Photography news and tips

actionpics Surf Photography Competition - First Prize US$300




Hello good people!

actionpics is a new marketplace specifically designed for action photographers to sell their photos of non-professional sports people in action. Intuitive and simple to use, it is the easiest and cheapest way for photographers to sell their art. To celebrate our launch, we are proud to announce we are holding a series of Photography Competitions.

For this contest, all you need to do is submit a surf photography photo to be in the running to win the first prize of US$300!

Go to the contest page by clicking the link below.  From there you can upload your photo and share far and wide.

The most likes wins! 


The rules are simple. The photo must be of surfing or bodyboarding, be of your own creation, and not be in breach of any copyright laws. And important to know, all photos submitted remain the property of the photographer. You do not relinquish your rights to your art! Please read the terms and conditions on the contest page before entering for more details.   

The contest will go for 3 weeks, starting on Friday, the 12th of January, 2018, Australian EST, ending 13th of February.

We thought long and hard about how to draw attention to actionpics so more and more photographers could benefit from what we have created. Supporting the industry and community we are a part of is of utmost importance to us and by holding these competitions we can avoid paying giant companies like Facebook for advertising, and instead, keep more money in the industry, and more money in the hands of the artists- the actual value creators.

So let’s get out in the ocean, be safe, have fun, and take some photos!

Best of luck with the competition!

For more information on actionpics you can read about it here.

To sign up for a free membership visit here.



Under the Lens: Interview with Surf Photographer Jordan Godley

Meet the avid traveler and excellent surf photographer Jordan Godley who chatted with us about his biggest passion, Surf Photography. Natural, smooth lighting, depth, and good timing is what characterize Jordan's pictures. Read further!

Old Man's on the incoming...

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Thanks a lot for chatting with us today, Jordan. First of all, where did you grow up?

I grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney, 2 hours from the beach.My mum used to drive me a few times during the school holidays and for my birthday to the beach. But I didn't get to the beach much as a kid. When I was old enough I used to catch the train then ferry to Manly beach, which usually took around 2 hours one way, or another 2 hour train trip south to Cronulla beach. We used to camp at the beach every school holidays, Easter and Christmas was always spent at the beach. We mainly went down the south coast of New South Wales, Gerringong, Sussex Inlet.

How did you get into surf photography?

I just enjoyed videoing and taking photos of our Surf trips (with a disposable camera) and it just progressed from there. Around 17 years old when we could drive to the beach I started taking pictures, I guess it was at this age also because I had a job and could afford to purchase a disposable camera. I can't really say I was getting amongst big surf when I was younger, but I didn't start shooting waves until the age of 17-ish so by that stage I was pretty comfortable in the ocean and big waves.

By the time I moved to the beach to live (when I was 23). I was fine with any waves. I mainly shoot reefs at home so most of the time once you get used to the break it was ok, not too many bad rips etc.

At which breaks did you start as a surf photographer, do you have any favourites (without spoiling any secret spots)?

I started shooting anywhere we surfed, I didn't have a local beach growing up, but mainly on the south coast of NSW, Australia. Anywhere on the south coast of NSW, there are heaps of amazing waves. My favorites are slabbing reefs, and maybe one beach break. Pretty much all are reefs, I love big slabbing waves and that's what I've had close by in the past 10 years.

Little man - solid wave

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Is it dangerous being a photographer in those conditions?

It can be if you don't understand the ocean or the wave etc. You always end up with scratches and cuts nearly every surf (mainly from getting in and out of the water), but nothing too serious.

What is the biggest appeal about surf photography, and what do you like to shoot?

The feeling I get from capturing special moments in the water, seclusion in the ocean also floating around by myself watching the sun rise or set. What gear do you currently use? I have a Nikon D750 D500, Nikon 70-200 f/4, Sigma 35mm 1.4 art, Nikon 20mm 1.8G Aquatech housing. In what format do you shoot? Do you edit your photos at all (in Lightroom, Photoshop etc.)? I shoot RAW files always and process the images through Lightroom. I've never really used Photoshop, I don't need or want to edit my images that much so I just stick to basic processing through Lightroom.

What camera housings have you used over the years?

I've stuck to Aquatech housings, I love the clip system they use, whereas other housing manufacturers use nuts/bolts etc. which I don't think I could stand to use.

What's your favorite moment out in the surf?

Jumping into the ocean in the dark and watching heavy waves breaking on first light, seeing beautiful colors and how it reflects off the waves trying to capture this magic naturally rather than needing Photoshop saturation etc. (which I hate seeing).

