Surf Photography with Noah Garrett

Noah Garrett is a surf photographer based in Wailuku, Hawaii. He ventured into surf photography at a very early age and has since built an impressive portfolio of surfing images. He talks to PhotoConcierge about his journey as a surf photographer and shares some valuable insights.

1. How did you get into surf photography?

I grew up surfing in Laguna Beach. As a kid my friends and I always wanted photos of us surfing or skating. My dad had a Nikon D90 and so I started to just take photos of my friends and then once I got into high school, I started to love it even more and ditched surfing and just start shooting. After a while I had people in my community that were photographers that were helping me and I just became more in love with it and devoted all my time.

2. What gear do you use for surf photography?

When I am on land the gear I use is a Canon 5d Mark iii with a Canon 600mm. When I go in the water I will use a CMT water housing with my canon 5d Mark iii and either a Canon 8-15 fisheye/wide angle or a 70-200 telephoto lens.

3. Your surfing images are action-packed. What goes into taking shots like these? How do you prepare for a surf shoot?

When you are in the water you have to be right in the spot which is usually the impact zone. If you aren’t in the right spot you can get really hurt. So its fun but also scary at the same time when it is a super big wave. I make sure I have all my gear like my helmet, fins and leash for everything. However, I think the main thing is preparing yourself mentally because mother nature is a lot bigger and stronger than you and you can never underestimate her.

4. What settings do you use to click surfing images? Are you in the water or on a surf board while shooting?

It really all varies on the time and day and what your shooting if that makes sense? I mean yes their are certain settings I like for instance when I am in the water I like Shutter Priority because its easy for me to control in my housing and I like the control you have with it.  And I always swim. I like to be in the action and sometimes it is hard on a surfboard.

5. In your professional opinion, what makes a perfect surfing photograph?

I think the main thing is just getting the lighting and composition right of what you want, but photography is an art which means you can’t always follow the rules. You have to find what you like which might not be like everyone else but that’s okay.

6. What are some of the biggest challenges that come with surf photography?

For me its waking up early. I like sleeping in my warm bed, but the biggest challenges would be keeping up with swells and tides but also getting good light because that can make a shot okay or amazing.

7. What do you think about the Indian surfing scene? Have you considered coming to India and trying out the beaches here?

I have looked into it a little and I think its pretty sick. It would be pretty cool to go over there. Maybe in the future I will make my way over there.

8. What advice would you give someone who is venturing into surf photography?

Just go out with what you have got and learn with that. Once you get better you can get better equipment. But the main thing is just have fun and practice and learn.

Participate in “The Big Surf” Photo Contest to win a GoPro Hero 4 Session. For more information on the contest, visit:

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