Surf Photography: tips for shooting watersports like a seasoned professional

Surf Photography: tips for shooting watersports like a seasoned professional

Surf photography tips for during the shoot

Surf photography tips for during the shoot: prep your underwater housing

How to prep your underwater housing
“For the first time, try out your housing without your camera in to check it’s set up right and totally waterproof! Then fit your DSLR inside and give it a rinse in shallow water and fully submerge to check if there are any leaks – check seals and screws are all secure if not.

Surf photography tips for during the shoot: prep your underwater housing

Surf photography tips for during the shoot: prep your underwater housing

With dome ports, lick (yes, lick!) the outer lens window – this stops seawater clinging to the outside and ensures it’s drip-free, to stop the splashes ruining your shots. Then you’re ready to swim out into the waves and get shooting!”

 

Surf photography tips for during the shoot: get as close as possible

Get as close as possible
“It was fun (and quite challenging!), being bashed about by the waves while keeping hold of my camera in the underwater housing. Once I got settled into a rhythm, I was able to follow the surfers and the swell.

“For this shot I was mere metres away from surf pro Alan Stokes, and I love the intimacy and froth of the waves – it really pulls you in and makes you feel close to the action.”

 

Surf photography tips for during the shoot: go wide and get creative

Go wide and get creative
“For this shot from the waves, Roger suggested I get more creative and go wider to try and include some of the mainland to add context and create a sense of the location near the cliffs. I love the scale, with the surfer smaller in the frame, and the big expanse of blue sky with white clouds. The surfer’s body shape and the line of the waves leading into the rocks also really makes this shot work.”

 

Surf photography tips for during the shoot: keep the subject large in the frame

Make your subject large in the frame
“This surfer was carving a nice turn, so I was happy to get a shot with a good dynamic body position in the bag. But he appeared too small in the frame as I was quite far away.

Surf photography tips for during the shoot: keep the subject large in the frame

“Thanks to the EOS 7D’s 18-megapixel sensor, cropping the image in half still leaves me with a very usable photo that’s big enough for A4-size or equivalent prints. As I cropped I repositioned the rider using the rule-of-thirds overlay grid to position him surfing into the space.”

Pick one surfer to follow
“The sea can be a busy place, with many surfers jostling for position on the best waves, or swimming out while others are riding the waves,” warns Richard. “When shooting, try and pick out good individual riders and avoid other surfers in your shots as they’ll distract from your main surfer subject and spoil your shot!”

Don’t change lenses on the beach!
“Roger reminded me that camera kit doesn’t like sand or seawater,” says Richard, “so he simply said to avoid changing lenses on the beach. It’s an obvious thing to point out perhaps, but Roger emphasised the importance of taking good care of your kit – and how a little sand or seawater inside a lens, or worse, inside your DSLR body, could cause major problems.”

 

Surf photography tips for during the shoot: experiment with different formats

Shoot in different formats
“I was shooting most of my shots in horizontal (landscape) orientation, so I tried a few shots in vertical (portrait) format and scored this gem! I like the rider’s trailing hand, and the out-of-focus seawater in the foreground and background really draws the eye towards the surfer. I also left space in my composition for the surfer to ride into.”

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

READ MORE

Water Photography: make stunning pictures of water in any environment
How to see photos like famous photographers every time you shoot
Shoot sharper sports photography: pro techniques and the settings they use
5 great tricks to advance your sports photography skills