Surf Photography – Tips on surf photography

//Surf Photography – Tips on surf photography

5 Tips To Surf Photography

Surf photography is an art for one of the best world-renowned sports out there. For firsts wherever there is a wave, there is surf. One of the great things about the ocean is that there are so many different aspects to it as it is constantly moving and changing. This makes surf photography a fantastically interesting and yet truly skillful hobby to get involved in.

For those of you that have gone outside of the actual surf realm itself and now want to get involved with the photography end here are some tips for you.

Respect the Ocean

This may seem silly and not be much of a tip for photography per say, but we have to start at the very basics. There are many different conditions to keep in mind while taking surf photography and keep in mind you may not have a board with you, just a set of fins and a wetsuit to keep you afloat.

Therefore it is extremely important to be conscious of rip currents, undertows, sharp reefs as well as the size of the surf while taking pictures of surfers. Don’t get too in over your head and although you may be able to surf barrels at double overhead with a 5’11” fish beneath your feet, that doesn’t mean it is a good idea to try and catch that surf image while hanging out in the water.

Take things slow, small waves can pose just as good a canvass opportunity as big ones.

Have the right water housing

Some photographers make the mistake of deciding to focus on surf photography yet at the same time take short cuts. They will purchase an extremely expensive camera with a wide-angle lens in order to get high quality pictures of surfers yet try and save some money on a cheaper water housing.

Keep in mind that the water housing is all that keeps your beautiful technology safe from the ocean. With a cheaper housing you may slowly find the equipment start to leak and next thing you know the $2,000 to $4,000 worth of equipment that you invested in is now worth nothing.


Example of same similar photo falling to take water droplet precautionary methods

Example of same similar photo falling to take water droplet precautionary methods


Reverse shot of camera using proper water housing

Reverse shot of camera using proper water housing


Get rid of water spots

One of the most frustrating things that can occur is coming in from a rough day of surf only to see that none of your surf photos will work. You spent hours fighting with the ocean and managed to position yourself in the water to get some perfect shots. However viewing the film you can see that water droplets had collected right in front of the lens view.
These dreaded water spots or droplets can be resolved before getting in the water. There are many products that can be purchased in order to place a light film over your water housing so that water droplets are not collected.

Two cheap options are to mix a little water with baby shampoo. The additional option is to simply use your own spit. Place this on the outside of the water housing where the droplets would form and you will be good to go.


Its not always about the waves themselves

Its not always about the waves themselves

Pictures of surfers and positioning yourself with the lineup

First things first, if you already know how to surf, or have spent a significant time in the ocean, this will help you immensely. It is very difficult to develop good surf photography and wave pictures if you yourself are not a surfer.

One of the most important aspects of surf photography is lining yourself up effectively in order to be in the right place at the right time to capture great pictures of surfers. Understanding the basics on how the ocean is moving and how the waves are breaking will help you immensely.

Also it is helpful to work with a paired partner/surfer. Having one specific person you are shooting will help you immensely. Communicate with each other to understand your goals for the day and what type of shots you are both trying to get. Shooting blindly at every surfer you find in the water often gives you nothing at the end of the day.

Be prepared to fail

As with anything you are very unlikely to get anything on your first try. When it comes to surf photography it will take a long time before you are getting dream shots you see on magazines.

Surf photography has to be a passion or hobby of yours more than just a means for you to make money to be successful. Keep getting sand in your teeth and with practice you could be the next Zak Noyle.

What lies beneath

What lies beneath

By |2017-01-20T13:31:29-08:00January 23rd, 2017|Categories: How-to Tips|0 Comments

About the Author:

Matthew Stone is a action photographer from San Francisco, California. He currently lives in Bucaramanga, Colombia where he develops action photography predominantly for climbing and motorcycle content. He also does dive and surf photography when living on the ocean and recently is taking photography to the sky with free-falling skydive imagery.