ProFile – Staff Photographer, Don Montgomery

Big Daddy high on his perch. Photo Eric Nelson

Don Montgomery was born in San Francisco in 1947 and moved to Pacifica with his family in 1958. Don was in the first Freshman Class at Terra Nova High School and was part of the first class to complete four years and graduate.

Don started surfing in 1960, and his first board was an O’Neill 9’2″. And didn’t stop until he was physically unable.

In the late 60′s Don  followed the surf movement to Hawaii. From the late 60s to the early 70s he called the islands his home.

Montgomery an avid photographer for about as long as he could hold a camera became a professional photographer back in early 1980’s, with his first published image in Surfer Magazine of Brian Zelles on a 15′ wave at Rockaway Beach in 1982. The editors caption on the photo read “Absolutely and without question, the most insane California big wave photo we’ve ever seen!” This was, of course, before Mavericks burst upon the scene.

Zach Wormhoudt on a Monster Drop - photo Montgomery

Another one of Don’s accomplishments is having the first photo of Mavericks published. It was in 1992 and was a two-page spread in Surfer Magazine of Jeff Clark titled “Cold Sweat”. This photo earned Don the prestigious Printers Excellence Award.

Over the years, Don’s work has appeared in publications world wide including Surfing, Surfer, Long Board & The Surfers Journal Magazines, just to name a few. Don was also the photo Editor for Surfer Girl Magazine.

Jay Moriarity, Don and Flea

His love for the oceans and waves, landscapes and seascapes has kept his lens focused on the outdoors entirely. Don still contributes images to the Magazines. He’s also the Senior Staff Photographer at

In April of 2005, Don was honored to receive an award from the Billabong Global Big Wave Awards for capturing the largest wave ridden in the 2004/2005-winter season. The wave was in the Paddle-In Category and was ridden by Shane Desmond from Santa Cruz in the 2005 Mavericks Surf Contest. Don has had images in contention for the past four seasons.

On a any given day Don will be perched along the beaches of Pacifica shooting the locals or the high cliffs of Mavericks making sure that every epic swell is documented.

Don and Miya!

One key role Don volunteers as is to act as the eye in the sky for the Mavericks Rescue Team and the Pillar Point Harbor Patrol. Don keeps a close watch on Surfers, Rescue Teams and supports vessels during some of Mavericks biggest swells. When trouble arises, using his two-way radio, Don guides the teams and coordinates rescue efforts to make sure everyone goes home safe.

Most important in his life right now is his wife of nearly 30 yrs, Toni and two sons, Chad & Clint, Chad’s new wife, Janelle and their faithful Yellow Labrador Retriever, Miya.

We look forward to seeing the world through Don’s eyes for many years to come.

Check out some amazing images from Don Montgomery

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