Chad doing his best to model for the cameras


The life of a professional wakeboarder is a seemingly glamorous one. World travel, endless summers, girls in bikinis (or bros in boardshorts), and of course, the free schwag. But in order to live that glamorous life, pro wakeboarders often have to do much more than just ride sideways on their board. One of the common “not wakeboarding” things wakeboarders have to do in order to be sponsored riders is model. For athletes who are used to just shredding in front of the camera, striking a pose can be a very foreign feeling. But when the brand needs photos and a photographer is screaming “Dance, monkey, DANCE!” the riders do their best to strut their stuff.

Recently the Spy Optic crew rolled into Orlando from Southern California with Melissa Marquardt to meet up with Shane Bonifay, Parks Bonifay, Danny Harf, and Chad Sharpe in order to do a mix of both modeling and action photos. Obviously, these are some of the best riders in the world, but they’ve been around the block when it comes to modeling, too, so some signature maneuvers were busted out both behind the boat and behind the shades. The main purpose of the shoot was to get photos and video for 2011 ad and marketing campaigns. The action portion of the shoots took place out in Clermont behind the boat and on some rails, while the lifestyle portions were everywhere from boat docks, to front porches, to golf courses, and even to the county fair. Photographer Chris Straley, who made his name in the surf industry, was hired by Spy Optic to shoot much of their action sports campaigns and came to Orlando for the wakeboarding shoot. His fresh take on wakeboarding brought out some different ideas that the riders had fun working with. No Zoolander style barking commands at the riders from Chris though, the atmosphere was chill and fun at all times (the downtime one day turned into a round of golf, which turned into some funny lifestyle shots).

Of course, the star of photoshoots like these aren’t always the athletes. The shades from Spy Optic took center stage most of the time. For a small shoot like this one with only a handful of athletes there were about 65 pairs of sunglasses on hand… You never know which pair in which color is going to look best on a certain rider, right? So if you’re looking for some new sunnies, keep your eyes open for the new offerings from Spy Optic at dealers near you, plus be sure to keep those eyes peeled to the pages of Alliance for some photos from the weekend.