Any specific sessions come to mind?

There are way too many! I've had a lot of good times in the ocean, from my first good image I nailed of the best friend, to my first image I had published, swimming with seals, dolphins etc. Most of the epic sessions I've had are early morning before the sun has come up, just the feeling of walking through the muddy track, knowing it could be pumping, it's freezing cold but you don't care and no one is around its just you and pumping waves. Those are the days I chase and dream about.

Have you had any scary moments?

I've seen a fair few sharks, although never been attacked or bothered by them. I've also been thrown over the falls at a heavy slab when I was still in recovery from knee surgery ha ha, and luckily I ended up ok. Other than that nothing really, just learnt to be in the right spot and constantly swimming to make sure I'm in position.

Wow, what kind of sharks do you see down in Oz? And what happened when you got sucked over the falls?

I'm no shark expert so I'm not too sure what sharks they were, but a few of them have been really big! Going over the falls was OK, it was more I thought I would have twisted my knee again, but the water goes from shallow to deep pretty quick and I've never hit the bottom at this spot so the whole time I was just worried about the knee. It was a reef wave, probably 6ft plus that day, pretty solid and I was sitting wide on my bodyboard shooting with an 85mm prime lens, so it was more of a surprise to get caught by a rogue wave.

Where to from here?

Just continue to focus on taking good quality photos and experimenting in the way I present my work.

Do you have any dream spots you'd love to shoot? What is it about that break that appeals to you?

I have two types of waves I would love to shoot, one, super heavy slabbing waves and two, is waves that involve some adventure to get to and have an epic location and backdrop. I would say Indonesia has some amazingly scenic waves. I was in the Banyak Islands last year and some of the spots there are so beautiful! I guess I'd love to shoot in Tahiti (with no crowds), South Australia has some amazing waves, Lagundri Bay in Nias, Greenbush in the Mentawai islands and Apocalypse on Java.

Where did you travel during your year? Did you visit any epic breaks?

I started off in the Banyak Islands, Indonesia for around 3 months, then I was in Bali (Canggu) for a few months of the year, then I did a few short trips to Java (Batu Karas, Watukarung), Sumbawa (Supersuck), Rote Island. All these places had amazing waves! And towards the end of the year I flew from Bali to England, France then Portugal where I got some amazing waves in Ericiera, Peniche and now I've just arrived in Morocco... then I'll head to the Canary Islands.

What are your sources of revenue?

Currently I'm living off savings. I had a few photography jobs early last year that allowed me to travel most of the year but now I'm down to savings from my old job. I also worked as a photographer on a surf boat for a few months. Then I've made some money through private sales of images and private shooting sessions and having a few images run on websites. I don't make much money at all, I had saved up a fair amount of money before leaving home so I didn't need to chase money with my photography, and I just wanted to focus on taking good photographs of good waves. BUT I will need to try make some money soon otherwise I will run out, ha ha.

Tell us more about selling images to regular everyday surfers.

When I'm out shooting in the water people will approach me asking if they can purchase the images or view what images I have of them. I usually would direct them to my website and send them a link to a gallery of the images from that session, then sometimes they will ask to buy the images and sometimes they will just screenshot the image and use it without my permission... which is not cool at all.

Any advice for the young/inexperienced?

Read your camera manual and understand your camera inside and out, refer to YouTube tutorials on how to get the best images out of your camera. Ask questions to photographers whose work you like. Analyze your own photos and understand what you like and dislike about them. Be open to criticism and comments regarding your photography, it helps you grow. With Surf photography it's also handy to understand and study surf conditions and what surf spots work in what conditions etc. Also preparation is key for me, I prepare all my gear the night before I shoot, then when I wake up at some crazy early hour I don't need to think and hence I won't forget anything (whether it be contacts, battery, memory card, wax, flippers, wetsuit etc.).


A @craig__anderson look alike 🧐 #samesamebutdifferent #switchfoot

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Connect with Jordan here:

Jordan Godley:
@jordangodleyphoto (Instagram)

5 tips to get the perfect surf picture

     1. Know your camera settings

Shutter who? Aperture what? ISO? Most cameras nowadays come with a completely “green” mode, meaning all these settings are completely automatic. This is usually fine for holiday photographers who just want to take snap shots, but if you really want to get serious about photography, and get full control, you need to know what these settings are. Luckily, it’s super easy:

The biggest two are shutter speed and aperture.

