Spreading the Stoke...

When I created this blog I really wanted to to be centered around the things that inspire me and the drive behind the way I live my life. Cole Hardwick, one of my very best friends in Tallahassee, is giving me one of the greatest gifts anyone could ever give. Cole Hardwick is teaching me how to surf, and I am infinitely grateful to him for this because I don't think there's a better way to truly connect to the ocean. I asked him to be a guest blogger, and he happily complied! The way he talks about the ocean and surfing is infectious and I'm so excited to share his blog post with you guys! 

I first connected with Cole when I was looking to join the surf team at Florida State, he ended up adopting me and taking me under his wing. The shots above are from our very first surf trip, followed by some of Cole's personal adventures both surfing and shaping. This guy is oozing with talent and love! 

I decided to include some of Cole's artwork in this post, can't even describe how much this guy inspires me. He does what he wants, and he does it so well! I hope you can all be inspired by him, just like I am constantly! 

          "Having had grown up in St. Augustine and living the greater part of my life in a home less than 2 miles from the beach, surfing was kind of just a natural step to take. I was given my first board for my ninth birthday, this little thruster with a colorful airbrush pattern made by a well-liked local shaper. None of my family had ever surfed, but they were always really supportive of anything I wanted to do, so they drove me to the beach almost every day after school. Teaching yourself to learn something is always really difficult, but I had this friend who was my same age and lived right next door to me who was trying to learn too, so we kind of always had this competitive drive with each other that probably helped push us both into becoming better surfers. I think what also helped me was that at the time the ASP World Champ was this local guy, CJ Hobgood, and I happened to be able meet him at one of the surf shops around town one day, and after that I pretty much idolized the guy and wanted to surf more to be like him. 
          My views of surfing didn’t really change from seeing it as more than just a sport or a fun past time though until about my Junior or Senior year of high school. At that time I ended up getting this re-make of a classic “retro-styled” fish that just completely changed everything I saw surfing as. As first that board was completely impossible for me to ride, but after I got used to it and with one or two really clean swells I started to see and feel surfing differently. I realized it could be more than just throwing together whatever tricks you could memorize from the magazines or films, and that you could actually bring style and expression into the mix as well. I think at that point surfing began to almost turn into this form of a release for me, emotionally and spiritually. I became a lot more relaxed and started to realize just how amazing everything was around me. 
          There isn’t really a whole lot of things out there that guys can do and make to look beautiful, but when you bring surfing into this style-based rhythm, it almost ends up carrying that same visually appealing aesthetic as like a form of dancing almost. You read and understand the ocean better, and the waves become this blank stretch of canvas ready for you to draw lines and colors that are completely 100% unique to you. You will never ride the same wave twice, and no one will ever ride a wave the same way as you, so there’s just that endless opportunity of expressing yourself. Every new wave is a new clean stretch of canvas, it’s pretty amazing. For me, this form of art has been easiest to see and express with a longboard, where you can just walk the board and locks trims and noseride, all really style based maneuvers. In longboarding you can just really single out all the different styles people bring into surfing through how fast or small those steps are, or what yoga-esque maneuvers they can hold on the nose of the board. I always just see so much beauty and rhythm in longboard surfing. With a nice noserider you’re really able to just put everything out there in the open and just be you.

