Surf Photography Series: Carys Griffiths

Ella
11th August 2020

The sea is both unpredictable and ever changing- and that's what makes it so magical. Surfers often describe this unique sport as an unrivalled experience and something that brings you closer to nature and the elements. The feeling of salt water on your skin, the nature of waves- it's a fickle environment to try and capture. And that's exactly why it creates such incredibly sensory images. Surf photography combines both the beauty of the ocean, and the skill and elegance of surfing. We spoke to three surf photographers who capture amazing moments on some of the UK's most beautiful beaches. 

Carys Griffiths is based in South Wales and has been photographing the waves for the last 5 years.  

Can you talk about your background and how you got into surf photography?

Coming from an artistic background, I was never going to be an academic or tied to a 9-5. My Dad is an Architect, my Mum is a Glass Artist and my brother is a Fine Artist so good design and colour were always large features in our household. I got into film photography in my teens, my Dad gave me an Olympus OM-2 and I fell in love with the process, particularly black and white photography. I did an AS level in photography in College and loved the developing process - I was a bit of a dark soul and felt that the darkroom suited my character at the time! I am, and was interested in so many things, I wasn't sure where I should concentrate my aspirations on, but I wanted to be an artist, a fashion designer and a photographer. After studying Theatre Design in Royal Welsh College in Cardiff, and doing a short course in pattern making in Central Saint Martins, my photography stayed a hobby for a while and I concentrated on clothing design, construction and the world of theatre, TV and film for a few years. 

My partner bought me my first digital SLR in 2010 and although previously thinking that digital photography was sort of cheating, I fell in love with it quickly, and felt a new found love with photography! I first got into surf photography about 5 years ago and it's one genre that has stayed as a constant for more than 5 minutes. My mind flutters from interest to interest and I find it hard to concentrate on one thing and stick with it, which shows that I really do love photographing the water, surfers and the shapes and forms water makes. Growing up in Swansea, specifically near the beach, has had an impact on my love for the ocean and water in general. I'm a fire sign, so I think I gravitate toward the opposite and need that balance it creates in order for my mind to calm down. I'm now leaning back toward film, instant and digital photography and I think I love it now more than ever. 

What is your creative process like, what camera do you use?
 

I'm currently using Sony a7rii with three lenses, 16-35mm, 50mm and 70-300mm. I also have my Sony a6000 as a back up, and I still have my OM-2 alongside an impressive collection of cameras - some are good finds and some are cheap 90's point and shoots. I love them all and can't seem to get rid of even the cheapest ones! I recently bought myself a Nikonos V, but I've only been out once with it so far! I love how compact and light the new Sony's are and they're great for any sports photography. As for my creative process, I like to shoot when the light is at its best, but when that's not possible, I like to crank up the exposure as much as I can to create bright and fresh images. Playing with light is one of my favourite aspects of photography - being in the water just makes it that much more challenging and rewarding at the same time. I guess surface water photography is possibly the closest you're going to get to film - sometimes, you don't know what you're going to get and you can be pleasantly surprised with the results, or completely disappointed! I use Lightroom as my editing software and I love it - great for getting your creative juices going after a shoot. 

Where are the most interesting places you've traveled to?
 

I'll admit, I've not really travelled as much as I've wanted to, but I have to say that Bulgaria was probably the most interesting. Seeing the clash between the generations in regards to the Russian influence from their socio-political history and the Western influence on the younger generations, and the urge to be free from the political ties to Russia was evident in my Bulgarian friends and the street art that popped up on nearly every street corner. The artistic talent in Bulgaria was influential to me and my time there will always stay in my mind. When I'm not drawn to the sea, I'm definitely drawn to the mountains. The other place which stays in my mind is Sri Lanka - I've been twice and I'm itching to go again. Warm water, good surf and good food. I want to travel the world, but my bank balance just keeps laughing at me, but my top list of places to go to shoot is Tahiti, Lofoten Islands, California and Iceland.

What are your tips for aspiring photographers?
 

Shoot as much as you can - practice until you feel that you can't learn anymore - then you'll find out that you're constantly evolving and you don't stop learning. The world of photography is deep and the hole seems to go on forever. There seems to be so much you can do these days, it can be so overwhelming especially with digital photography and photoshop, so find what sets you alight, and focus on that. You know you want something for real when you can't stop thinking about it and if you can't afford the best equipment, forget about it! You can take an amazing photo with the most basic of equipment - just practice with composition, what you love and play with light because after all, light is life! 

How can people find out more about your work? 


I have a website which is www.carysg.co.uk or you can follow me on social media, @darkroomtrip on instagram or @cazgriffphoto on facebook.