Jen Buck

I could not be more excited for this one!

I kinda hope you haven’t heard of Jen Buck because then this makes it even more of an honour to introduce you to this truely incredible photographer. 

Jen has been at the top of my list of favourite photographers for the past couple of years now since the fortunate day one of her amazing images appeared in my instagram explore feed.

In a time when social media often gets vilified, my discovery of Jen and her work is the epitome of why i think it’s great.

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting up with Jen on the North Shore of Hawaii last year when we were both there around the time of the Pipe Masters and she is as friendly and humble as her images are breathtaking.

Her collection of work is an artistic, surfing dreamscape which will have you saying “Wow” or more likely “Holy Sh*t” out loud as you scroll through her feed.

A self proclaimed perfectionist, Jen’s work is the result of a true artistic mind, looking through a viewfinder and showing us a vision of the world that only she can see. 

But one that we are more than grateful to view.

Please meet Jen Buck…

heavenly moments - north shore, hawaii

heavenly moments - north shore, hawaii


I was born on the east coast of the US in Connecticut, I went to college in Colorado and lived there for 10 years before moving to California over 10 years ago.  I’m currently in Santa Barbara, California.

sand dune dreams

sand dune dreams

Was photography always the plan or how did you get into it?

Since I was a child I’ve always loved being creative. I tried different mediums of art and crafts but it wasn’t until I planned a 6 week trip to the Himalaya mountains when I was 18 that I decided to buy my first camera. I loved documenting my experiences and how I saw the world. I continued to shoot my adventures from then on.

Your images have a uniquely dreamlike, meditative quality. Where did this style develop from and do you have an interest in other artistic mediums be it painting, music etc that create this same feeling?

It took some time to develop my style. I shot film for a long time before switching to digital photography. It wasn’t until I switched to digital that I was really able to develop my style and portray my vision easier, mostly through in camera techniques and post processing. I often study the work of painters and different types of photography genres for inspiration. 

strong winds and big swell - north shore, hawaii

strong winds and big swell - north shore, hawaii

You clearly have a love of adventurous pursuits. Are you planning images in advance that you envision capturing or are there many moments that just occur during an experience that you react to and shoot?

It’s a lot of both actually, I love exploring remote and new places that I’ve never been to. I do a lot of research before I go which helps immensely but it is unfamiliar terrain and I’m only in one location for a short amount of time so on trips like these, I try to scout midday and return to the locations that I like during good lighting. I also travel with non photographers often and we can be constantly on the move with no time to scout or go back during nice lighting, and in this scenario I just have to capture what the moment presents. I think my most successful shoots occur when I have a vision of an image I’d like to create, then I seek out places that have the right scenery, compositions and lighting.

evening views from the water

evening views from the water

I always imagine with a collection of work as incredible as yours, and the locations you have shot in, there must be images that most people only dream of that never make it off the hard drive. How critical are you of your work for images to see the light of day?

Thank you, I really appreciate that. It’s funny you ask that question. I show a ridiculously small amount of what I actually shoot. My husband and friends think I’m being absurd on how critical I am of my work. It’s kind of become a running joke in my house. I can be a perfectionist when it comes to my photography and at times I can actually frustrate myself on how picky I can be. But, I really do think it’s important to be critical and to show only your best work, I don’t think I’d be satisfied with showing anything less.

How does social media play into your photography?  Is it inspiring to have access to see so many more photographers work? Do you feel any pressure to create new work due to the somewhat disposable nature of image consumption that now exists?

The only social media that I’m involved with is Instagram. I love sharing my work with others on this platform and connecting with other photographers. There’s so much talent out there that I find it very inspiring. I’m also very impressed by how some of the most talented photographers can produce excellent work very consistently. That’s something I’m working on improving with myself. I still have so much to learn and I do put pressure on myself to be constantly learning and improving. 

winter chill

winter chill

Do you have a favourite location you have shot or even specific session you remember shooting?

I have one location near where I live that I love to swim with my camera and water housing, it’s a quiet, peaceful beach with no one around except a couple of surfers here and there, I try to capture ocean abstracts here as well as interesting wave shots.  I shoot some mountain and desertscapes but my favorite locations to shoot are usually near or in the ocean, there’s something about the play of light on water and the power of the ocean that really captures my eye and draws me in to it. 

I’ve had quite a few memorable sessions while swimming with my camera but in particular stands out during a sunset swim one evening with my camera. I was alone in the water with my husband on the beach at sunset. There was a decent amount of swell in the water and I was trying to capture some barreling waves with the setting sun when, all of a sudden I noticed I was in a rip current and quite far from shore. At that moment of realization a large pod of seals were swimming under and all around me. There was one particular seal that kept popping it’s head up about 1 foot away from mine with it’s mouth wide open and big teeth in my face. I wasn’t too comfy with this one particular seal but in retrospect I think that they were being playful, but at the time I wasn’t sure if they were being territorial. Long story short I swam a ways parallel to shore to get out of the rip before attempting to swim back to shore. The seals stayed with me the whole time including the one showing me his teeth in my face. I tried to take pictures while swimming to calm my nerves which helped, but unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough to capture any of the seals. I made it back before it was totally dark and I was glad my fitness level was high because the whole experience was exhausting. When I got back to shore and looked back at the pod of seals a few of them almost looked disappointed I went in. It was a beautiful sunset and memorable experience.

winter morning mist

winter morning mist

Are there any places you would love go and photograph that you haven’t been to yet? 

I love to travel so I’m always researching new and interesting places to travel to. Right now I have my eye on a few places in South America and I’ve wanted to go to the arctic for some time now, so hopefully in the near future I can plan a trip there.

Do you have any specific goals photography career wise, or any exciting plans coming up in 2019?

My photography goals are to keep improving on my skills and to get really good at printmaking.

no caption - i’m literally speechless at this one

no caption - i’m literally speechless at this one

When will people see a Jen Buck website and be able to purchase prints of your images?

Soon for the website and I’m still honing my skills on printmaking so hopefully soon with that also.

Can you share any parting advice for aspiring surf / ocean photographers?

Shoot as often as you can. If you’re passionate about photography, work really really hard at it and develop a style that’s your own and then you’ll be able to produce unique, quality images that will stand out from the rest. But most importantly, have fun with it.

Dive into Jen’s world further here

Instagram: jenbuckphoto




snowy egrets flying home

snowy egrets flying home