One on one with surf photographer Russell Ord

One on one with surf photographer Russell Ord

Surf's up

Text: Yeong Sassall

Image: Russell Ord

Producing the kind of breathtaking imagery that Russell Ord does is no walk in the park. Here, he shares the secret to his insane day job.

You have a lot of major fans, like British stylist, Alastair McKinnon, who follows you on Instagram, who are some of your other clients?

I've had prints purchased by Ames Ingham, an interior designer in the UK, for one of her clients... I would love to be able to name drop more, but it's impossible to track all our buyers! I do have private buyers from the USA, Brazil, Italy, Germany and the UK, though.

One on one with surf photographer Russell Ord (фото 1)

Which publications has your work been seen in?

I freelance for many surf publications internationally, such as Tracks, Surfer, Carve and The Surfer's Journal. Online publications have become a serious and popular medium, and supplying images to the Red Bull and ESPN sites are definite highlights.

How do you capture your shots?

My whole life seems to revolve around attempting one great photo a year. There are 'moment' photos and then ones that require a certain skill level. I put a lot of emphasis on the skill level ones, by pushing the boundaries of capturing tough angles in crazy waves. Preparation and disciplined training are crucial to my work and I've spent many years working up to this level. However, in the end it can be broken down simply: a camera in a waterproof housing (thanks, Aquatech) a pair of swim fins and swimming out amongst the elements.

russell ord

How long can it take to set up a shot? Can you talk us through the process?

Setting up the shot is more about preparation. Being mentally and physically prepared for what the ocean may dish up and being able to make calculated judgments on the day is a major process. The ocean is not a controlled environment, so being aware of your surroundings and having safety requirements in place is imperative. The length of time for each shot will vary. It can be based around a solo exploration trip out into the ocean, or organising a small elite team of surfers and jetski drivers.

russell ord

Who influences you?

I like to influence my own work. A few years ago, I was going through my photos and just hated what I was looking at, everything looked easy, except for what the surfer was doing. They were having all the fun. So I decided to shift my approach to my work and brought in the physical challenges of swimming in the deep open water in order to capture the moment from a totally different angle. Since then, my photography has changed for the better.

How often do you travel?

I do roughly three magazine trips a year (two weeks for each trip) along with my own personal work, which is based around chasing the bigger swells (that rarely happen).

I have private clients who regularly commission me for photography work and it's not unusual for me to be away for up to a month at a time with them.

lips for days

Tell us about an average month in the life of Russell Ord?

That's a tough one - it changes from week to week depending on swell conditions and an editor's needs. It can take just one phone call and before you know it you're on the other side of Australia or heading overseas. You could get a phone call about a large swell on the way and two days later you're swimming in extremely large waves with the occasional big shark. In some strange way it can be very peaceful!

I'm always preparing for what may happen - I'll do a breathing course with Joe Knight, eat good food and do physical training. But I'm always trying to spend time with my beautiful wife and three children.