Shutter speed is the amount of time the cameras sensor is exposed to light. A shutter speed of 1/500 means the shutter will be open and exposed to light for a 500th of a second. If you are photographing in bright daylight, you need a quick shutter speed to avoid overexposure (a picture that is too bright). Similarly, if you photograph at night, you might need shutter speeds of up to 30 seconds to get enough light in your sensor.

Aperture is the size of the hole in the lens, where light enter the sensor. The shutter speed controls the time the aperture will stay open for an image to appear in the sensor. Logically, a large hole will provide more light to the sensor, and a smaller one will provide less light. This will in turn affect the shutter speed, as different times will be required for enough light to enter and make an exposure that is balanced. A low f number (i.e. f/2.8) is a large aperture and a big number (i.e. f/16) is a small aperture. A large aperture will provide a shallow depth of field whilst a small aperture will give a longer depth of field.

Good settings for surf/wave photography would be to use a fast shutter speed to really freeze the action, with a high enough aperture or f number enough to balance that shutter speed. For close up wave shots, a very large aperture gives a cool effect, but you have to be really careful with where you place the focus.

     2. Equipment

  • Low budget: Any cheap point-and-shoot camera with an underwater housing will do for getting started. The downside of the cheaper cameras is that there is usually a delay between pressing the button and the camera actually taking the picture. In action situations, this can make it really difficult to take the picture in the right moment. With practice, this delay can be accounted for, making you click it in the right time anyway. 
    Gopros are also a cheap and easy way to get started but are limited with their fixed fish-eye lens.

  • Medium budget: Sony A6000 with underwater housing is a very popular choice. It’s small, has the ability to change lenses and both the camera and the housing do not cost a fortune. To have a look at the Liquid Eye Housing for the A6000, which we at actionpics personally vouch for, check out the excellent Learning Surf Photography website. This is one of the more affordable high-quality housing producers. Sony's later models A6300, A6500 for a little extra cash give you better video options.
    As for compact the compact action cameras, another great option is the Sony RX0, which, although more expensive, is giving the GoPro a run for its money.  

  • High budget: Any high-end DSLR with underwater housing (I would personally go with Nikon or Canon) and a large aperture (f/2.8) lens around 30mm. Beware that housings for DSLR’s are very expensive if you want to get one of good quality ($1000-$1600 is not uncommon). More expensive cameras generally have a good frames per second rating (usually 7 FPS) which is perfect for surf photography. The most popular housing for high-end DSLR cameras are made by Aquatech.

     3. Use lighting to your advantage

This also goes for photographing on dry land, dawn and dusk more often than not provide the most interesting light conditions. Bright day light is way more forgiving in surf photography, as the wave or surfer usually is the main focus in the picture. But the same object taken as the sun is about to set could make the shot way more interesting. Just beware of your exposure in darker conditions (if you are not using a flash) and use your ISO setting wisely, too much on cheaper cameras makes the image very noisy). It is important to practice in all light conditions to get to know your gear and how it performs in a particular environment. But especially important, don’t go swimming alone just before the sun sets. This is very dangerous, even for professional surf photographers and swimmers. Know your limits, no picture is worth sacrificing your personal safety for.

     4. Be creative

Surf and wave photography is a very experimental type of photography. The trained eye can have an idea of what a wave will do, but no one in the world knows for sure exactly how it will behave, as each wave is different. Similarly this will affect the surfers riding the wave, they have to make adjustments in the moment to suit the style of that particular wave. Get creative, take as many shots as possible in different light conditions and angles. Going to a shorebreak and getting bodyboarders in barrels is a great way to capture amazing images. Try different shutter speeds and apertures for different effects. Maybe a clear barrel shot with your city’s skyline nicely peaking through the eye of the wave at sunset? Or a slower shutter speed picture of a surfer wiping out on the biggest set of the day in gloomy rainy conditions? Take as many shots as you can, and practice in small waves. There is a whole culture now of people photographing mini waves, it's crazy fun and you should do it too. Some people even photoshop surfers in these mini waves as a gag (not that we are encouraging docting .

     5. Stay safe

Before you venture out as a surf photographer, you must read up on tides, winds and wave forecasts, and really understand these concepts and how they relate to your home beach. Some surf spots for example will have a dry or close to dry reef in low tide, which could be really dangerous if the waves are big (they usually get more powerful in shallow low tide so keep that in mind). Also understand that wind and tide conditions will affect the waves. Glassy wave conditions are seen with very light or zero wind, or mild offshore breezes. Stronger onshore wind makes the wave face lumpy and bumpy. High tide waves are generally less powerful and low tide waves more powerful, as a shallow depth makes the wave face jack up more coming from deeper sea. There are many spots which still has powerful high tide waves though, so really read up on your surf spot before you go out, and, if you can, go with a buddy so you can watch out for each other.