           I don’t really put much thought towards what kind of future I’d like for myself or how surfing will play into it all, I kind of just put everything I am and everything I want to be into today. Which, I guess if you keep living like that, eventually today will be that future you were thinking about, and you’ll be everything you wanted to be because you’ve been living every day to be like that. Maybe it’s a bit cliché or just a twist on the “live everyday like it’s your last” motif, but every day I get another day to live and to love I always realize that I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, and every day is always better than the last, so it works for me at least. I guess the ideal form of living or “the dream” for me though is probably just living somewhere in the world, really anywhere in the world, close to a coast where some waves break with a wife (and eventually kids) who will surf with me. All the details and means of achieving living that life don’t really matter that much to me, as long as I’ve got my family and friends and the ocean close by. 
           I find the best piece of advice from Chris McCandless quote he left by his deathbed stating that “Happiness is only real if shared.” I feel like that applies well to life and to surfing. The best days of surfing are usually always based around who you were with rather than how good the waves are. Some people spend their whole life trying to find the “perfect” wave and traveling to different desolate corners of the world, tracking the “perfect” swells, having the “perfect” boards, and all that jazz. But I feel like every wave can be the perfect wave if you just surround yourself with the people you love. Those kinds of thoughts and feelings come with the experiences though. After having been traveling for about 12 or 13 years now ranging from surf trips to Costa Rica with college friends, mission trips to Africa with my mother, or road tripping from one coast to the other across the U.S. by myself I’ve started to learn that the experiences that really stuck with me were the relationships I’ve started or strengthened during those travels. So for me now it’s really all about spreading happiness and positive vibes, and sharing the adventures. Watching your buddies get barreled out of their mind, splitting a peak on some a-frame with a stranger, or pushing a kid into their first wave, surfing to me is all about the shared experiences and spreading the stoke."

Connect with Cole Hardwick on his Tumblr! 

Tori Ray
Keep Spreading the Stoke! <3

If you are interested in collaborations with Tori Ray Photography, contact Tori at toriray0613@yahoo.com


January: Monthly InstaDiary

January 1st 2013 had to be the most perfect start to any new year EVER. I was at Passion Conference 2013 with 65,000 worshiping Christ and making a stand against slavery. God moved in the Georgia Dome, I cannot wait to return next year! Big thanks to everyone who helped make this happen! 
When I was at Passion 2013 my Grandpa passed away. When I got the phonecall I was with one of my best friends Jessica Whittington, and I can honestly say she is the only person I would have wanted to be with upon receiving that information. Jessica I love you so much. Thank you for always being there for me. I'm so proud of my Grandpa and the man that he was. He is one of my biggest inspirations, and I hope I grow up to be as compassionate of a person as he was. 
Me and My beautiful Jessica at Passion <3
Self portraits, because sometimes I want to be the model too <3
I won the Arizona Christmas Photo contest and won all this jazzy merch! Now I'm finally the Arizona poster child I was born to be ;) THANK YOU ARIZONA!
Reminiscing on summer during winter... the usual. Mermaid shoot with Ashley Johnson!
Had so much fun photographing Maddie Hall, and working with Makeup Artist, Megan Hill!
Edits on Edits on Edits!
3,500 objects self portrait for my digital foundations class at Florida State. 
Celebrating Australia Day in America!
My favorite Insta-sister Paris Gerrard had a birthdayyy!!! Follow her (@Charcoalalley) and visit her blog! http://www.charcoalalley.com
Flash back of a shoot my little blonde muse Blake Huber! 
I missed my friends from a lot this month, and some of my favorite memories with them are made in their cars.. This #TBT was my way of commemorating that. <3
Thuggin' in my AZ gear. 
Endless inspiration in January from one of my favorite artists at the moment. http://ponygold.blogspot.com
Sneak Peek into my gypsy bedroom, So excited to continue building my dream catcher wall! 
Side note: You, yes.. you, need a fur blanket. They are heavenly.
Inspiration from [@Elleque] on Instagram! 
Finally completed my logo which you can see at the top of my blog, but this was on of my doodles from when I was brainstorming my logo design! 

January was absolutely perfect this year!

Be sure to follow me on instagram to keep up with me on the daily! Its the best way to look at who's inspiring me, and to get sneak peeks on photoshoots and contests. I post more on there than I do on any social networking site, so follow me and INTERACT! I love meeting and talking to the people who follow my work! 

Gram: @Torirayphotography

Tori Ray


Itching for the Sea...

Woke up this morning Drowning in thoughts of the Sea... searching for photographs is the only itch relief! 

Tori Ray
Keep Swimming lil Mermaids <3