Tim Nunn’s Best Photographs | My Life in Pictures

The renowned surf and environmental photographer talks us through the best five pictures he's ever taken

Words & photography by Tim Nunn

I’m from Norfolk on the east coast of England, which is not known for surf really, but I still managed to get in there and that sparked the obsession.

I’ve always owned a camera, but originally I started filming, and I contributed to about 20 surf-related films. Then my best mate Sharpy became editor of Surf Europe and I shared an office with The Surfer’s Path, and lived with the editor Alex [Dick-Read].

“We were totally out of contact with the rest of the world, and lived with bears, wolves and mountain lions all around us to surf this wave.”

Between them they persuaded me to ditch moving pictures and start shooting surfing, especially around the British Isles. That set me on the path of being a photographer.

I mostly shoot surfing, the more adventurous and cold side of it and loads of environmental stuff for The Plastic Project as well.

I’m inspired by wild places. That’s a bit cliche I know but it’s being out in really wild environments on the coast, in the mountains, in changeable weather, which really inspires me more than anything.

The shot below is one I’d wanted to try and get for years. It’s one of those rare shots where you really plan ahead in surfing, and this evening the light, the waves and the backdrop all came together. Micah Lester was totally alone in the lineup as well which really helped.

It was shot on a Canon 1DX and a Canon 50mm f1.8 lens, so a combo of the most expensive body and the cheapest lens Canon did at the time.

Micah Lester gets air in the Arctic Circle. Shot on a Canon 1DX and a Canon 50mm f1.8 lens
A makeshift hotel in an Icelandic tunnel. Shot with a Nikon D300 and 10.5mm f2.8 fisheye.

This shot above shoes the spirit of real adventure. You see so many trips with pros who pose for the Instagram moment, then go surf, and then go back to their hotel room basically. This is a real moment in Iceland, we had no money except for fuel and a car, and we just used to camp or sleep rough.

“This is in Iceland, we had no money except for fuel and a car, and we just used to camp or sleep rough.”

This day we had lost our tent in a gale, it was 1-5 degrees and snowing outside, and we found this pull off 4 kilometres inside a mountain and just bedded down. The surfers are Timmy Turner and Ian Battrick.

Ian Battrick in Scotland. Shot with a Nikon D300 a Nikon 10.5mm fisheye all in a SPL water housing.

This shot above with Ian Battrick is a pretty classic fisheye from UK waters. It’s special because we both had horrific hangovers from the night before in Thurso’s legendary nightclub Skinandi’s. And it was actually onshore, but we just went in anyway, and it turned on and we nailed this shot and it ended up being on five [magazine] covers.

Nelson Cloarec in Scotland. Shot with a Canon 1dx and a Canon 50mm f1.8 in an Aquatech waterhousing.

This shot above of Nelson Cloarec was the culmination of several years shooting this reef in Scotland. It’s an incredible wave, but requires just the right swell direction, size and an unusual wind to make it all come together. It did randomly this day after ten days of no real waves, and it was sunny.

For the shot below, myself, Ian Battrick and Californians Timmy Turner and Eric Ramsey went to British Columbia, and with the help of our friends the Bruhwiler brothers got dropped off in the wilderness for six weeks. We were totally out of contact with the rest of the world, and lived with bears, wolves and mountain lions all around to surf this wave. It was an incredible experience, and this one shot really sums up what an awesome place it is.

Surfing the wilderness in British Columbia. Shot on a Nikon D300 and Nikon 85mm f1.8 lens in a SPL Waterhousing

Ted Grambeau is my number one photographic hero. He was way ahead of his time when I started shooting, also love Jon Frank’s work as well and the US photographer Brian Nevins. Then locally Sharpy, Ben Selway and Greg Martin.

I’ve recently discovered some of Leroy Bellets’ work, shot behind surfers while surfing himself. It’s epic. I think if I could shoot one photo it would be that.

For now I’m totally focused on The Plastic Project, which combines surfing with raising awareness of marine pollution. I talk about the project in schools and beyond.

To follow my recent work, and film as well, head over to or check out theplasticproject on instagram

To read the rest of Mpora’s April Planet Issue head here

You may also like:

Legends Behind The Lens | The Timo Jarvinen Interview

Learning by Doing | Photographer Vernon Deck is Living the Dream. Here’s How He Got There…


Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.