Light is everything in photography.
No amount of technical expertise, artistic composition, creative use of shutter speed or unique angles will ever substitute for a perfectly lit subject. But combine these all together and you have a recipe for some really special images.
If these are the ingredients, Nick Murray is a master chef. He spends sunrise and sunset capturing his own unique view of the curves and lines of ocean waves in some of the most spectacular light you are likely to see.
If you are not the type of person that wakes up early to jump in the ocean at sunrise, Nicks imagery is a window into a world you never knew existed. And even if you are not a photographer, the photos you are about to discover should be more than enough to inspire you to set that alarm clock just a little earlier tomorrow morning, simply to go out and have a look.
The finishing words in the interview below are possibly my favourite quote from all the interviews I’ve done so i’ll pre-peat them here so they don’t get missed.
“Passion and great ideas are just that, and nothing more, until we take the risk and go for it”
If you’ve followed my work long enough, you know how much I love a good motivational or mindset quote.
These words, combined with the fact that he referenced his wife Vanessa as his main inspiration along his journey, show what truely good and inspiring dude he is.
Combine that with Nick’s epic photography and you’ve just found yourself a great new person to follow!
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Was photography always the plan or what first made you pick up a camera?
Actually no, I have a degree in recording engineering and I pursued studio career working as an Audio engineer. It evolved from there into an Audio/Visual engineer to becoming project manager while living in south Florida. Photography for me started young and has always been a passion. I’ve always had a creative and artistic mindset. In the beginning it was never something intended as a professional career or shooting commercially. It was more of a way to document trips, moments and capture the ocean. I grew up right by the ocean and surfing every day at a young age so I have always been keen with the ocean and chasing swells down looking for surf. It’s where I spent most of my time. It grew from surfing everyday to being obsessed with waves, the beauty of the ocean, and that perfect peeling wave image I would have stuck in the back of my mind. Being young, self taught, and real eager to chase the swells down it became more impulsive than trying to think about perfecting the craft and technique at the time. Every morning as a kid the passion of being in the water at daybreak and sunrise was always the place I wanted to be.
What does your photographic life currently look like? Are you shooting professionally, and what does that involve for you?
Currently I’m shooting professionally. Whether it’s between projects for contract/hire or working on my own imagery for exhibits and shows. I’m currently doing a project for an upcoming apparel collaboration project doing an ocean/surf and art series featuring my images which has been a lot of fun and allows me to get really creative with the design team.
First and last light colouring is very prominent in your images. Do you have a certain way you want to portray the ocean and are you pre-visualising certain images you want to capture or more adapting your style to the conditions that are presented?
Great questions! I’m usually in the water right before first light starts to show. Its one of my favorite times to be within the elements. We are blessed with some amazing sunrises on the East coast of Florida. The skies go through some beautiful color gradients. I have made it a habit of trying to capture a lot of those explosive colors that happen during those moments. The same goes for last light as well. I spend a lot of sunsets in the water at home and it’s such a beautiful time I try shoot as much as possible during both these times of day. As far as pre-visualizing certain images goes, I usually do have a preliminary thought on the images I’m looking for. More often than not I will be sitting out in the lineup and just watching the ocean move, looking for that creative positioning. Depending on swell direction and light exposure to the water I’ll snap a few different frames. Then, just overall using the experience from being in the water to help with composition for an image I might have been thinking of in my head prior to a session. I get creative trying to give the viewer a perspective of the ocean they might never thought possible. As any ocean/surf photographer will tell you everyday is different and unique at the start. You could have many ideas of images to emulate or capture before entering the water but until first glance at what presents itself regarding conditions we are all at the mercy of mother nature and what she has in store. Even with a preset thought or idea of an image it still takes some form of adaptation to the elements. The way each session varies, it leaves plenty of ways to express a certain image and it’s what keeps me inspired by the uniqueness of an individual capture.
How often are you shooting? Are you waiting for certain conditions you know will work or will you just go anyway to see what happens?
As much as possible. Just to stay consistently shooting and getting in the water as much as I can. Conditions are always a factor, Its’s always nice to score some clean and solid conditions, but for myself I have found that shooting in some more unfavorable conditions has lead me to creating some more powerful imagery. If your always holding out for the perfect setting it might be a while before actually getting in the water to create.
What’s the ocean photography community like in Florida? Is there lots of people doing it these days? Any particular people helped out along your journey?
The ocean photography community here in Florida is definitely stacked. There is a big pool of talented artists throughout the East coast region of Florida. The talent within the community is really noticeable up front with the likes of Sam Farkas, Connor Cornell, Adam King & Evan Hilton. So many more I could add on the list as well. All these guys are such good ocean and surf photographers. Always raising the bar! The main credit with help goes out to my other half Vanessa and my family. She has always been a huge creative force for me. She’s the reason why I have been pushing myself to better my craft. She’s such an inspiring human being. Saving lives as a nurse on the Neurological floor at our local hospital all while continuing her quest to become Nurse practitioner. Not only does she inspire me daily, but push me as an artist, she’s such an amazing mom to our three sons. Without my family and support I wouldn’t be as inspired to push the level of photography.
With high shutter speeds and the fleeting moments of detail you capture I imagine you could have a tonne of great images when you come in from a good session. What are the elements needed in an image for you to pick it from the bunch and publish it?
I’m a such harsh critic of my work and its probably just from having a perfectionist mindset. Even when others have told me that certain images are top to them, still in the back of my mind I might have a different thought of the image that might not make it print worthy or want to publish it in my eyes. Details are a key factor, composition is big for me as well. Most of all I would say the uniqueness of the individual image. I want to show images of the ocean at times that most never see.
What’s the next 12 months have in store for your photography wise
Shooting as much as I can. More exhibits and shows along the way as well. I’m super excited to work on more projects and collaborations that are coming in the next months. Have a few trips to work on as well for some new projects. Overall looking forward to traveling and getting as much time in the water as possible.
If you were given a round the world plane ticket to go and shoot 3 surf breaks, where would you go?
Wow that’s such a tough call to narrow it down to 3 . Tahiti is top of the list. Been wanting to go New Zealand for sometime. Also definitely would love to do some slab hunts in Australia too.
Any other parting advice for aspiring surf and wave photographers?
Simple advice I would give to another is believe in yourself! Find the creative way to portray you and what you want the viewer to feel from your image. Come with originality. Also, very important to me is patience. Patience will help you find that way to better your craft. It’s easy to get all amped up before a session when the conditions are pumping and you could barrel the shutter the entire time. Search for your composition. Don’t worry if you walk in from a session feeling you only got a few keepers. Learn and be mindful! The greatest advice I would give is don’t be afraid to take risks. Passion and great ideas and are just that, nothing more until we take the risk and go for it.
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