I've had the pleasure to shoot pro bodyboarders pretty much all the time. I can count on them to pull into every single barrel whether is over shallow sharp reef or concrete hard sand. They're a little concerned about hitting the water housing with their mugs than I am getting hit by them. Once, they have the trust that I will not let that happen, we score.
Surfers and longboarders, they're more worried about running me over. Or it could be that most have never shot with a water photographer before. Either way, my goal is to get close and not get run over. I did get run over by Sean Fowler in Baja Malibu during a session in 2-4 feet. It was all my fault. I mis-read his line. He pulled in at the last minute as I was expecting him to annihilate the lip with a turn. In fact, anyone that tells me that they're afraid of running me over, I make it clear, "If you run over me, it's my fault." I have to encourage some to actually try to run me over so I can get the shot I'm after. Again, once that trust is solidified, game on.
SUP surfers... new challenge, new fun. John Ashley listened when I said get closer during one of our sessions. He has been the only one to hit my lens port on my waterhousing. Luckily, it was only a scuff and it was off center. Lesson learned... I have to be a chameleon and keep one eye on the board and one on the paddle.
Enter Sean Poynter. If you've kept up with my blog posts, we've scored a cover shot on Standup Journal magazine. I was stoked and so was he. I remember that session clearly. Big gaping barrels closing out on the low tide sand. Epic. Whenever he's in town, I always hit him up to shoot. Why? New challenge, new fun. Sure it helps that he fears nada and will trust that I will get close for the shot and not cause a collision. One main thing he does that I appreciate, actually its a couple things: 1. Because he's on an SUP board, he's able to spot the set waves sooner than I can so he'll give me a yelp or holler to let me know they're own their way; and 2. We communicate even when he's on the wave. I will do my best to predict was he's going to do and he knows this. But if decides to switch it up, he'll throw me an audible and tell me what he's going to do. In most cases, it's going to be a round house around me instead of smashing the lip right in front of me. To me, that's pro status.
When I was doing the pro bodyboarding thing back in the 90's, photographers appreciated that when I went out to shoot water with them... I shot water with them. I know that sounds funny but here's my reasons why I was great to shoot with: I didn't paddle to another peak. I didn't go left when the photographer was waiting on the right. I didn't pass the photographer because I wanted to line up a move way down the line. I communicated. I gave them a heads up on set waves. And I new for those few hours, it was all about getting the shot. That what it means to be professional.
Don't get me wrong, if you see me in the water just do your thing. You don't have to be a pro. I'll do my best to get to you and make you look like a pro. If you and I set out to get photos, let's work together. Let's be pro status.
|Sean Poynter off the top. I pulled this one out of the 'B' rated folder.|