Merkel, Dan

Gruff and disciplined surfing cameraman from Southern California, best known for the high-impact still photography he shot for Surfing magazine in the '70s, and as the primary water photographer for 1977's era-defining surf film Free Ride. "They were intent on reinventing the sport," Nick Carroll later wrote of the Free Ride surfers. "Dan was as competitive as they were—and just as good at what he did."

Merkel was born in Belgium (1946), the son of an army serviceman. He grew up in North Dak...