Have you ever wanted to take breathtaking surf photos, the kind that truly captures the talent in the sport, the beauty of the water and the unmerciful nature of waves? Well, Nikon award-winning Australian surf photographer, Ren McGann, has got the best tips and tricks for you. The former dive and fishing boat skipper, who is now a professional photographer, has captured an incredible portfolio of striking swells and life on the water. With a passion for surf and landscape photography, Ren’s work showcases the true beauty of Australia’s best breaks.
As the winner of the last year’s Nikon Surf Photo and Video of the Year Awards, he is renowned for his amazing ability to capture incredible images of powerful, fast-moving waves. These awards are recognised in Australia as the countries most celebrated surf photography competition. Here are Ren’s best tips and tricks for all photographers out there who want to take amazing surf photos.
Ren’s top 5 tips for capturing surf photos
1. Learn to forecast:
Learning how to read both swell charts and weather maps removes the guesswork with surf photos and photography. Simply put, I would almost not be able to do what I do without these tools. I’m so grateful for the nine years I spent as a commercial vessel master and the opportunity to deep dive into this topic.
2. Buy good glass:
Cameras are always being updated, and it seems that every six months there are new cameras that are a million times better than the last. However, lenses don’t change much. Spend the money and buy the best you can afford. With quality lenses, your images’ sharpness and clarity will increase, along with your in-focus shots’ keep rate.
3. Hope isn’t a strategy:
The spray and pray technique can work, but only if you first plan to put yourself into a situation where something epic could happen. Behind every shot I’ve been proud to have captured, there has been a ton of planning.
4. Be self-critical, in a healthy way:
Having a mentor or someone to teach you isn’t always an option. Looking at your work objectively can be a huge help. If someone sent you your images and asked for feedback, what advice would you give them? Be honest! Always be open to receiving feedback. Try sending a few images to someone you respect and admire, to ask them what they think.
5. Mix it up:
When I get to a point where I feel stuck or lacking passion, I shoot something completely different that will test me in every way possible from shooting to editing. It usually involves a composite edit of a surrealism scene with people. I promise that you will learn something new from stepping outside your comfort zone.
Ren McGann’s best tips and tricks are sure to help you capture surf photos like never before. His excellent experience and sheer talent in shooting the surf is absolutely something for all aspiring photographers and videographers to look up to.