Extreme photographer Mikala Jones — famed for shooting incredible images and videos from the inside of huge, curling waves — has died in a surfing accident at the age of 44.
According to Surfline, Jones, who relocated from Hawaii to Indonesia years ago, had gone out into the ocean on Sunday morning during a trip with his family to the Mentawai Islands in Sumatra, Indonesia.
Jones’ surfboard fin severed his femoral artery from a 10-centimeter wound inside his left groin. The femoral artery is a large blood vessel in the thigh that delivers blood to the lower limbs.
Surf photographer Woody Woodworth, who says Jones took the best overall surf photo he had ever seen, tells AP that cuts from surfboard fins are common.
He said some surfers like to keep their fins sharp because they believe doing so will help them ride waves more precisely — but a fin can be like an axe or a cleaver when combined with a wave’s power.
Jones is survived by his wife Emma Brereton and daughters Isabella and Violet. His daughter Isabella confirmed the news of his death on Instagram on Sunday and shared a touching tribute of photographs with her father.
A Pioneer in Point-of-View Surf Photography
Jones was considered a pioneer in creating point-of-view surf photography and videos. Unlike other photographers who would take pictures from the beach or of other individuals in the water, Jones shot images and footage of gigantic waves curling around him while he crouched on his board.
In some shots, a sunset or sunrise is visible through the curved wave opening in front of him.
Born in Kailua, Hawaii, Jones started surfing at about seven or eight years old and went on to become a pro surfer.
AP reports that Jones began to experiment with taking first-person images of himself on the water in the 1990s. Jones attached a camera to fabric fastener on his board and then held the camera under his chin while paddling out to waves lying on his stomach. He would grab the camera upon standing and hold it behind himself to take pictures.
Having initially achieved these shots by attaching a camera to his board, Jones began to use a GoPro after the lightweight cameras were invented.
He was later sponsored by the company and used software to stitch together images from multiple GoPro cameras for 360-degree views.
Hands Down, The Best Overall Surf Photo
Surf photographer Woodworth singled out one of Jones’ shots in particular for praise, calling it “beyond spectacular.”
The photograph, which was featured on the cover of The Surfer’s Journal, shows Jones in a wave tube with his left arm outstretched.
The wall of the wave looks like a glass mirror, and it reflects both the sunlight shining into the barrel and Jones himself.
“It’s 10 points on the surfing and 10 points on the photography technically and 10 points on the concept,” Woodworth tells AP. “This is like, hands down, the Olympic-winner-of-all-time photograph.”
Image credits: Featured photo via YouTube/GoPro.