Gopro killed the surf photographer

July 16, 2013

This subject has been on my mind for a very long time. Before I start this post I want to make sure it’s clear that I am by no means a veteran surf photographer and my love for photography and in particular “surf photography” came to fruition from seeing all those fantastic shots that graced the covers of the surf mags that others had put before me.

I’ve been shooting body boarding, surfing, ocean art and wave photography for almost 5 years now. Most recently I’ve noticed the increase of “surf photographers” on the Gold Coast. Many people started surf photography to capture their mates surfing or even to escape the crowds of the infamous Gold Coast hustle. Now I’ve started to notice that surf photography on the Gold Coast is in fact saturated with “surf photographers”. My instagram feed is filled with people who are “photographers” and once you click on their feed or Facebook page you soon realise they’re just shooting with a gopro. No photographic skill involved, just point and shoot.  Now don’t get me wrong, the gopros seem like an incredible camera, especially for HD video. I have several gopro shooters I follow on instagram from the likes of Robbie Crawford and Dan Bennington who in my opinion are at the top of their game and the skill comes into being at the right spot at the right time, both of which have it locked down. The quality and style of these two are what other “gopro surf photographers” should be aiming for.

Unfortunately because of this craze it ruins things for the guys that are truly about taking a great picture and trying to make a living out of surf photography. Let me paint a picture for you, you head out to your local surf break or find a spot that is secluded from the crowds. Within minutes you have 5 guys with their gopros getting in your way, getting in your shot. Only to find out they also have an Instagram feed with mediocre images with another 5 go pro users in their pictures. It is honestly getting on my nerves. As with surf etiquette there is a “surf photographers” etiquette that is being overlooked.

 I personally like to do things like this:

  • When you enter the line up with you camera and see other photographers out there, say g’day to them, have a chat and also find out if there is a specific direction or person they’re shooting. If they do tell you what they’re doing, then make sure you say to them “ok not a problem I will make sure I’m not in your way when xyz is coming down the line or “make sure you shout out if I’m going to be in your shot and I will duck” this simple gesture will get you in their good books to start off with. I do this every time I see another surf photographer in the water.
  • If you’re shooting a spot that you are aware will be pumping the next day – don’t just put the photos up on Facebook and tell everyone where it is and when it was. Wait a day or two, wait a week in fact. This will make sure that spot x isn’t crowded and will give you a chance to head back there for more shots with less people the following day.
  • If you do manage to get a shot of something spectacular and you seem to think the other photographer also got the shot. Ask the photographer if they will be submitting any images to mags etc. If they say yes then I would recommend holding off on putting the images up online. This works both ways. And if you do introduce yourself to the photographer who is nearby then you should find out their FB page and pm them if it’s ok to put the shots up. I know you are thinking, “”I don’t give a fuck if they’re shooting whilst I am”. But without some decency the magazine we have loved since we first became infatuated with the surf culture and art, will soon be long gone.

Now I know not everyone will do things like this, but I’m hoping it give the new breed of surf photographers some direction.

Like I said at the beginning, gopros can take some incredible images and “surf photographers etiquette” should get you thinking about your approach in the next session. At a recent shot out at Froggies on the Gold Coast I counted 7 people shooting water with a gopro.

Now there is a whole other side to this phenomenon with photography and social media and how it’s destroying the photographic industry but I’ll leave that for a future post and these guys touched on the subject recently.

Remember you can follow me on Facebook, instagram and twitter. #jonwrightphoto and purchase my ocean art work on canvas and metallic prints HERE.



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