Like a lot of Homer entrepreneurs, Scott Dickerson has not one, but several business ventures. A recent sale, though, combines three of his passions: photography, surfing and helping to run an adventure charter boat, the Milo. Last month, Alaskan Brewing Co. released its new Icy Bay India Pale Ale with a label using Dickerson’s photo of his brother Fred surfing near Yakutat on an expedition with the Milo. Another photo Dickerson took of Ty Gates surfing in Homer appears on Icy Bay IPA packaging for six-packs and half-racks.
Dickerson, 31, sold the photos after Alaskan Brewing stumbled across his work in a web search.
“It’s just the magic of the Internet,” said Andy Kline, a spokesperson for the Juneau brewing company.
Kline said Alaskan Brewing had a beer label with a painting of a surfer, but wanted something more realistic.
“We just found there were people in our Outside territories who didn’t think that was real. Surfing in Alaska, right. We wanted to portray how real it was,” Kline said.
Looking for new images for the Icy Bay IPA, they typed in “Icy Bay” and “surfing” and came across Dickerson’s photo on his website.
“And we just came across Scott’s photograph. It’s amazing and very cool,” Kline said. “The more we looked into (Dickerson’s) lifestyle, we thought, ‘This guy’s awesome.’”
Since 2001, Dickerson has been photographing professionally, selling images to Alaska Magazine, Outside, the New York Times and National Geographic. Part of Homer’s diehard, rugged surfing community that chases waves whenever big sets roll in — even if it’s mid-winter — in 2008 he started selling surfing equipment such as wetsuits and stand-up paddle surfboards. With a 100-ton captain’s license, Dickerson also helps run the Milo with owner Mike McCune of Ocean Swell Ventures. The Milo is a former seining boat that’s tough, seaworthy and can handle rough seas.
“We say we offer the authentic Alaska experience,” Dickerson said.
It was on a trip on the Milo from Sitka to Homer in late 2010 that Dickerson took the photo of his brother. Fred Dickerson had been shooting video all day, which frustrated him.
“It was heartache for him,” Dickerson said. “He couldn’t handle it. He went surfing.”
Scott Dickerson took the photo of Fred surfing the face of a wave near Yakutat with Mount Saint Elias in the background. Alaskan Brewing cropped the photo so that the mountain is in the background and the surfer dominates the image.
“You can imagine Fred is pretty happy with himself for being on a beer label,” Dickerson said.
The Icy Bay IPA is an update of Alaskan Brewing Co.’s India Pale Ale line, first released in 2007.
“As inspiration for the new flavor profile, the Brew Crew looked to the intense experience of Alaskans who travel the state’s coastlines in search of epic surf,” the company said in a press release.
Along with using his photography, Alaskan Brewing also has contracted with Dickerson to help market the Icy Bay IPA using images of Alaska on social media. One of Alaskan Brewing’s slogans is “Live Life Alaskan.” Instead of using athletes to promote its beers, Alaskan Brewing features real-life adventurers like Dickerson and Juneau photographer Chris Miller.
“They’re very cool people. They reflect the ethic we have about the environment,” Kline said. “They just couldn’t be a better spokesman. And they like our beer.”
“We decided to try it out and see how it goes,” Dickerson said.
So when you’re a photographer and the campaign is about you, how does that work out?
“It’s photos of my friends that I do stuff with,” Dickerson said. “They pay me and give me a beer budget. It’s pretty fun. That’s a quick way to make friends when you tell them you can bring all the beer.”
Dickerson’s wife, Stephanie, helps run his web site and other aspects of the Dickerson business empire when she’s not being a new mom to their son, Riley, now six months old. Along with his photography and surfing ventures, Dickerson also is aerial director of photography for Daniel Zatz of Zatzworks. Dickerson operates a Cineflex brand camera system, a complicated, gyro-stabilized device used to shoot things like aerial photography from helicopters.
“It’s an amazing camera system that’s difficult to operate,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson has combined art and adventure to cobble together a living that can support his family.
“To me they’re very much all lifestyle businesses,” he said of his endeavors. “We have an extravagant life on a very small budget.”
Michael Armstrong can be reached at email@example.com.