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New Jersey’s nickname is The Garden State but, unfortunately, we’re now more well known for the likes of Tony Soprano, Pauly Walnuts and Christa-fuh along with a gnarly, northeast industrial corridor where drivers go up each others asses bumper-to-bumper doing 80 mph on the Garden State Parkway headed towards the bridges and tunnels leading into The Big Apple and, last but not least, those joik-off juicer meatballs of MTV fame ( we won’t even say the shows name here ). And it’s really a shame because we were was not given the monicker “Garden State” for no good reason. It’s the place where they grow the best tomatoes and sweet corn and a variety of other produce with beautiful orchards bearing  just about every kind of fruit and where the worlds biggest cranberry bogs and production facilities are. And we could go on about the horse, cattle and chicken farms as well as it’s fishing and shellfish industries but you get the idea by now. It’s a state blessed with rich soil, mountains and vineyards and is a true cornucopia over flowing with earthly delights. Another thing Jersey has grown in abundance over the past two decades is an amazing crop of surf photographers who have really shed light light unto the surfing world about 1) how good the waves are here as in world class and 2) how many great surfers of all variety’s exist here and 3) what a beautiful state it truly is ( with a few caveats of course and our share of environmental issue we are dealing with ). Meet Bobby Siliato, one of the true talents who has grown and blossomed into one of the states best Shooters and we’re stoked to finally bring you his work. Our surf photographer Garden grows ever more. – Mez –

Age:  45

Where do you live : Near historic Asbury Park, NJ

Website :

Instagram : @RobertSiliato

Bobby Siliato in frame – a portrait of the artist as a surfer captured styling out at home on the Jersey Shore. Photo: Adam Tormollan

Where do you shoot the most : Jersey Shore

Favorite place to shoot :  Anywhere along the coastline

What’s in your kit bag :  Nikon D500, Nikon 35mm 1.8, Nikon 24-70 2.8, Nikon 70-200 2.8, and my long lens is a Nikon 400mm 2.8. SPL housing for water.

Serenity and Destruction. This was my 2nd photo that was published by ESM. This was taken after a Nor’Easter hit just a few weeks after Super Storm Sandy.

When did you start photography ?  I have always been interested in photography since a young age. I always loved National Geographic and various skateboarding\surfing magazines for the photos. I never really read the articles within them. I took a film camera while backpacking through Europe back in September of 2000 but it wasn’t until 2006 that I finally got a DSLR and really invested all my creative time into it.

NY’s Balaram Stack setting up under a nice slab.

Why Surf Photography ? While checking the waves from a hurricane swell, my friend Russ Meseroll was shooting and he was gracious enough to share some of his expertise since I had my camera with me. Afterward, I shared my photos online and a lot of friends and family were surprised NJ had the size of the waves that were coming in that day. I received a lot of great feedback. So I decided to document the local surf scene and haven’t stopped since…

Rick Hendrickson just happened to be at the right place at the right time when I grabbed this shot of him on a 4th of July weekend.

 First published photo ?  There was an old surfing news site called SurfBang that was the first to pay me to use one of my shots on their website. They used my photo of Jimmy Leone during the Hurricane Earl swell back in 2010.

Jimmy Leone. This was my first photo ever published.

Favorite local Surfer to shoot ? That’s a hard one. Jersey has a lot of talent in the water right now.

Wave check. Shot with a Canon AE-1 on Kodak Tri-X 400 BW film.


Biggest photo buyout print or digital and tell us a little bit about the image :  Beauty on the High Seas. This image was one of four that was used in a marketing campaign. I was able to work out a deal to license it for a limited mixed use, multi year license for a significant amount. That was the moment I finally felt like a legitimate photographer and not just a local surf photographer.

“Beauty on the High Seas” This was one of the images used in a local marketing campaign.

