A group of surfboards leaning against a wall.

28 Best Surf Photographers in 2023 to Follow

Ride the visual swell with our list of the best surf photographers, whose work encapsulates the dynamic spirit and drama of the surf scene.

Here’s a list of the best surf photographers from around the world.

Living near the Gold Coast in Australia, I grew up surfing almost every day.

As a photographer, taking photos of surfers was a natural progression.

Over the years, I’ve discovered many amazing local surf photographers and even more overseas via Instagram.

Surf photography will always be a passion of mine, but the surf photographers I’ve included in this guide take surf photos to new levels.

So, whether you enjoy water photography, surf culture, or just love watching surfers ride huge barrels, this list is for you.

28 Best Surf Photographers in 2023

Aaron Chang


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Aaron Chang is one of the surf photographers who is a lover of life and the ocean.

Apart from surf photography, he captures the beauty of sunsets and how they complement the ocean scene.

He also does philanthropic work in conserving the environment and preserving the ocean.

Ben Thouard


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Ben Thouard has his eyes fixed on the waves. His works include the majestic beauty of the ocean and how they can be calm and strong simultaneously.

His shots magically reflect the glory of the sky and prove that the ocean has its life and humans are only caretakers.

Chris Burkard


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As long as Chris Burkard has his camera with him, he will travel and capture the natural beauty of the world.

His photographic skills give justice to the complexity of the earth, its elements, and how all these meet the waves.

Christa Funk


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Christa Joy Funk is one of the world’s leading surf photographers capturing the surfers and the waves and of how people depend on them for survival.

Her work captures the vastness of the ocean and how its color changes.

Clark Little


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Amazing how Clark Little enjoys how he becomes one with the waves.

He stands face-to-face with the waves, waiting for the perfect moment, in a split second, be eaten up and tossed inside the cycle of waves like a washing machine.

Don King


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Don King is among the top 10 best surf photographers famous for his cinematic images.

Since he already knew the surf culture, he was successful in publishing his works in magazines and even working with celebrities such as James Bond and Tom Hanks.

Ed Sloane

Ed Sloane works with editorial, advertising, and wedding photography, but surf photography is at the top of his mind.

He is considered one of the best surf photographers with his amazing images shot during different times of the day.

Ha’a Keaulana


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Surfing runs in Ha’a Keaulana’s blood, growing up extremely immersed in the culture, belonging to a surfing family from Hawaii.

As a water woman, she is intimately connected with the sea. The coast is her home.

One of her recent works is photographing celebrity Bretman Rock for his book promotion.

Joni Sternbach


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Joni Sternbach started his career as a surf photographer in 2006, and this photo is the same photo that brought him to four continents.

He uses a wet plate collodion process in his photography, producing nostalgic quality images.

LeRoy Grannis

A man riding a surfboard on a wave.

Image Credit: MB Photo

Leroy “Granny” Grannis was one of the most influential surf photographers for his photographs of the Califonia surfing scene in the ’60s to ’70s.

Granny founded the International Surf Magazine, now called the Surf Magazine.

He had the opportunity to work with the surf legend Dewey Weber, where his photo was turned into a bronze statue.

Lucia Griggi


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Lucia Griggi is one of the highly-regarded surf photographers who has traveled the world, capturing the beauty of the surfing world and other amazing outdoor activities.

She is considered one of the best surf photographers who portray the connection between surfers and the sea.

Luki O’Keefe


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Luki O’Keefe started surfing before photographing fellow surfers.

Her photos fully capture the surf culture and mostly women surfers.

During the pandemic, Luki adjusted her rates to reach out to small business owners in Southern California to help them with their content.

Mickey Smith


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Mickey Smith is a surf photographer and filmmaker.

One of his notable works is “Dark Side of the Lens,” where he reflects on his life as a surf photographer.

Morgan Maassen


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Morgan Maassen already has a legendary status as a surf photographer.

Timing is everything, as you may either catch or lose that one shot to capture the splendor of the waves, and Maassen makes sure he tells stories and makes the seascape feel alive.

Ronan Gladu


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Ronan Gladu made a name for himself, being able to shoot with famous brands such as Red Bull and Kanabeach.

Gladu is also a boat racer and is a member of the press, where he works and covers surf events.

Russel Ord


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Russel Ord the CEO and Founder of Desert Light Foundation and is known for his dramatic images of big waves and surfing. His work, “The Right,” is an internationally recognized work of art.

Ryan Craig

Ryan Craig is one of the surf photographers who enjoys shooting anything.

People are the inspiration behind his works.

As a surf photographer, he notes how the ocean can be daunting and intimidating yet magnificent at the same time, and that he can’t give justice to its true beauty.

