Professor Cunningham: From the Emmys to Big-Wave Photography

September 2, 2015

SURFER -- Sachi Cunningham does it all. She’s a professor of Journalism at San Francisco State, a documentary filmmaker, and a critically-acclaimed multimedia journalist. She’s won a handful of Emmys for her work for “Frontline” along with a nomination for her most recent project, “The Rise of ISIS.” Her documentary for the Los Angeles Times, “Chasing the Swell,” won the Associated Press Sports Editors Multimedia Award, along with countless other acclamations. On top of all of her notoriety, she’s one of the best big-wave surf photographers around. “I’m often shooting empty waves by myself out there, so if I ever feel spooked, I’ll just get out for a bit,” she says. “I’ve been in situations where I’m gripping the sand on the bottom and still had a wave pick me up from the back and toss me up and into it. That always takes a lot of energy out of you, especially at a place like Ocean Beach where you’re swimming all the time. I don’t want to be afraid of the ocean; I love it too much.”