Giving a view from the shoulder, under the lip or behind the wave, water shots give the surfer’s view from the water – and as a result carry an extra intensity that anyone, surfers and non-surfers alike can appreciate. Not only are they impressive by nature, but despite the often temperamental nature of water housings (the thing they put their camera in so it doesn’t drown), it’s actually cheaper to start producing professional quality water action images than land ones.
1. Get the right equipment: housing, camera, lens. There are only really a few lenses that guys who know what they’re doing are using. One cheaper option is to jump in and get a fi lm set up to start out. Then, for a digital set-up you’re looking at around 3000 euros, that’s working with one lens.
2. You need to learn what to do on your lens port, whether you lick or rub it to get rid of water drops. It’s pretty much a secret for most guys what they do, no one‘s gonna tell you, but you will need to figure it out because this is how you get sharp water shots. You can shoot wet or shoot dry, but you need to fi gure which one out for yourself.
3. Bruce Lee once said, “Put water in a cup, it becomes a cup, it can fl ow or it can crash, be water…” People trip out when it’s a heavy shore dump and you jump right in, but if you can be one with water, you get out and get back using the rips. Don’t do too much, fi nd the right gap and jump in.
4. Work on your positioning – not getting in the way of the surfer but being in the best spot, by practice. Don’t get too excited when you get one shot, think about it again, how could you be better positioned, to improve your technique. You need to know the exposures already, all the tech bits and pieces, because when it’s time to go, it all moves pretty fast. You need your basics, then your positioning. There’s no time to fart about in the impact zone.
5. If you already see someone swimming, don’t just rock up and try to shoot in front of them, respect other crew. In places like Hawaii guys you see in the water aren’t there for fun, they’re trying to pay bills.
6. Try to grow some balls. Guys that are not afraid of getting pounded are the ones who’re going to learn faster. It’s physical, you need to have taken on your fluids. A lot of the top water guys are former bodyboarders, an ideal breeding ground coz they’re used to being pounded in thick shorebreaks. That’s the one thing that sets guys apart, anyone can shoot from a boogie board, but the best guys are the ones deep at Pipe, Aichner and the like. It’s not just about fish-eye, but you need to master it if you want to be complete, and it’s the hardest thing.