Buxton's photographer laureate Daniel Pullen is a busy man. Apart from running a highly successful photography business with his wife Kate, Pullen is the go-to surf photographer for all things Hatteras. His photos have appeared in just about every major surfing publication and media outlet, and some of the most iconic images of the Outer Banks bear his signature: from the inside view of a perfect Hatteras barrel, to the blood moon over Hatteras light, to his celebrated "Sunset Surfer" photo, Daniel's photos have become Outer Banks classics. Whether you live here or just visit every year, you've probably seen his pictures in cafés, on the covers of phone books, on hotel walls, or in magazines. He's also been hard at work the last few years on a long-term project documenting the world of commercial fishing on Hatteras Island. Add to this the responsibilities of raising a family and numerous community involvements, and you wonder where he finds the time to eat lunch.
I've had the pleasure of working with Daniel on a number of jobs, and he and Kate have always made their home available to me on my occasional overnight jaunts to Buxton. Inevitably we stay up late talking shop and discussing personal projects, photographers we admire, and pictures we have yet to take. I've watched his fishing project evolve into a formidable body of images, and we've traded bits of wisdom and experience about life, work, inspiration, and technique. It's always a good time, and I only wish we could do it more often.
Living in Buxton all his life and being minutes away from the Lighthouse, Cape Point, Frisco Pier, and other photographically numinous locations, Daniel has learned the virtues of the old adage, "if it looks good, shoot it, and if it still looks good, shoot it again". He has spent over two decades working a strip of sand less than a few dozen miles long, and because of his familiarity with his environment, he's able to strike gold ten times more often than the rest of us blow-ins who come down to Hatty for a couple of days here and there, maybe an afternoon, hoping to score.
Daniel always seems to have a perfect picture in his mind, a Platonic ideal that keeps him going back to the same spots trying to nail the images he envisions. It is this search that yields so many of his best photographs. But, never satisfied, he keeps returning, keeps striving, keeps shooting, and keeps coming back with photos that make the rest of us green with envy. Keep searching for that perfect shot, amigo. If you ever do find it, I hope it's a long time from now.