Interview with Russell Ord | GBPW Episode 168

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Quick summary

Russell Ord is an Australian surf photographer who takes stunning images in the ocean. In this interview, he talks about the career transition that changed his life, how he takes surf photos, his hopes for the future, and much more.

Russell ord

It wasn’t until I reflected on the whole journey that the shot meant so much more to me.

Russell Ord

You can also listen to this episode on iTunes, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Castbox, and Google Podcasts.

portrait of surf photographer by Russell Ord

In this episode, I speak with surf photographer Russell Ord, who documents the ocean adventures of athletes and surfing enthusiasts in Australia. After working for 20 years as a firefighter, Russell decided to pursue full-time photography. Even though it wasn’t an easy decision to make, it led to a plethora of amazing opportunities, from magazine cover features to the creation of a documentary.

We talk about:

  • Why Russell Ord decided to become a full-time surf photographer
  • The process of taking bold and vibrant surf photographs
  • The values that every photographer should have

Russell Ord is a very talented photographer and mentor. Thanks to the twists and turns in his life, he has a lot of wisdom to share. Make sure to listen to this interview if you’re interested in the art of surf photography, mentorship, and managing a full-time business.

Here is a preview of our conversation with Russell Ord.

wide shot of surfer by Russell Ord

Q: What is something that you wish everyone knew about surf photography?

Russell Ord: Just how difficult it is to get certain shots. That’s like all types of photography. When I look at surf photography and how people have taken certain shots, I know the effort that’s gone into it.

It would be like looking at a mountain climbing photo. You just imagine how much effort that photographer put into the shot. People take that for granted. When I see certain shots, especially in surf photography, I just know the effort that’s gone into them and the experience behind the images.

long exposure surfing shot by Russell Ord

Q: What kind of preparation is necessary for beginners in surf photography?

Russell Ord: If you’re going in the ocean, you want to be able to keep calm. When you’re keeping calm, you think better.

That breath hold journey, if you’re getting dumped by a wave, is just so much easier if you relax with it.

Anyone that goes into the ocean just needs to go into a meditation state. I would have loved to learn breathing methods when I was a kid or when I was playing football or as a firefighter, but it was only until I started pushing my own boundaries in the surf that a whole new world opened for me. Beathing changes the way you feel.

surfing action photo by Russell Ord

Q: Are there any other genres that you’d like to experiment with?

Russell Ord: I just set up a studio in my gallery. There’s a lot of lights here. I’ve been playing around with settings. It’s quite technical. It’s more technical than the surf side of things.

I’d love to do a little bit of studio photography and get better skills with my artificial lighting.

I’d probably just keep it to freediving photography underneath the surface. I’ve got a few shots, but it’d be amazing to get a couple of underwater images of manta rays or whales. I need to start travelling to tranquil oceans.


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Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.

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