Sachi Cunningham


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Sachi Cunningham is overflowing with the courage to capture surfers as they choose to take on the big waves.

With her work, she desires to teach people the deeper meaning of the surf culture and to embrace the connection between surfers and the water.

Sarah Lee

Sarah Lee is an Asian-American surf photographer who shares her perspectives from underwater to aerial shots.

Her work shows the dynamic composition between surfers and the sea. Lee has reached the New York Times newspaper, showing her life behind the camera.

Stewart MacKellar

Stewart MacKellar is an established surf photographer who loves adventure, the ocean, and the environment.

Recently, Mackellar used his photos to raise funds for The Wave Project UK, which provides surf therapy for young people to help them reduce anxiety and increase resiliency.

Stuart Gibson


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Stuart Gibson is one of the respected surf photographers whose work captures the very heart of this culture.

His photos show how each brave surfer paves their way out from gigantic waves and how the sun rays kiss the ocean waves giving an impressive glittering picture.

Sylvain Cazenave

Sylvain Cazaneca is a French surf photographer who displays the natural elements of the ocean with so much grace.

He has mentioned that his life is dedicated to the surf. What an amazing dedication and passion for surfing!

Tahnei Roy


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Tahnei Roy is a Hawaii surf photographer who owns a freelancing business but continues to pursue her passion for capturing the ocean and folks enjoying it.

She got her love for the surf from his late father, who died doing the thing he loves – surfing.

Ted Grambeau


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Ted Grambeau is a highly respected photographer whose work is all about the waves, the surfers, and how they interplay with the light.

Some of his works include the abstract interaction of light with the sea floor, usually being captured before sunrise.

Thomas Campbell


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Thomas Campbell is a photographer and filmmaker involved in surfing and the skate culture.

With his artistic and creative style, he is always able to produce authentic images showcasing discovery and exploration.

Todd Glaser


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Todd Glaser is a San Diego-born surf photographer whose works are just spectacular.

A storyteller with an eye for detail, Glaser believes that the water always makes him a better person coming out.

Trent Mitchell


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Trent Mitchell is an Australian surf photographer who has been in the industry for more than 20 years now.

He has a deep love for capturing people, things, and places either in stillness or in motion.

Zak Noyle


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Zak Noyle’s stunning photos and sharp shots never cease to amaze people.

His work always shows the excitement of surfers as they ride their boards, and he never fails to capture the hearts of his audience and subjects, building deep friendships as they brave the waves together.

What Makes a Great Surf Photo?

As a surfer, when I look at a surf photograph, I’m not just seeing the surfer and a wave – I want to feel the moment, the energy, the spirit of the ride.

Here’s what makes a great surf photo from a surfer’s lens:

1. Capturing the Moment

A great surf photo isn’t just about the wave or the surfer; it’s about that split second in time where everything aligns – the wave’s curve, the surfer’s position, the play of light and shadow. It’s the anticipation of the drop, the thrill of a well-executed maneuver, or the sheer power of a breaking wave.

2. Emotion and Intensity

The best surf photos convey emotion. The sheer ecstasy of catching a perfect wave, the intensity in a surfer’s eyes, the adrenaline rush of a close call – all of these emotions tell a story that resonates with fellow surfers.

3. Perspective and Angle

The perspective from which the photo is taken can change the entire narrative. A bird’s-eye view, a shot from the shore, or an underwater perspective tells a different story. The angle can accentuate a wave’s height, the maneuver’s grace, or the ocean’s vastness.

4. Light and Color

The interplay of light, especially during sunrise or sunset, can add magic to a surf photograph. The way the sunlight pierces through the waves, creating silhouettes, or the rich colors of the sky reflected on the water’s surface can transform an ordinary shot into something ethereal.

5. Texture and Detail

The spray of the water, the froth of the breaking wave, or the ripples on a calm sea – these textures and details add depth and realism to a surf photo. They make you feel like you can almost touch the water, feel its coolness, and hear the roar of the waves.

6. Environment and Backdrop

Sometimes, it’s not just about the wave or the surfer. The stunning cliffs in the background, the palm trees on the shore, or the reflection of mountains on the water frame the shot and add to its allure.

7. Candid and Authenticity

Posed shots have their place, but there’s something raw and genuine about candid photos. The spontaneous laughter after a wipeout, the camaraderie among fellow surfers, or the quiet contemplation as one watches the horizon – these candid moments provide a genuine glimpse into the surf culture.

8. The Human Element

While the ocean’s majesty is undeniably mesmerizing, introducing a human element – whether it’s a surfer riding the waves, children playing on the shore, or spectators in awe – adds scale, contrast, and relatability.

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