Top 5 Surf Photography Tips

No matter if you are a tenderfoot, a professional photographer or just an occasional photography enthusiast, there’s always something in store for everyone. You can always learn a trick or two.

And surf photography is one of the finest activities for fun and playfulness. With advanced cameras and latest technological developments, it has become easier than ever. Gone are the days when it was a cumbersome task. If you’re someone looking for those perfect portraits, wonderful beach shots and master the art of surf photography, then you are at the right place. We have carefully arranged some of the expert surf photography tips and techniques which would make your experience much easier and fun.

Here are the top 5 tips for great surf photography which are simple and straightforward. Implementing them today is definitely going to up your game.

Frame and Compose Your Shot

Frame and Compose your Shot

For a better capture, try to frame and compose your shot. Doing the homework ensures better quality of capture because with surf photos, positioning the surfer in action has to be done right. This is possible only when you make the necessary arrangements beforehand or else you might miss the shot. Right frame, and composition is critical for better clicks. When you don’t consider composition, you may not be able to capture the mood and fun of surfing.

Use Appropriate Shutter Speed

To get consistent surf action photography results keep shutter speed as priority mode. It produces better pictures than fully manual and automatic priority modes, where you can either change each setting or none. You might want to do a little bit of experimentation beforehand to see which shutter speed would give you desirable results. According to pro photographers, having the aforesaid half-manual and half-automatic mode, also known as TV Mode, often allows you to focus on variables better. TV mode may be the best option for you when it comes to capturing the action of night surfing.

Avoid Camera Shake

Avoid Camera Shake

This is the biggest mistake most of the amateurs and first timers make. As you are going to capture motion shots, always ensure that the camera doesn’t shake. Experts recommend using the right equipment and practising some experimental photography for improved results. It is advisable to use tripods for better capture and to avoid camera shake while capturing the thrill of surfing.



Great photography is all about choosing the right set of light. The good part is that with surf photography, you can try different lighting for different kind of effects. Experts recommend using the natural light setting for best results however that may not always be possible. That’s when you need to come up with the right settings. Adjustments needed to make are different for day and night photography.

Choosing the Backgrounds

Choosing the Backgrounds

Right background is the key to a good clean high action photo. Where you plan to position yourself for your shot can set the whole scene perfectly. Other than the surf action, you need to give your viewer something more to latch on to. Choose the right spot and background depending on whether you want a simple and plain background or want to experiment with views of secondary subjects to give the sense of scale of your surf. If you are capturing something beautiful like surfing in the Mentawai Islands, you should look for angles that showcase the little extra something.

Pro Tip for Night Action

While shooting from the land at night, surf action may get slightly indistinct due to lack of the right set of equipment. That’s when using a long lens comes in handy. But if you are composing both foreground and background in your image, you won’t necessarily need 600mm lens. Something between 200-400mm could do depending on the camera you are using.

Fast lenses with wider openings (aperture) let in as much light as possible; lower the number, more the light. Though a good photograph is a result of a photographer’s imagination, the right equipment is needed to capture the night action. Also, you need to maintain a fair distance between you and the subject which would let you capture the shot beautifully. In fact, not only at night, this applies to day photography as well.

For more composition ideas, you can head to the insta accounts of the top surfers of the world. You can enjoy many mesmerizing shots and even learn some tips on your own, that we might have missed.

What are you waiting for? Get ready to dive into a world of imagination and capture some of the best shots and create memories for a lifetime.

Let’s do it!