On the Red Couch: Grant Ellis, Photo Editor, SURFER Magazine
Ever wonder how they get those sick photos in magazines like SURFER? Photo editor Grant Ellis let us in on the secrets of getting those shots.
The photos in SURFER are stunning. How do you get them?
Getting great surf shots has a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time. Surf photographers need to be constantly checking swell maps and weather conditions to make sure they show up at the right spot on the right day. Once they take care of that, they need to be in contact with good surfers who can put themselves in the right place on the right wave. After that there is a bit of luck involved to make all these elements come together.
What kind of cameras do your photographers use, and how do they protect them in the ocean?
Surf photographers mostly use the high-end pro version SLR (single lens reflex cameras) for shooting the action. Surfing is a high speed sport and you need a camera that shoots up to 10 frames a second to catch the perfect moment in the turn. When in the water, they use water housings that protect the cameras.
Are photographers themselves surfers?
A lot of surf photographers are or have been surfers. It takes some knowledge of surfing to know what the right moments are going to be and it helps to have surfed so you can anticipate the action.
How do surf photographers train to get the big shots?
The surf photographers that do a lot of shooting in the water train by swimming. A lot of the training comes from just being out there shooting all day. They all really love doing what they do so they are out there a lot. The training mostly takes care of itself.
What is your favorite SURFER photo and why?
That’s a tough question. I have been working as photo editor at SURFER for over eight years and have tons of favorites. I think they’re often the shots that are of waves and conditions I would love to be experiencing myself as a surfer. [Check out this gallery of some of Ellis’ own shots, along with the stories of how they happened. —ed.]
What are your essential must-read sections on Flipboard?
I enjoy the SURFER, and the Photos & Design category. One of my favorites is A Photo Editor.