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8 Inspiring surf photographers to follow

By: Jessica Cho + Save to a List

We all can imagine a place or a setting where we feel most joyful, grounded, or at ease. For me, that place is always somewhere by the water. 

Floating on my back in the ocean is pure bliss. Paddling out on a board or open water swimming energizes me. Moving in and being surrounded by water makes me feel in tune with nature and connected to something bigger than just myself.

Growing up an East Coast girl, my experiences with bodies of water have primarily revolved around 1. The Hudson River, which I can see right outside my window. 2. The beaches on Martha’s Vineyard– an island off the coast of Cape Cod and 3. Various indoor pools I’ve swam in while competing at meets. Though not quite the Californian or tropical beach surf life I dream of, there are ways I enjoy satisfying my hunger for this type of aesthetic.

With a newfound appreciation for photography, I have found some incredibly talented surf and ocean photographers who capture the beauty and essence of the water in undeniably magical ways. Viewing their work has been a great way to appreciate the art of others and feel connected to the ocean in an indirect but impactful way. Check out some of my favorite sea savvy photographers below.

1. Russell Ord

Russell Ord is a world-renowned surf photographer from Western Australia. I love looking at Russell's big shots of empty waves and those with talented surfers. Each emits its own undeniably powerful energy that reminds me of how small we are compared to the sometimes harsh and unforgiving elements of nature. The way Russell is able to show the white water’s wrath is especially impressive.

2. Ben Thouard

Ben Thouard is originally from Toulon in the South of France. He has also shot in Hawaii and eventually moved to Tahiti. Ben captures water in some of the most unique ways I’ve seen yet. The angles, lines, curves, and ripples of the waves featured in his photos make you appreciate the beauty of the ocean on a whole new level. I’m especially fascinated by the spellbinding way he captures surfers from beneath the surface of the water. 

3. Jake Wundersitz

Jake Wundersitz is an Australian photographer who focuses on landscapes and architecture. I’m in love with the bright and saturated colors he captures in his many insane landscape photos. They really make you go "Woah, this is what Earth can look like?" It’s also fun to see how he experiments with perspective as he did with the aerial shot shown above.

4. Luki O'Keefe

Luki O’Keefe is from San Clemente, California and grew up in a family of fishermen, sailors, and surfers. There’s something so compelling about the way Luki captures people in action or smiling candidly. It radiates a sense of warmth and invitation. She captures and celebrates human joy and empowerment so well.

5. Esther

Esther is a photographer based on Oahu, Hawaii. The warm earthy tones, natural light, and film style she uses to tell stories of people and the ocean are mesmerizing. I love the way she captures movement in her photos, giving them life, almost as if watching a clip from a film.

6. Elizabeth Cecil

Elizabeth Cecil lives on the island of Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Cape Cod. The island holds a special place in my heart since my family and I have been enjoying it for years, usually during the summers. I was first drawn to the way Elizabeth captures the water– soft and dreamy– soothing for the soul. I love how she displays the beauty of the Vineyard, freezing scenes that make me yearn for East Coast summers.

7. Morgan Maassen

Morgan Maassen is a photographer from Santa Barbara, California, and has taken incredible shots all around the world! He has captured some serious waves that make you feel teeny tiny just by looking at them. I’m enthralled by the texture in his photos and how he can give us a mystifying glimpse of ocean waves from a totally new angle.

8. Maria Fernanda

Maria Fernanda was born and raised in Mexico City. She has some serious skills in photographing big waves. She started by taking photos around her hometown, but has since captured stunning pictures from Hawaii to Europe and Tahiti. It’s easy for me to get sucked in by the wide range of ocean blues she’s captured from different angles and with varied lighting.

Cover Photo: Morgan Maassen

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