rush | 16th May 2017
Russell Ord is on a mission To photograph the perfect wave. He recently moved to NZ, and we caught up with him to get his perspective on big waves and find out what it’s like to stare down the barrel of Cyclops.
interview: mitch alison
photographs & captions: russell ord
L&B: Where are you from in Australia?
Russell Ord: I am from Margaret River, which is in Western Australia.
What's your earliest memory of surfing?
I still remember loading up this old single fin on the home made surf trolley (never see them anymore) and riding the 15km one way early in the morning during the winter to surf the crappiest beach break. I would arrive at the beach and all the stickered up surfers from around the area would just laugh at me walking down the beach with this brown crusty board with no wetsuit, I didn’t care less, I loved the ocean.
When did you first get into surfing?
I was into body surfing with my old man from 6-11 and progressed to the beat up old single fin once we moved a little closer to the beach.
Who's your favourite surfer?
As a kid it was the two Tom’s – Carroll and Curren.
What's your favourite surf break?
Main break Margaret River is where I have done 90% of my surfing, I just love how you can surf the place from 1-15 foot, when I am taking photos its basically anywhere where I am floating out to sea on my own.
What do you think of Kiwi surf culture so far?
I just arrived home from surfing down around the Taranaki area and then onto Raglan, it felt like Margaret River 20 years ago, super relaxed and a really good vibe in the water, I met a number of people on that trip that were just stoked on life.
How does it differ from Australia?
There are places in Australia that I don’t even know how someone would even want to attempt dealing with the competitive nature of the crowds, no doubt that is here also however on a whole when you get away from those areas its really similar.
When and how did you get into photography?
I injured my knee (surfing) 20yrs ago and instead of just sitting on the lounge for a few months I picked up a camera and started taking photos of mates and the local board-riders club I surfed in, getting back my first few rolls of slides that were well and truly underexposed certainly opened my eyes to the steep learning curve I was in for, however I felt more drawn to photography than actual surfing when hanging around the beach, I then became incredibly passionate when I started shooting from the water.
What's your advice for young Kiwis who want to make a career out of photography?
Think of photography as doing a trade, you don’t buy thousands of dollars worth of tools and become a master craftsman over night, any profession takes time. Seek out mentors that can help guide you from business to practical photography skills. I still find photographers that I admire and ask if I could hold their bags while they shoot to see their processes, it’s all about learning which never stops.
What's the gnarliest moment you've experienced in the water?
The last few years I have been trying to push my photographic boundaries in waves of consequence and during those sessions I have had some serious moments of self doubt, the occasional Great White scare however it was when I was surfing at a remote wave up North of WA and was charged by a huge Tiger Shark which decided at the very last moment (1m away) that I was not on the menu, I vividly remember just how small I felt in that moment and also how beautiful it was when it cruised in the face of the next wave.
russell ord: www.russellordphoto.com
russell ord: @russellordphoto
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