How to Forge a Career Path in Surf Photography


When the waves are your calling.

Image via Simon Upton

Sun, sea and travel – is there anything better? While we might try and indulge in any combination of these three things in our free time or on break from our full-time gigs, there are some lucky folk who get to combine these three concepts for their full-time hustle.

For Melbourne-based Caitlin Myers, most of her work is at the intersection of surf, travel and fashion.

“[It] doesn’t stray too far from the beach. Nine times out of 10, I’ll be shooting with sand between my toes!”

French photographer Serena Lutton is much the same when it comes to snapping her passions.

“I have a real passion for women and the beach,” she explains. “It can look really cliché, but there are many elevated ways to represent a girl at the beach and this is what I’m looking for: not just a girl, not just a surfer, not just a model. But a feeling, a moment.”

For both women, photography wasn’t any particular career path in the beginning.

“I started playing around with my mum’s camera probably when I was about 16, but never saw it as a career path,” Caitlin explains.

“I got into photography when I was around 14, with a cheap digital camera,” Serena, who is also a graphic designer, echoes. “I started to do fashion photo shoots with my friends and action sports images with my twin brother. I was too afraid to do backflips on the BMX with him, so taking pictures was my only way to continue to share time with him.”

A conscious decision to focus on photography came for a little later for Caitlin. After having to quit her job at a wine bar in order to juggle her photography work, Caitlin eventually left uni completely to focus on her passion.

“I finished uni and leapt straight into working for myself which was quite daunting but exciting at the same time. I moved to Bali the year after I finished and picked up heaps of jobs shooting fashion over there. The dream was always to make money shooting surfing, which is also virtually impossible, so when I shot my first Roxy trip in that year, it was a dream come true.”

Now, along with Serena, Caitlin shoots regularly with femme-focused surf brand Roxy, the culmination of which is the Roxy Pro event. This year’s March event was her third time shooting with the crew. As much as the two photographers have hit their stride working with major brands like Roxy, focusing on a niche part of the photography industry has its challenges.

“The biggest challenge is to stay true to who you are when you have a commercial shoot,” Serena suggests, although she’s learnt how to balance the two in recent years. “I’ve learned so much these past few years. I learn how to compromise even when I want to follow my own idea.”

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For Caitlin, it’s finding your feet in the early days.

“I would say the initial part of getting your name out there is the hardest. I rode that initial wave of when Instagram was first growing, and that allowed me to connect with brands and people from all over the world. Now, it’s actually more the ins and outs of owning and organising your own business, which I’m learning a lot from. And with freelancing, there’s always that worry about when your next job will be.”

But that’s really half the fun, isn’t it?

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