The Photographers Of Lockdown

The Photographers Of Lockdown

Lockdown, in fact this whole last twelve months involved a lot of Instagram activity. For me that involved getting sucked into the world of surf photography deeper than ever. It is without a doubt one of my great passions in life, I love seeing the variety of imagery that photographers create, from brash documentary, pure sports photography right through to ocean art, all of it is worthy in my eyes, and diversity is what makes surf photography so interesting. Now I thought I was more or less alone in this love, having spent ten years as a surf photographer, and now curating The Path, I am quite obsessed even though my health means I haven’t shot for three years myself. But delving into the world of surf photographers is inspirational around the UK and Ireland, and even when traditional routes to making money have disappeared creativity has prospered. 


The Dawn Days Crew

Perhaps one of the most beautiful has been the Dawn Days movement, lead by the beautifully creative Nick Pumphrey. The idea and the purity of just getting out for those first tens of minutes before and at sunrise, no matter what the weather is awesome. It’s cleansing, for body and mind and the creativity surrounding it is fantastic. Nick is an incredibly artistic photographer and the crew down in St Ives, who I must admit I didn’t know a lot about, James Warbey, Rt shots, are all really interesting. The Addition of film maker Greg Dennis and then north of the boarder the brilliant Mike Guest has made it pretty awesome, when combined with everyone else as well. 

Check out Mike Guest on looking sideways podcast HERE 

Then there is the opposite end of the spectrum and Conor Flanagan in Ireland, when he pops up it’s usually a fucking crazy shot of Gearoid or Conor charging some hideous slab, shot by Conor in an equally as tricky spot. Love this guys work, he is one of the few photographers around still trying to get unimaginable angles in really proper surf. 


Then there is Sharpy, the most experienced lensman in the UK, possibly Europe, he has been teasing with a guided tour through trips and shoots, which has been epic, especially for the many subjects he has shot in British surfing over the years.


A Norfolk Sunrise by Joshua Patrick

On the East coast we have Joshua Patrick adding some incredible light on the Norfolk and Suffolk scene, and Chris Kenadall up in the North East, supplementing the excellent Lewis Arnold. Plus there is Chris Mcclean, who we love.

In northern Scotland you got to follow Malcolm Anderson, just for documenting every ripple of swell that hits the north coast, Sam Howard,  and then there is Aussie transplant Thomas Horig who adds a classic water angle on a lot of the slabs. Then there is also Matteo Crawford, who has a different take on it all up there that we really love. 


A Winter Classic By Phil in North Wales

One of our favourites, and probably because we know the area so well is Phil Boyd and the north west of Wales, they have some waves up there, and it’s the only place int he Uk where mountains and surf combine, love everything about it up there. Phil’s shots are epic as well, really enjoy every post he does.


We love what Darragh is up to in Ireland

Back to Ireland, we love Darragh and Lighthouse Industries, he gets some really beautiful angles and uses light so well up and around Bundoran. Down in Claire we love Fergals bro Kevin’s angle on everything, it is refreshing. 

Gordan Fontaine by Gary Knights down not he south coast

 Along the south coast of England, Gary Knights, he is such a great rounded photographer, and also Dan Hunter, both down in Bournemouth. 

 On the south side of Cornwall there is also an epic bunch, Mike Lacey perhaps the best known for his galleries, and beautiful wave shots. But we love Mike Newman, he is such a quality photographer. Also glad that Matt Butler is out shooting again, he has the the best hashtag in the south west #pastylight and uses it beautifully. Plus there is also the excellent Atlantic Walrus.

 There are so many and then up on the north coast of Cornwall there are so many now, Laurie Mccall, Matt SmithJamie Ellliot, Leanne Jones, Clare James,  Stewart McKellar, Mike Holland, Clive Sym, Ollie Sweet, Matt Arney so much inspiration out there.  Oh and Caleb Giddens, worth a look as he has his own mag coming out.

Skindog by Laurie Mccall


The there is our land locked favourite, Mike Spencer, normally he's turning up at every swell, but living in Leicester, a fair way from the ocean must have been tough. Check him out though he has some awesome images. 

Last but not least, up in Devon, one of our favourites for more than just his photography Nick Corkill but also for being an amazing human. there are many more in Devon, I'll add some fo you!


What I’m trying to say is, these guys, and so many more (I know I've missed some that I will ad), are documenting moments in our culture, not just a fleeting hit for instagram, but actual moments of importance, in a fleeting glimpse on instagram they may not seem to mean much, but over time they are important parts of our surfing culture, and whilst print may not be the preferred medium anymore, it doesn’t make what they are all doing any less important. 


The second bit of lockdown photography came to the clearance of surf mags in my life, incredibly I had just over 2000 of them, every Carve, Wavelength, Pit Pilot, Slide, Threesixty, Fin, Surf Europe, TSJ, Water Mag, Sponger, TSP and then a sizeable helping of Surf, ESM, Surfing, Surfer, Transworld Surf, Surf Session, Zig Zag, ASL, Tracks, Surfing World, Whitehorses and Waves, pretty mental really. But in a really bored moment I roughly, well actually quite thoroughly thought I’d see who is the most published UK/Irish photog of all time. So here is the top five, and it may surprise a little bit. 


1. Roger Sharp (now Marsh) AKA Sharpy - Sharpy has been shooting since the nineties, he led the more modern era of surf photography in these waters and had many of the greats as mentors of sorts from Ted Grambeau to the likes of Chris Power at Carve. He edited and photo edited five magazines - Sponger, Fin, Slide, Surf Europe and Carve, as well as being a retained photog for Wavelength for a period and being the go to photographer for O’Neill for a good decade, and many more companies. He has shot everyone, been everywhere more or less, and word on the street is he has a book coming so check him out, He is also the best writer in the game over here, which really helps get stuff published, and if he hadn’t turned (wisely) to film making he would have undoubtedly had a lot more published. 

A classic Sharpy cover of this very magazine back in 2005


2. Al Mackinnon - This may surprise you that it is not Mickey, but Al in recent years has been the most published UK photog globally by miles, he’s pretty much a fixture in The Surfer’s Journal, he filled the pages of TSP for years, is a major contributor to Carve and is Patagonias go to photographer in the UK and was Finisterre for years, so it’s not surprising. Here is three of his TSJ Covers.


3. Mickey Smith - Mickey has broken more ground than any other UK/Irish photog, is undoubtably the best known, but his flame shone brightly for a relitively short time compared to Al and Sharpy, and although over that period he ruled, he went on the make films and then become a rock star as you do. A legend for sure. 


Darkside Of The Lens from mickey smith on Vimeo.


4. Alex Williams - May surprise you this one, but Alex was filling magazines before the top three picked up a camera, he was a staffer at Carve, he was staff photog and photo editor on TSP at the beginning and was the best shooter through the eighties and nineties by a country mile, and filled reams of pages. 


5. Ben Selway - Things got tight for the last spot, but Ben was a staffer for Carve and then photo ed for Wavelength for eight years, as well as having shots in TSP, and globally. He also shot loads of campaigns for companies, and in my humble opinion is the best all round photog in the UK/irish surf world, his range of water, land and lifestyle is unrivalled. 


Notable mentions - Will Bailey, Lucia Grigi, Greg Martin and more recently the Irish Scott Aichner Cononor Flanagan all deserve a serious mention, all have filled a lot of pages, but don’t quite hold steady with the top five.


Anyway all just fun, whilst we’ve all be locked in our houses, but we'd urge you to go give all these guys a follow, and there are many more. 


As always we are here only due to your support, we're out of subscriptions now, but we have plenty of individual mags and every sale helps us.