Surf’s Up For Photographers In Extreme Photo Contest

Surf photography has to be one of the most challenging and demanding genres in the history of image-making. Not only do you have to manage exposure, composition and lighting, but also the forces of Mother Nature. Intense? You bet!

With all this considered, the finalist images from the Nikon 2019 Surf Photo of The Year contest, are absolutely stunning. The photo contest saw finalist images selected from a panel of 13 high-profile judges from within the surfing industry based on a criteria list including innovation and creativity, dramatic affect and sensory impact, uniqueness and creative composition. While the winners will be announced in early April, we’re lucky enough to share a selection of these images to provide photographers who like to live on the wild side plenty of inspiration.

This amazing capture by John Respondek shows incredible split-second timing. The photographer commented on the image of surfer Harry Bryant ; ‘Here’s Harry, mid speed pump at a secret spot on the South Coast. I’d say less than 10% of his boards is actually in the water in this moment.’


Image by John Respondek/ Nikon SPOTY

Surf and travel photographer Angus Sheridan was named a finalist for his image entitled; ‘Sunset Air’, which was captured in the waters off Indonesia.


Image by Angus Sheridan/ Nikon SPOTY.

Not all the finalist images required the photographer to get their feet wet. Paul Smith’s finalist image, entitled; ‘Unfinished Symphony’ was taken at Noosa Heads in Queensland and saw the photographer shoot from a helicopter. Smith commented; ‘ The perfect lines remind me of the lines on sheet music, with the surfers being the notes.’


Image by Paul Smith/ Nikon SPOTY.

A shoulder injury meant Scott Bauer couldn’t get in the water when shooting commercial diver Shannan Worrall riding a wave in Western Australia, but he managed to capture this stunning abstract frame that includes sand, sea and sky.


Image by Scott Bauer/ Nikon SPOTY

Some finalist images featured the surf, not the surfer, as the star of the frame, such as this epic capture by Scott Harrison for his image entitled ‘The Reward’. Scott commented; ‘A spot that a friend and I found that takes a bit of effort to get to. Needs the right swell and wind direction to come together for the backwash to really happen. We had been many times with okay results, but this morning everything lined up perfectly and I was rewarded with this split second moment in time under some amazing morning light.’


Image by Scott Harrison/ Nikon SPOTY

Surf photographers have to think on their feet and work fast. Stu Gibson’s image of surfer Mikey Brennan, was named as a finalist photo and Stu commented; ‘the light popped for about 20 mins then it went back to cold and ugly shippies.’


Image by Stu Gibson/Nikon SPOTY.