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Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Updated: March 18, 12:01 AM ET
Gallery -- Lucia Griggi portfolio


"Pipeline on an evening swim -- by far one of the most beautiful moments I have experienced from the water. It was glassing off and the colors were perfect. Pipeline is truly an experience, whether you're surfing, shooting or just watching," she says.

Despite the "Blue Crush effect" (that may be waning at the moment) surfing is dominated by X chromosomes. If surf photographers had their own clubhouse, there wouldn't even be a ladies room. And of the lensfolk who paddle into the ocean to shoot, you will rarely ever see a female treading a pair of Churchills at a heavy break.

And then there's Lucia Griggi, an Italian born, English-educated woman who doesn't much care about the gender-based status quo and comes back from epic adventures around the globe with solid photos to show for it -- some from the world's most unforgiving venues.

"Seeing Pipeline break big for the first time was a silent moment. I did not want to look through my camera and shoot, but just sit in silence and feel the wave break on the shore. I knew I had to go swim!" she recalls.

"The first time I swam Pipe was small day, several years ago, a better day of the Pipeline Masters. I had explored the reef when it was flat, so I knew how much room I had beneath me: not enough. After this I was ready for size. Well, probably not -- but who cared?" she says.

"I carried on swimming Pipe when Third Reef was feathering on larger textbook days in late January. I was scared of the swim out and getting deep enough under the wave as it broke. I was shooting an 85mm so had to sit further in rather than in the channel. Sometimes I was swept back as there is only a margin of room between the wave above and the reef below, and sometimes I would have to hold onto the reef to swim through. The sounds were like bombs exploding."

But Third Reef isn't even the biggest worry. As a female traveling the world alone with thousands of dollars of gear, she's been a target of attacks by dirtbags from London to South Africa. At J-Bay, she had to hide under the bed, terrified, while a thief cleaned her livelihood out of the apartment. There have been jellyfish, inexperienced surfers landing on her melon and camping in a Sri Lankan rice field with elephants, cobras, crocs and as she puts it "shagging mongooses."

Lucia Griggi, independent woman with a lot of lens (and a lot of something else.)

In addition to working with all sorts of clients in action sports, her work has appeared in Foam, Surfergirl, Carve, Mens Health, Cooler, and Maxim. The girl has it dialed.