Way Out of My Comfort Zone: Surf Photography on LA’s Manhattan Beach

The other week I decided to get out of my comfort zone. Surfers. I want to take photos of surfers in the water, I decided.

A lot of my ideas toggle between being great but also utterly stupid. Photographing surfers while they are out in the water – GREAT. Photographing surfers while I’m out in the water with them – STUPID if you’re not a good swimmer (me).

I reached out to fellow photographer Hannah Q who surfs and asked if she’d be my subject.

Photos taken with Canon 5DMKIII + Ikelite underwater housing.

Hannah and her hubby Sean.




The photos I got while out on the water were limited due to my swimming skills. The first time I tried paddling out, I didn’t make it. I’ve only tried surfing once before in waist high water. The waves kept pummeling and I ended up back at shore with a mouth full of salt water and sand in my buttcrack.

Hannah’s hubby came back to get me. I said, “I don’t think I’m strong enough to paddle out past the waves in this wind.” He said (he’s in the military btw), “Yes you can. Just make sure your board is perpendicular to the waves, and whatever you do, stay calm.”

Stay calm. Ain’t that the key to life…

“And what do I do if a huge wave comes that I can’t paddle over?,” I asked.

“Grab your camera, hold onto it tight, ditch your board, and dive under the wave.”


I like challenging myself and getting out of my comfort zone so I’m glad I did it. And hey, I didn’t drown!


Back on land – my happy place. Now I could focus and take strong portraits. 🙂


Hannah used to be in the military too. Rock woman.




I’d like to try surfing again. Maybe next time in less choppy waters, and without a big ass camera.








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