F-Stop Blues

FIJI’S UN­CROWDED CO­RAL COAST HOSTS A SURF PHO­TOG­RA­PHY MAS­TER­CLASS.

Tracks - - Marti Paradisis - Words: Kirk Ow­ers Pho­tos: Rus­sell Ord

Surf pho­tog­ra­phers lead a pretty glam­ourous life. They live like mod­ern-day gyp­sies, chas­ing epic swells around the globe and hang­ing with the world’s best surfers. Their pass­ports are lit­tered with ex­otic stamps, their In­sta­gram ac­counts heavy with en­gaged fol­low­ers and they seem to have con­nec­tions wher­ever they go. If they’re good – and they must be – their care­fully com­posed pho­to­graphs tell beau­ti­ful lies. They don’t show the close­outs, the rips, the rub­bish or the crowds. They only show par­adise. There’s magic in cap­tur­ing per­fec­tion in a plas­tic box but to suc­ceed you need more than tech­ni­cal chops and an artis­tic eye.

Rus­sell Ord has been in the game for a good while now. The Mar­garet River-based shooter has made his name via the hard­est route pos­si­ble - by be­com­ing the first hu­man to shoot in­side the bar­rel at The Right. That one pho­to­graph

of Mark Mathews (Tracks cover, is­sue 540) was the re­sult of years of train­ing and plan­ning. Shoot­ing with a fish-eye lens in threat­en­ing surf is what Ord is best known for, but he does it all: life­style, ed­i­to­rial, com­mer­cial, fash­ion, wed­dings. His most re­cent project is about shar­ing knowl­edge and nur­tur­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of surf pho­tog­ra­phers via the Vagabond pho­to­graphic col­lec­tive.

In­stead of do­ing a work­shop in a big ster­ile city Rus­sell de­cided it would be a lot more awe­some to take stu­dents to trop­i­cal Fiji for an im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence with pro surfers and pump­ing waves. Vagabond lined up three bud­ding pho­tog­ra­phers and two pro surfers, Chippa Wil­son and Asher Wales, and booked them all into Matanivusi, a bril­liant eco surf re­sort on Fiji’s Co­ral Coast. A mag­i­cal swell ar­rived right on cue and the Fi­jian branch of Rus­sel Ord school of surf pho­tog­ra­phy was of­fi­cially un­der way.

Chippa Wil­son drag­ging a hand through a Fi­jian kalei­do­scope..

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