A Different Landscape: Photographing Surfers in Oahu

Last October, my wife and I decided that instead of spending the holidays at home, we would take the kids on a vacation to Hawaii for a little fun in the sun. My wife and kids have never been to Hawaii and it’s been a while since I’ve last visited so we thought it would be the perfect time. Besides, I wanted to take some photos of the landscapes to add to my portfolio.


We booked a beachfront villa in one of those family friendly resorts in Oahu. When we arrived, we were greeted with refreshments and garlands made of orchids. What I loved about our resort was that we didn’t have to wait in the lobby to be checked in. We were lead to our villa as soon as we were handed our refreshments and that’s where we were asked to sign the check-in forms. Since we arrived very early in the morning, we decided to nap a little bit before we ventured out on to the beach.

When my kids decided they had enough time to rest already, we headed for the beach to look for surfing instructors. It didn’t take long for us to find one as they were many of them on the beach. As my wife was signing my kids up for lessons, I turned to look at the waves.

They were magnificent! I quickly understood why surfers from all over the world flocked to Oahu. I quickly turned on my camera so I could capture the scene. The surfers were a mixture of locals and tourists both young and old. One particular surfer caught my attention because he seemed to only be about 10 years old but he was already riding the pipelines like a pro! I was so fascinated by him that I didn’t realize I had taken about 100 photographs of him in under 15 minutes!

After seeing the boy on the beach for 3 consecutive days, I decided it was time I came up to him for a little chat. I learned that he was a local and yes, he was only 10 years old but his father started teaching him how to surf even before he could stand. At some point during our conversation, his dad arrived. I quickly introduced myself and asked if I could take some photographs of them while they surfed.

Upon learning that I was a professional photographer, he invited me to join them to go to another beach where the waves were bigger. He said that it’s where all of the more experienced surfers went and that I would probably get better photos there because the lighting would be better. He even told me I could bring my family along with me if I wanted. Of course, I couldn’t let an opportunity like that pass so after getting my gear from the villa and gathering my family together, we were on our way.

I was able to take fantastic photos of surfers because the lighting was in my favor. I even took some in black and white for a little dramatic effect. One of the other surfers had a surf board that allowed for a camera to be strapped on. It’s a good thing I decided to invest in a professional action camera before this trip. I was able to capture photos of the surfer inside a pipeline. They shots turned out to be unbelievable!

It’s a vacation I won’t be forgetting anytime soon not only because of all the wonderful photographs I was able to add to my portfolio. But also because my family and I were able to make new friends with locals and surfers from all over the world. I can’t wait until the next time we fly back to Oahu.


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