit, shooting in black and white, and making it look a little more urban. It has more context and tells more of a story.

Joel Parkinson after winning the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Joel Parkinson, Bells Beach, 2009. WSL / Steve Sherman

I love that split-second connection where they're looking at you like a friend, not a photographer. That look on his face, it's that intimacy that you're trying to capture. This was right after he won Bells in 2009. They were coming up the stairs and I was able to shoot down on him getting chaired up. We made that connection and he's got the rock and roll fingers going. It's a special connection.

Joel Parkinson and Kelly Slater with unknown surf fan after a final at Burleigh Heads. Joel Parkinson, Kelly Slater, Burleigh Heads, 2003. WSL / Steve Sherman

Parko had just beat Kelly in a really tight heat at Burleigh Heads in 2003. This surf fan came up and wanted to take a photo with them, so I shot it. We did it but they both look very uncomfortable.

Joel Parkinson, Bruce Irons, Reef McIntosh, Beau Emerton celebrate Andy Irons world title in 2003. Joel Parkinson, Bruce Irons, Reef McIntosh, Beau Emerton, Steve Clark, North Shore, 2003. WSL / Steve Sherman

This is after Andy had won his second World Title at the Red Bull house at Off The Wall. This is the frontlines of decadence. Parko's in the middle with Reef McIntosh, Bruce Irons, Beau Emerton and the Billabong team guy at the time, Steve Clark. It's a pretty classic moment.

Celebrating and emotional victory at the 2015 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Joel and Monica Parkinson, Kirra, 2009. WSL / Steve Sherman

Parko and Monica totally in the moment. What I really love about this shot is she's got the Dior sunglasses on. It's like a scene you'd see at a pro golf tournament or something. She's all class. They're such a solid couple. They're still so in love. I'm such a fan of both of them.

At the ASP Banquet in 2012 with Joel Parkinson and Stephanie Gilmore. Joel Parkinson, Stephanie Gilmore, Gold Coast, 2013. WSL / Steve Sherman

This is at the banquet in 2013. It's just a really special moment where everything came together. They both look so good. Sometimes it just takes one shot to capture that split-second of magic. It all came together here.

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