Updated: Sep 16
For landlocked dreamers, surf photography is a glimpse into epic maneuvers as surfers cut across emerald barrels surrounded by stunning landscapes. Meanwhile, for deep-dyed surfers, surf photography is a frame around fleeting moments that pool together adrenaline, athleticism and pure ecstasy. Wherever you fall in that spectrum, surf photographers have a special ability in bringing viewers directly into the unbelievable (and dangerous) world of surfing. These are the five best videos that pull you behind the lens of the world’s top surf photographers as they shoot some of the most famous breaks across the globe. Whether you’ve just been hooked on surfing or it’s been running through your veins for years — these videos will get you stoked for your next (or first!) time out.
Zak Noyle takes on the North Shore
Watch the North Shore come alive during the winter through the lens of Zak Noyle, one of Hawaii’s greatest surf photographers. When it comes to breaks like Pipeline, Noyle says, “It’s kind of like a football arena feeling. You know? This is our Super Bowl.” Just like a professional athlete, Noyle needs to be at the top of his game both mentally and physically. This video, produced by Red Bull and filmed by Ryan Moss (another great surf photographer!), uncovers the preparation and pressure to get the perfect shot. Noyle's inspiration comes from chopper rides along the coast. He takes this vision into the ocean and pushes for an ultimate shot.
North Shore, Hawaii
Red Bull Production
Ben Thouard's Window through a Wave
This video, published by SURFER, takes you behind the scenes of some of the rarest wave photos ever captured. While surfers are always on the hunt for pristine conditions, ocean photographer Ben Thouard takes this to a whole new level. Thouard spent a year chasing only perfect glassy waves around his home breaks in Tahiti. What’s his drive? Besides his love for the ocean, Thouard says, “photography was changing. It was not the same job anymore. I really wanted to bring new images and stand out from anybody else.” He discovered that he could capture a photo of the landscape while shooting underwater, as though the wave were a window through the ocean’s surface. The conditions that create these window-like moments are few and far between. But it’s all captured in this breathtaking new look at surf photography.
Leroy Bellet pulls you into the Action
This video zooms into the life and process of one of Australia’s youngest and best surf photographers, Leroy Bellet. His trademark photography is a point-of-view angle from within the barrel of hard-hitting waves. The stakes are high as each shot pushes him into dangerous conditions with some of the best equipment in the world. Most surf photographers stay outside of the wave, but “Leroy gets right behind the action in arguably a more a critical position than any of the surfers.” To get the shot, a wipe out is inevitable. The photos that Bellet is able to deliver teleport viewers directly into the seat of a surfer. Through this video, you can get inside the world of Bellet’s photography. In this episode of Red Bull's Chasing the Shot series, they take you behind Bellet's double-tow session using a Phantom, the “Everest of waves" in Tahiti, and finally Bellet's unforgettable milestone of getting on the cover of the renowned Surfing World Magazine.
Red Bull Production
Amber Mozo Faces Pipeline
As far as world famous waves go, there aren’t many that rank higher than Pipeline. The reef break that forms the impressive hollow barrels and thick curls of water are also what makes it incredibly dangerous, even for professional surfers. Each year these massive and powerful waves cause several tragic deaths. In 2005, Jon Mozo, a young and talented surf photographer, died in a freak accident while shooting at Pipeline. Thirteen years later his daughter, a photographer herself, faces Pipeline for the first time. Red Bull captures the moment when Amber Mozo, with the support of Zak Noyle, submerges herself in the sacred waters. When reflecting on that moment, Mozo said, “I think the first thing I noticed when I swam out to pipeline was ‘wow this is beautiful.’” Courageously facing Pipeline helps her connect to the same breathtaking and roaring waves that fuelled her father’s passion.
Pipeline, North Shore, Hawaii
Red Bull Production
Jereme Aubertin Shares his Process
Even before the existence of social media, surf photography has been an integral part of the experience. People have been snapping and sharing photos across local breaks and surf shops for decades. The only thing that’s changed is the technology that’s available. Canon's video highlights Jereme Aubertin, a professional surf photographer from New Zealand, as he walks you through a day of shooting and reveals some of his creative tips. He suggests there aren’t any “hard and fast rules” to follow. It’s a matter of coordinating the camera settings, tripods, and angles with environmental factors, such as the sun, lighting, reflection, distance, and speed. While shooting with the Canon EOS 90D, Aubertin explains the most important considerations when taking surfing photos. From artistic vibe shots on the beach at sunrise to sighting through a barrel in the ocean at sunset, you get to see Aubertin’s complete process. Let the creativity flow - get out there and explore surf photography for yourself!
Mt Maunganui, New Zealand
Canon New Zealand Production