Nothing fascinates me more than the movement of water. From subtle ebbs and flows to powerful swells, it has the ability to completely capture my attention, leaving me in a state of wonder over something I have seen time and time again.


Surfer stands in hooded wetsuit next to surfboard. Behind runs an old fence with a dusting of snow.


- Behind the Brand -

Located in the heart of the Great Lakes, Offshore Origins explores the complexity of water from behind a lens. Driven by finding the hidden, we aim to form new perspectives for the observer and translate those into unique, thought provoking prints. Pausing states of the surface that you don't observe in real time. Revealing hidden scenes behind the detail and chaos. Displaying wetsuit clad surfers in an environment not often associated with the sport.
The name emanates from two concepts. The first speaks to the origins of the subject matter. We enjoy waves in the final moments of their journey, far from their creation. The energy we observe has traveled hundreds, potentially thousands of miles before dissipating onshore. It's truly remarkable. Even on the lakes, although on a smaller scale, this holds true. The second speaks to the origins of our personal journey and the continued drive behind what we do. From a personal perspective,  it was the first observations of sizable surf breaking during a strong offshore wind that truly hooked me. These conditions are rare on the lakes, which makes the pursuit of them much more of an adventure than activity.
The logo is based on a wave from the lakes. Given the vantage point at this location, you are able to view it in perfect profile. Although fickle, it can reveal a clear view through the barrel while a perfect half circle of spray forms over the back of the wave. There seemed no better representation of the brand than this.

 - Behind the Lens -

My name is Sean McLain. Growing up along the Great Lakes, I've always had a passion for water. And looking back, I've realized that I have always been documenting activities, whether it was a disposable camera at a bonfire or wiring an early digital camera to my helmet riding single tracks, long before gopros were a thing. Considering these two facts, it should come as no surprise to myself that I have landed here, creating Offshore Origins.

It wasn't until I began surfing on the Central Coast of California, after graduating college, that I began to observe water in a different way, noting the subtleties, appreciating its energy. It was there I captured my first "surf shot", an empty lineup with a perfect peak accentuated by offshore spray. I think that was my "Damn, this is cool" moment. Since moving back to my home state of Michigan, I have become engulfed in the blossoming and magical surf culture of the Great Lakes. In recent years, I have been driven beyond observing the moments to capturing them.  It is from here, the lakes, that most of my work now originates.

I've never really considered myself a photographer and oddly enough I still don't. I don't overly concern myself with its' technical side. Although I love documenting the lakes, I find it hard to appreciate the moments while doing so. It is for this reason I try not to get caught up trying to score the perfect shot or worry if my settings are dialed in exactly. I shoot loose, and if I miss a moment, there will be another. I find this to be the only way not to detract from the adventure and experience of surfing that I love so much. Beyond that, many of my favorite photos are born from mistakes. In fact, my entire first collection was based on a mistake that I refined into one of my favorite styles.

What I appreciate the most is the dynamic scene that water presents. Each wave is unique and you never really know what you are going to capture. 

It's hard to say what this experiment will look like down the road. Nearing the final steps of this endeavor, I saw a quote, "If you know what you're going to do in advance, you won't do it." and it resonated with me. I have countless ideas bouncing around in my head and am excited to see which ones materialize. I hope you are excited too and stick around to find out.

Moving forward, I just hope I can manage the internal struggle of when to grab the camera and when to grab the board.


Offshore Origins is based in Traverse City, MI surrounded by the beauty of Lake Michigan.
 Our prints are produced by ColorInc in Grand Rapids, MI.

Thank you for visiting Offshore Origins