World-renowned surfing photographer Jeff Flindt is regularly featured in many of the biggest surf magazines and works with some of the biggest surf companies around. He’s considered one of the best surf photographers out there, so it’s pretty amazing to get some tips from him and see his process. Watch this behind the scenes look of Flindt during a surf photo shoot:
A lot of the time Flindt will wake up in the morning, see what kind of day it is and he’ll know what lens and camera he’s going to use. He plans his shoot for the day—if he’s going to use water housing, shoot from a boat or from land—and he sets a goal. Maybe he wants to get one or two really good water shots, maybe he tries for a spread or a cover shot; it doesn’t always happen but that’s what he aims for.
Typically, Flindt shoots with a Canon 5D Mark III, with these lenses:
- Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 AT-X 107 AF DX Fisheye
- Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM
- Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM
- Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
- Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
Working with the Surfers
On this particular photo shoot, Flindt is in the water where he times the wave to get inside the tube with the surfers. He swims out with one of them and sits in the impact zone where the waves are breaking, while the surfer sits outside and waits for the swell to break. Flindt has to time it all perfectly so he’s in the tube at the same time as the surfer.
Sometimes, the surfers try to work with Flindt as he shoots, slowing down or speeding up to match up with him. Other times, it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time and a great shot just happens naturally.
Flindt likes to go through the photos with the surfers after the shoot to see what they like and what gets them excited. He also tries to document the surfers’ lifestyles, spending time with them out of the water—camera always at the ready—to capture candid moments.
It’s these little moments that set Flindt apart from the average surf photographer. He’s great at telling the whole story, showing his viewers the real life of a surfer, and capturing the feeling.
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