Stu Gibson was the winner of the 2019 Nikon Surf Photo of the year and has decided to share his tips with us on how to achieve photographic greatness from within the barrel. The image above, titled “Mikey Brennan”, was the one that got him the win.
“I’m so happy to take out the Nikon Surf Photo of the Year Award! I enter this competition every year and I’m always blown away by everyone’s images. In the past few years, my photography has shifted to other areas away from surfing but I think this award has reignited the fire!”Said Stu Gibson on his win.
He shares with us five pieces of advice involving learning the ocean, planning ahead, having the right equipment, learning from the best, and working on your own style.
Here are Stu Gibson’s top tips to get your surf photography on point.
1# Learn about the ocean first
Before you jump into surf photography, spend as much time as you can getting familiar with the ocean. Swimming, surfing, shooting, or even just being at the beach from a young age will give you the most valuable skills to be a surf photographer. You can’t buy ocean knowledge and I’m so grateful I grew up at the beach with a surfing family.
2# Plan ahead
Knowing or scouting a location you plan to shoot will always be your best option. The more you plan, the easier it will be to focus on your gear and the job at hand. Do some research, use photo apps or Google Earth to check the light direction and sunrise/set times. If it’s a spot you shoot regularly write down or memorise the best conditions. All the elements contribute to a great surf photo so start bookmarking all your best weather links!
3# Invest in good equipment
You can buy ‘underwater housing units’ which are essentially camera cases that let you take your cameras in the surf. This will give you the freedom to leave the comfort of the land and get close to the real action – in the water.
4# Learn from the pros
Build a relationship with local surfers. The better your relationship, the more opportunities you will have to capture an epic shot. “It takes two to tango,” they say and your trust with the surfer will show in your photos.
5# Work on your style
Try and find your style or look of imagery that you’re happy with and be consistent with it. People will eventually recognise images like yours and that is your brand to own. Surfing is fun to shoot but also make sure you’re expanding your skills by shooting everything else out there!
You can check out Stu Gibson’s website to see more of his photography.