rush | 16 may 2018
half man, half seal, bryce wilson has been quietly bobbing around in our local lineups and regularly heading over to hawai'i to craft his own unique take on surf photography. Here Bryce takes us through his 10 favourite shots & gives us an insight into the dedication it takes to create images of substance.
photographs & captions: bryce wilson
interview: russell kleyn
Hi Bryce, where are you from in NZ?
Lower Hutt, Wellington, Aotearoa.
How long have you been dangling your toes in the ocean shooting surf/water photos?
With any true intent around about 4 years, then I got my first water housing 3 1/2 years ago.
We’ve noticed that you’ve been heading over to Oahu, Hawai'i to hone your water photography skills - when did you first head over there?
We first went over in 2012.
What's the scene like over on the North Shore? There must be a pretty intense vibe on the beach and in the water?
I’d say its more an broad complex of lots of different dynamics and its not just about the surf culture. A lot of people never take the time to research Hawaiian’s recent history to learn about the Colonisation and annexing, the unlawful overthrow of the Royalty, the roots of Surfing and attempt to banish it, and in more recent times the environmental battle that is going on with corporate chemical companies amongst a shit loads of other things. Its a little place that has had and continues to have a lot happening there….Sound familiar ?? it comes down to it its all about respect, if you respect their land, their water and their people that call it home (not just surfers)……Aloha will flow plentifully….. I am afraid a lot of visitors don’t.
"A lot of people never take the time to research Hawaiian’s recent history"
Any war-stories from the water? - near misses, hold downs, lurkies etc?
I guess the more you push yourself the more critical the situations come and I had my first real scary trashing at Off the Wall. A wide rough set came through, it was shallow and it smoked all the photographers and a bunch of riders and gave us all a dust up for 5+ waves…..Was a really good reminder of why you should wear a helmet and do Apnea training.
Lurkies….Orca’s, inquisitive Bronzies, plenty of playful seals, stingrays, nosey Blue penguins….but those are the ones that I knew about! haha.
Where do you stay when you are in Ohau?
We usually stay in Town anywhere really, but we’ve started splitting it up with a bit of time in the country (North Shore) its a lot quieter and chill up there. Although its pretty busy in Town I do love to take sunset swims to shoot the old boys wave sliding at Queens…..i just imagine what it would have been in the old days.
When did you first pick up a camera?
Geez, I have a camera of some sorts ever since I can remember maybe 12/13 I got my first Olympus point and shoot.
Do you make a living from water photography?
Nah, Its a hobby that I take seriously….I work a 9-5 Insurance job and it suits our current family situation & goals etc. I am just not in the space to hustle full time just yet, but it is on the horizon (another 5000 hours to go) Lol!
Who’s your favourite surfer/wave rider?
I am not a favourites kinda person, too many amazing wave sliders over too many generations. That being said, I always admired Dave “Rasta” Rastovich as a free rider and for this wholistic view on surfing.
What's your most memorable surf photography experience?
18th October 2015 - The RWC Quarter final was on AB’s vs France. I was parked up at the Corner at Lyall Bay before sun up waiting for the tide to drop out on a pumping long period swell. The tide dropped out and the sun peaked through and just a few of us had pumping wedge perfection for a couple of hours before the hoards swooped !!! The classic under hyped swell forecast scenario.
"snaking, dropping in, and paddling back too close to the action is standard."
What's the surf photography scene like in Wellington?
Its pretty cool to be honest, yeah you need to travel a little bit to find a peak, but its some of the most diverse coastline in NZ which is amazing for photography. That being said we do have a bit of a problem with etiquette in the Wellington region, snaking, dropping in, and paddling back too close to the action is standard. Yesterday was a classic example with 6 guys out and 3 people paddling and dropping into the wave…….I can understand why there is some frustration & tension in line up any given day.
How did you get started in surf photography?
Truth be known I was checking a weather forecast on an surf website www.gosurfnz.co.nz (no longer around) I was checking out the photo gallery and saw some in water surf photography from NZ surf photography legend Craig CPL Levers. And simply decided….I want to do that !!
"The golden hours are exactly that."
Any advice for young photographers looking to get into surf/water photography?
• Be the first person down on the beach & the last person to leave.
• Study the surf forecasts & work out which ones are reliable for you.
• The golden hours are exactly that.
• Be anonymous for more natural interactions.
• 70-200mm is a super versatile lens for land based shooting.
• Be mindful of shooting sensitive area’s along the coastline.
• You need to be a confident swimmer for water shots.
• Get a good set of swim Fins.
• Meikon housings are a great way to start.
• Start further back in the line up and work your way in.
• Get a helmet.
• Just start doing it.
Most of all have fun! and think beyond the car park...
Bryce Wilson: Website
Bryce Wilson: Facebook
Bryce Wilson: @wilson_and_co
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