One of the most important things to understand for any swimmer or surfer is rip currents (they should teach this in school in my opinion). They are the cause of most drowning cases each year, mainly due to panic/exhaustion from the unawareness of what they are. A rip current is a narrow, fast moving current of water going out to sea, ending past the breaking waves. The mass of water that travels to the beach will find the path of least resistance to get out to sea again, usually in a deeper channel. The area where the rip current flows will have less or no waves, which often attracts unknowing swimmers. On beaches with sand bottom, rip currents move with the sand. It will often be different in colour from the surrounding water, and could be foamy, bubbly and have debris floating on the surface.

The way to escape a rip current is to swim parallel to the beach until you are out of it, and letting the breaking waves push you towards the beach. Alternatively, you could relax and let it take you past the breaking waves where the current dissipates, and signal for help.

Always go with a friend and go to a beach that has lifeguards on duty, and start out photographing in small waves. Look for warning flags, and be very careful of surfers and surfboards in the water. Do not be in front of them and do not be in the way. Photograph surfers from more of a distance until you are confident with handling yourself in surf conditions. Remember that the fins on a surfboard are sharp, so dive deep if you find yourself in a situation where a surfer is coming towards you. I recommend wearing a helmet for when photographing surfers, you will know if you have ever got hit in the head by a surfboard.

Obviously, stay healthy and fit. Go swimming as often as you can, go body surfing, body boarding or surf to get familiar with being in the water. If you can, take a surf class to learn more about waves and ocean conditions.

Go get some!

What is actionpics

actionpics is a marketplace specifically designed for action photographers to sell their photos of non-professional sports people in action. Intuitive and simple to use, it is the easiest and cheapest way for photographers to sell their art.

With an easy­-to­-remember and find website and a simple search feature, actionpics makes the transaction a whole lot easier, as photographers can simply upload their photos, name the location, time and date, and the customer can easily find their photos with a quick search.

actionpics is committed to providing an excellent service while keeping the costs to the photographer as low as possible. We have the free-member option of no joining or annual/monthly membership fees and have minimised sales royalties to keep the revenue where it belongs: in the pockets of the artists!

How it works…

Imagine you’re in the water at your local surf break, you have your camera prepped in your housing and are treading water in the perfect spot. A surfer up the line begins to paddle for a wave. She pulls in, you line her up, chick! chick! click! chick! chick! You get an awesome sequence of shots of her pulling into a barrel. As she paddles back out feeling absolutely amazing, you tell her you caught her moment and it’ll be on “actionpics”. You go home, upload, name the price, location, time and date, and sit back and relax. The customer looks up actionpics, finds her amazing wave, and without any further interaction with the photographer, buys the photos. No emails, no watermarking, no hassles. 

And it costs you as a photographer nothing until you actually sell the photos. You can upload your high definition photos, and create a portfolio to showcase your work, all completely free!

You can also sell photos from your local football, baseball, tourist spot, wherever! Giving regular people the opportunity to buy high quality photos of themselves doing what they love is what we are all about. We learned in our research that < 80% of surfers said they would pay ranging from $20 to $100 for a good shot of themselves surfing. actionpics now makes it easier than ever to tap into this market, and with no upfront cost.   

How the site works…

A group of photos uploaded together with the same location, time and date, makes a “session”. This can be assigned a session price and sold as a group of photos. A session may be of the one sporting event, or photos of a particular player on that day, for example. Individual photos of a session can also be assigned an individual price and sold separately. To save time, sessions can have a default price which is given to all individual photos in that session, and the price of individual photos can also be edited - important for when you get that perfect shot that warrants a higher price tag.

Security is of utmost importance to us at actionpics and thus all photos are watermarked upon upload and the original hi-resolution photo is stored separately to guarantee security. Only the purchaser will have access to the original photo.  

We use the payment gateway, Braintree, an affiliation of Paypal, so no credit card details are stored on our servers, ensuring the safest transactions for all customers. Payments from apple pay and android pay are also available giving your customer additional options. In a couple of clicks, the customer has purchased your beautiful creation.

To sign up go here.
For instructions on using the site go here.
For more help, visit our Help page or Contact us.