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The Lure of Lighthouses & Dancing Waves – Photo Exhibit by Dan Merkel

January 26 - August 27

Home » Events » The Lure of Lighthouses & Dancing Waves – Photo Exhibit by Dan Merkel
Dan Merkel at SBMM

Continuing its celebration of coastal living, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (SBMM) is delighted to present The Lure of Lighthouses & Dancing Waves, an exhibit featuring more than 35 photographs of lighthouses and waves by the renowned and Emmy Award-winning surfing photographer and videographer Dan Merkel. The lighthouse photographs include images of lighthouses from near and far—from Cape Elizabeth and Cape Hatteras on the East Coast and Point Loma and Point Pinos on the West to Portugal and Australia.  The images are accompanied by Dan’s breath-taking photos capturing waves throughout the world. Beginning on Thursday, January 26, the exhibit will be on view in SBMM’s Gallery and Munger Theater through August 27, 2023.

Legendary water and surfing photographer and videographer Dan Merkel has recently returned to still photography, often shooting panoramic landscape images, mostly travel shots and often taken near the ocean. Speaking of his work and how this exhibit came to be, SBMM curator Emily Falke said, “I first met Dan Merkel when he joined Shaun Tomson for an event at SBMM and provided a few of his remarkable photos for sale.  I was particularly interested in seeing his U.S. lighthouse photos as SBMM is the home of the Pt. Conception Lighthouse lens with a comprehensive exhibit. I looked at panoramic images of Dan’s lighthouses and was mesmerized by how mood provoking the images are.  Dan waits for the exact moment to shoot the photo.  The lighting is spot on, and he is looking to evoke emotion of a ‘place’ in the world of lighthouses. He waits for just the right light,  formation of clouds during  predawn or sunset.”

Click here to see prints available for sale

About Dan Merkel
Photographs by Dan Merkel Dan Merkel began his career just taking pictures of his friends. When he was hired to work for various surfing magazines in the early 70s, surfing was just being recognized as a sport with international competitions and professional surfers, such as Shaun Tomson. Being an experienced surfer himself, Merkel was able to get in the middle of the action with his cameras, which gave his images more immediacy and energy. In order to do this, Merkel designed much of his own waterproof housing that protected his equipment and allowed him to follow focus. Beginning in the late 1970s and continuing through the 1990s, Merkel switched his focus to commercial cinematography and became an Emmy-winning filmmaker working on classic surfing films including Free Ride, Big Wednesday, Endless Summer II, and many others.

According to 1977 World Surfing Champion Shaun Tomson, whose recent book The Surfer and the Sage featured Dan’s images, “Dan Merkel is one of the surfing world’s most acclaimed and courageous action photographers. Combining a unique eye for composition in exceptionally dangerous situations, Dan captured some of the most intense moments of his subjects’ lives, artistically freezing and sharing each in the maelstrom of one thousandth of a second increments. Dan reveled in capturing beauty in the impact zone, the most violent area in the ocean. Whether he is doing still photography, music videos, commercials or commercial films, Merkel brings the same level of perfectionism and ambition that has propelled him throughout his long career.”

Merkel licenses his images through AFrame Media and markets his prints  online at  https://www.photoprintingpros.com/collections/dan-merkel-photography. Many of his images also appear on his Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/danmerkelmedia/about.

The Lure of Lighthouses and Dancing Waves exhibit is made possible thanks to the generous support of George H. and Olive J. Griffiths Charitable Foundation, The June G. Outhwaite Charitable Trust, Mimi Michaelis, Shaun and Carla Tomson, Thomas and Charmaine Rogers, and Wood-Claeyssens Foundation. Following this exhibition, The Lure of Lighthouses & Dancing Waves, will become part of SBMM’s permanent collection and available on loan to other museums.



Upcoming Events


Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
113 Harbor Way
Santa Barbara, CA 93109 United States
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805 962 8404
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January 26
August 27
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Martha Donelan
(805) 456 – 8744
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