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Jon Mozo's Legacy

mozo and daughter.jpg

It was standing room only as family, friends, community members, surfers and artists filled Surfer the Bar at Turtle Bay Resort on Feb. 9, the date that marked the 10-year anniversary of the passing of legendary surf photographer and BYU-Hawaii alumnus Jon Mozo. The Mozo family shared their experiences and introduced the upcoming documentary “Transcend,” a tribute to their father, husband, and friend. Jon’s legacy lives through his photos and his family, who share their continued love for photography and the ocean with everyone around them. All four of Jon’s children talked about their relationship with their father. They recounted the cherished memories that still flood them with emotions of love and support. They also talked about how they had to adjust to living without a dad. The difficulties that come from losing someone and the continued support and presence they feel from him still today.His daughter Amber Mozo said, “Even if you just met him once, you feel so close to him. He is so talented and known for his photography, but he really was just the best dad. That is what matters more than anything else in the world. Family is the most important thing in this world.”Niki Mozo, Jon’s wife, explained the significance of one of her favorite photos called “A Higher Source.” The photo shows the sun beaming through the underside of a wave about to break. Niki said it was not only an amazing and challenging shot, but it was also very symbolic. She said, “During the past 10 years there have been storms and rough times, but I know the light will always return. This photo is symbolic of that.” Jon paved the way for surf photographers on the North Shore and around the world. Aaron Nelson, a BYUH alumnus from Hawaii, said, “For me, he is a legend, especially as he was one of the first to go out and shoot empty waves. You can see how that has taken off for a lot of people like Clark Little and others.” Marc Gardner, a senior in social work from Australia, said, “Jon is extremely inspiring. Just from his photos and legacy he left behind, you can feel the love and passion he had for the ocean and photography.”Jon performed in a time when equipment was different than the kind photographers use today. Gardner said, “He obviously shot in film and that is the next level. Even though it is 10 or 15 years later, his photographs are still just timeless. A lot of people can thank Jon for their success and careers in the water these days. He was one of the legends and still is today.”Nelson added, “Jon to me was a true artist. He knew how to compose a shot and he put life into each shot and that is what set Jon apart.” The documentary “Transcend” stemmed from a S.I.F.E, now called Enactus, project started by Nelson. “I was actually involved with S.I.F.E. when I was in school and the documentary ‘Transcend’ was my project for the S.I.F.E. program. I got the project started, and contacted Devin Graham to get him on board and got some things organized,” said Nelson. Graham, a well-known videographer, explained Mozo’s method: “He would paddle out there and take 24 or 36 pictures. Every picture he took had to count. That alone fascinates me so much: he had to fight for each shot.” He also said, “I was approached about making the film, and when they told me about Jon and what he did as a surf photographer, I felt a connection and wanted to be a part of it.” Nelson said, “The reason I thought it was necessary to do a documentary was because of the legacy that Jon left behind. We are in a world where surf photography is just saturated and with technology being the way it is you can snap a thousand photos in a day and then go home and just pick through them. But that is what sets Jon apart, he went out with a certain number of shots and had to know which shots will look best and how to position himself in the water.”Graham continued, “Seeing how Jon’s legacy has carried over to his family is inspirational. His kids have taken on his legacy and made it their own. Now they are passing on their legacy to others and it just keeps going generation to generation.” Uploaded Feb. 19, 2015.
Writer: Trenton McCullough