The international surfing community lost a favorite son this past week, when world reknown surfing photographer Joe McGovern lost his life in a freak surfing accident at Paradise Beach, in Melbourne, Florida. Joe had come to Florida a few days early, while on assignment to photograph the annual Surf Expo in Orlando, for the Eastern Surfing Association and the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame.
Apparently, he wiped out on a good-sized wave, and hit his head on a sandbar. This caused him to lose consciousness and drown in the surf. Joe was a life-long resident of Narragansett, who started his career as a Scarborough Beach lifeguard. He worked for over 20 years as the senior photographer for the State of Rhode Island, taking thousands of photographs of politicians, social functions, and state galas.
In the surfing world, he was the gate keeper of New England surfing history, having carefully documented personalities, contests, events, and classic surf sessions for almost 40 years. His photographs have appeared in hundreds of publications and internet sites over the years, including the New York Times, Sport Illustrated, SUP Journal, Surfer and Surfing Magazines, and countless other surf and SUP magazines. Joe was the official surfing photographer for the Narragansett Times, as well as senior photographer for Eastern Surf Magazine.
Joe had just been nominated as a media selection for induction into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame-Class of 2016. Not only was Joe a great photographer and surfer, he was also one of the nicest and most sincere human beings that I have ever met. I loved him like a brother. He will be sorely missed by not only his immediate family, but by the entire worldwide surfing community.
We will be organizing a memorial paddle-out for Joe in the immediate future, and the surfing community will be notified to the time and place as soon as plans are firm.