How to Photograph a Big Break

Binteo is a new online community intended to connect “people who share the same interests and passions. It’s all about making connections, getting answers, and helping each other.” Their PR people got in touch with us because surf photographer Christopher Mayer is “expert” on the site and he has some ideas to share about how best to capture the perfect break shot. 

How to Photograph a Big Break

From Surf Photographer and Expert Christopher Mayer

Step 1: Gear Up to Get Wet. 

One of the most important investments you can make when pursuing your career or hobby in surf photography is waterproof housing. There are a number of good brands, with different shapes and sizes available, so choose one that fits you and your camera best. Just be sure to set all camera settings prior to mounting your camera in the housing and heading into the ocean. Once the camera is locked in the housing, you’ll have limited options and camera setting controls.

Step 2: Stay Cool. 

Your camera temperature needs to be relative to the water temperature so don’t leave your camera sitting out on the hot sand or in your car before diving in the cool water to start shooting. The drastic temperature change will make your camera foggy when in the water and you won’t be able to get a clear shot. If waiting at the beach for the right conditions before shooting, keep your camera cool by covering it in a towel or storing in a shady, cool area. Next, make sure the port/lens is lubricated so the ocean water won’t bleed and ruin your photos with water spots. Just like with snorkeling, you need to frequently spit on the lens to be sure you are keeping the port/lens lubricated to capture clear photos.

Step 3: Point, Shoot and Swim! 

Don’t underestimate the power of the ocean and make sure you’re a strong swimmer. With a camera in one hand, you are essentially swimming with just one arm for an extended period of time. For deep water, invest in a good pair of fins for extra power. Fins aren’t necessary if planning to stay in the shore break as you’ll need to be able to stand and move around to catch shore break photos. If you don’t feel ready to get in the water, but still want to start practicing, stand on the beach or pier to practice your craft, which eliminates the challenge of swimming while shooting.

Step 4: Catch Your Big Break. 

For clean, crisp shots of waves, shoot with the light. Shooting with the light helps create colorful, clear photos of your subject. Not all cameras have the ability, but when shooting action sports like surfing, shoot in multiple frames per second so you don’t miss the big moment. For dramatic contrast, such as a shadowed silhouette, shoot into the light. Try not to make any dramatic movements when you are ready to pull the trigger. This can be difficult with the moving waves, but focus the camera, line up your perfect subject, and shoot. Keep a steady hand before you actually snap your photos for clear, impactful images.

For more advice on catching the best oceanic photos, your can interact directly with Mayer on

For additional background on Mayer, please visit

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