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Surf photography for dummies

Posted by RH on

So you're keen to take photos of your mates surfing, but don't have the right equipment? No worries, you don’t have to be a professional surf photographer to take great photos of your family or friends in the waves. 

There's no denying, expensive lenses and cameras definitely make it easier and take epic photos, but with today’s smart phone technology and the range of affordable cameras on the market, you can still get awesome shots without spending a fortune.

We sat down with The Surfboard Warehouse resident photographer Jarrason Bitton, to get a few tips on how to get the best surf shots when you don't own all the expensive equipment.

Here's what factors you need to consider.

Weather conditions

Don't take photos on dull, rainy or cloudy days. For clear and vibrant photos, it's better to have sunshine and blue skies, providing you with plenty of natural light and vibrant colours to make your photos look amazing.

Surf conditions

Good waves, good photos. Clean offshore days are the best, the surfer will get longer waves, giving you a better chance of capturing him/her performing a manoeuvre down the wave.


While you may not have the right setup to take photos from the water, you can still get epic photos from the land. When you arrive at the beach, walk up and down the sand to find the best spot to take photos. Scope out any groin walls, rocks or piers you can perch yourself on to get a better angle.

Keep in mind, without expensive cameras and lenses you don't want to be too far away from your subject, so shoreys, point breaks or close beach breaks are best.

Always consider the surroundings, not just the surfer. Look for contrast when you're taking photos. Check out what’s in your frame. The background, mountains, trees, and people on the beach will add more to your shot. 

Check out the surf report and tide times before you go so you know exactly what to expect when you arrive.


Lighting is so important. It separates a good photo, from a terrible one. Most photographers prefer early morning light, or late afternoon before sunset. Try not to shoot in the middle of the day when the natural light is harsh and far too bright.


Have a clear picture in your mind of what you want to photograph. Are you looking to capture manoeuvres, or more candid shots? Photographing friends or family members surfing is always easier, as you’re familiar with their style and know what moves they are capable of. You’ll know when they are about to hit the lip, or do a huge cutback, and it's easier to predict their next move and be ready with your camera.

Images by Jarrason Bitton.

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