On his path to becoming an internationally acclaimed photographer, Russell Ord has squinted down the lens at an intriguing mix of subjects over the years. He’s shot magazine covers of world-class surfers and helped deify celebrity chefs. He’s roamed with Uunguu Rangers in the Australian outback, island-hopped across tropical fantasylands and followed his photographic instincts through urban meccas. Meanwhile, his ocean images are celebrated for simultaneously implying the cruelty and majesty of the sea.
As one of the world’s leading surf photographers, Russ’s unique talents culminated in his documentation of a violent twist of Indian Ocean known simply as ‘The Right’. In pursuit of a unique, career-defining angle, Russ put himself in a situation where the ocean’s most powerful forces converge. The hard-won image served as the focal point for his celebrated documentary, ‘One Shot’.
While he remains a passionate and astute chronicler of the ocean’s moods, Russ suggests that evolving and diversifying is the key to a long and stimulating photographic career. “I realised very quickly if I wanted to keep working as a photographer I would have to develop other skills. Most of my work now revolves around capturing people’s stories, along with tourism and brand work.”
While professionally driven, Russ is very much the type of person who thrives on the opportunity to share his extensive knowledge. “It just about works in reverse,” he states. “By sharing my experience/knowledge, it inspires me to pick up the camera and shoot for the enjoyment. Watching someone develop a new skill and how ecstatic they are when the shot works out serves as a true reminder of why I started photography in the first place.”
Russ’s diverse range of experience, superior technical knowledge and gregarious nature mean he is uniquely placed to act as a mentor to other photographers. Time with Russ is not simply a tutorial; it’s a rollicking experience that ensures you come away both entertained and educated.
Project : “Life Around The Sea”
If your expecting a very technical review on the new FUJIFILM GFX100S stop reading right now and head over to the many photographic websites to get all the facts and figures. I like to get a new camera in hand and use it in my everyday work, from surf/lifestyle photography to documenting people’s stories.
I have now had the GFX100S for the last three weeks, taken it in environments that would certainly test the camera’s capabilities. I am going to focus on the specific features/functions that were important to me and my work at each particular shoot.
The Project: Life Around The Sea, to document peoples lives that revolve around the Western Australia coastline from all walks of life. Surfers, Fisherman, Marine Biologists, Remote Communities, Families etc. The aim is to bring awareness and encourage social and environmental change through imagery for organizations such as One Blue Ocean.
Documenting Ocean Grown Abalone (OGA): Who has developed the world’s first commercial greenlip abalone sea ranching facility. OGA build their our own artificial abalone reefs (called abitats) in the pristine waters of Flinders Bay, Augusta. The GFX100S weather-sealed body makes this camera especially suitable for location work and shooting in challenging conditions such as this one. All-day on the ocean on a working abalone boat, light rain at times; however, always plenty of strong winds combined with ocean spray was a great test. I pleased to announce the camera passed with flying colours and gives me plenty of confidence for further shoots around the ocean (a considerable part of my work).
Shanan Worrall, Sharkeyes. Shark Eyes is a visual shark deterrent, designed and used by the most experienced watermen in Australian waters. Shark Eyes has also been endorsed by marine scientists, shark researchers, abalone divers, and professional water sports athletes. Shanan is the founder and known as an all-around waterman. Not sure how they can pack so many features into this little pocket battleship, and I love the size of the camera for a few reasons. Firstly with this photoshoot, the camera is so unintrusive. The subject (Shanan) is not overwhelmed when you pull the camera out of the bag and goes on about his normal everyday business, making the images natural real-life documentation. Secondly, I have recently had major shoulder surgery; carrying around the 100s all day was not a problem. I can imagine that will also help when back traveling abroad. I am always running the gauntlet on excess baggage. (Every little bit of weight I can avoid helps in a big way, especially in the wallet department)
Rough Seas, This is my own life around the sea, capturing the beautiful elements of the sea, waves, motion, rawness, rough seas and beautiful light. Now there is a few standout camera features for me regarding this work.
1: The powerful in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system, allows me to capture motion handheld from a boat / jetski where it’s impossible to use a tripod for this type of work. This opens up so many more possibilities in low light situations, and I can take advantage of various circumstances before sunrise.
2: Focus, bouncing around the ocean shooting from a jetski (dont drop the camera) the focus is extremely quick. There is nothing worse when waiting hours for a particular moment and then the camera hunts for the shot and missing that moment that may never happen again (every wave is different). I am delighted with how responsive the camera in such difficult conditions.
3: Quality, now when I say quality, this can mean so much with this camera but in this case it’s being able to print to life-size. Bringing incredible detail into my finished works that represent how I see the sea has been my dream, I printed an image for a client to two meters recently and now that gives raw ocean power scale and brings it to life – unsurpassed image quality, details do matter.
I am going to finish with a couple of special mention features that I love about the camera while working on the project.
Colour – Beautiful colour tones that represents true to life images, I am not big on sitting in front of the computer editing and manipulating images and love the in-camera colours and film simulations.
Background separation (Bokeh) – Combined with the GF lenses, the images achieve outstanding background separation which is perfect documenting peoples life around the sea, a very beautiful, elegant look and feel.