Surf Photography: tips for shooting watersports like a seasoned professional

Surf Photography: tips for shooting watersports like a seasoned professional

In our latest Professional Photographer to the Rescue post our pro shows our apprentice how to photograph watersports to capture both dramatic action and stunning scenery.

Surf Photography: tips for shooting watersports like a seasoned professional

Meet our professional photographer

Roger Sharp is a professional surfing photographer and editor of Carve, the UK’s biggest and best-selling surfing magazine. Originally from Somerset, he’s been into surfing since he was 15 years old, and a pro photographer for the past 13 years. Roger is now based in London, and regularly travels around the world to photograph the big surf.

Meet our apprentice

Richard Owen is a magazine editor and keen amateur photographer and surfer. Born in North Wales, Richard did a photography foundation course in Wrexham back in the late ’80s, and he’s more recently rediscovered his love for photography after investing in a new DSLR. His love of surfing has inspired him to ask for our help to capture more dynamic surf photography with his camera.

Technique Assessment

After fitting Richard’s EOS 7D inside his spare underwater housing, Roger explained how to lock his exposure and focus so he didn’t have to worry about camera setting when swimming and shooting in the big waves…

Surf Photography Tips: manual exposure

Manual exposure
“Once I’ve taken a meter reading off my hand (as it’s the same tone as the surfer), I’ll lock my exposure in Manual mode,” says Roger, “In sunny conditions, I want a fast exposure to keep up with the action, as well as good depth of field for sharpness across the frame, so around 1/1600 sec at f/8. For this I got Richard to up his ISO to 400; on 7D cameras, this will result in minimal noise issues.”


Surf Photography Tips: manual focus

Manual focus
“Using an ultra-wide-angle lens means you’ll obtain lots of depth of field anyway, and even when shooting with a middle aperture of f/8, shots will be sharp from foreground waves to background waves behind the surfer,” says Roger. “To make sure, I got Richard to lock his focus just inside infinity to make sure his surf shots would be sharp, from the front to the back of the scene.”

PAGE 1: Meet our professional photographer and apprentice
PAGE 2: Surf photography tips for during the shoot
PAGE 3: Final surf photography advice from our professional photographer
PAGE 4: Our professional photographer’s recommended gear
PAGE 5: Shot of the Day


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