How do you feel about the rise of digital, social media and the decline of print surf magazines ? I hate it. There’s nothing like picking up a physical copy of a magazine and fully immersing yourself in it, let alone seeing your work featured in it. Time seems to stop and you find yourself there where the photo was taken. Looking at photos on a screen or phone just seems lifeless.  What I thought was a compelling photo online at the time of me viewing it just fades away into obscurity and is forgotten.

Paul Francisco in the middle of pulling off a massive 360.

What do you photograph besides surfing :  I love to shoot sunrises, sunsets, landscapes, wildlife, concerts, and even street photography. For me it’s a creative outlet. I just love to go out and shoot and have fun with it all.

Besides shooting the surf, I absolutely love shooting concerts. It is very fast paced and challenging. Here I captured Gary Holt from SLAYER on their final world tour.

If you could pick one place to travel and shoot all expenses paid where would it be and why? That’s a hard one and there are too many places on my list… I would say Australia. I’ve always wanted to go there since I was a kid. Australians are great wonderful people and the surf always looks amazing. I’d love to shoot\surf at Noosa Heads for sure!

Winter surfing has its perks despite the freezing water.

Favorite time to shoot ?  Dawn. It’s very peaceful and quiet. The light is soft and the sunrises can be very dramatic and colorful.

There perks of waking up early and having the sunrise go off right before your eyes. In frame: Greg Tongring.

 Places you have traveled to and photographed ? Most places I go on vacation I just leave the surf gear at home and decompress. I’d love to shoot Teahupoo though.

Shooting in the middle of a winter storm isn’t ideal but neither is surfing. You take what you can get.

Surf photog you most admire and have found inspirational to your work ? That’s very hard. I gravitated to the works of Ron Stoner, LeRoy Grannis, Ron Church, and Jeff Devine.

Nor’Easter storms bring long anticipated waves during the cold winter months.

Non surf image you are most stoked on and why ? Most recently it is a photo of a Mother Fox and her pup. I shot this not far from my house. I was far enough away not to harass or scare them. It just shows the softness and caring side between the two while the cub has fresh blood on its face from a rabbit the mother had just brought back to the den. I won a recent photography contest for it with an awesome grand prize, lots of gear, and it will be published in a book.

Mother Fox and cub on a sand dune in Ocean Grove, NJ. I recently won the grand prize in Shutterbug Magazine online and won a ton of amazing gear. I was so stoked! ( check out the story and all the sick gear Bobby won here ).

ABOVE: Bobby’s Shutterbug Magazine winner that won out against some super tough competition. Click the link here to see how rad some of the runner-up’s were that he beat out – Ed. –

Water or land photos ? Personally, land. Water is fun but it’s a lot of work. I’d rather surf than shoot in the water when the waves are good.

My favorite time in the morning is when the waves are backlit and they glow emerald green.

 Any final thoughts or observations on photography today, good , bad or ugly?  I think photography in recent years has really become supercharged with social media, smart phones, affordable cameras, and ease of digital editing. Having Youtube as a massive source of free learning tutorials definitely helps too. As an art form it’s great to see it being very much alive. As a business though it’s really hard these days. New photog’s tend to give their work away for free for name recognition and exposure. Who can compete with free?

Rob Kelly assessing the situation.

New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame inductee Vincent Troniec sliding into frame.

March pastels. View from way down the beach with Tyler Thompson getting shacked.

Into the Void. The fog rolled in pretty thick that morning. There was a wave out there but we just couldn’t see it.

Sometimes shooting several beaches down you can catch a different point of view.

I don’t always shoot from the water but when I do I make sure I’m having fun with friends. In frame: Trey Cooper cross stepping the plank.

While checking the surf right before dusk, I saw this girl waiting for her boyfriend who was still in the water surfing. Her body language said it all. She was getting angrier after each wave passed. I didn’t wait to see the outcome.

I try to tell a story of my photos and incorporate people when I can. Here a group gathers to check the waves from a higher vantage point.

Lining up. Here I had to get to a local hotel rooftop with my long lens to show the action from a different angle.

View from the outside. Watching the sunset explode right before my eyes while waiting for the next set is one of my favorite things to experience.