Christian Mcleod is a surf/adventure/travel and lifestyle photographer. Moving to in Sligo, Ireland in an early age meant getting into cold water surfing and eventually starting to photograph the ocean.
How does surf photography differ from life/travel/landscape photography?
Surf photography is a funny photographic genre as it incorporates so much of travel, life, and landscape photography. It’s one of the only genres where the photographer is almost required to have pretty much the full range of lenses, from 8mm to 600mm… I suppose the aim is to convey a sense of adventure while also showing the action involved. Surfing is reliant on nature, so that also another key element that’s considered, whereas it may not be considered in travel or life images. I would say it’s a balance of all three.
Was the step from surfing to photography clear? How did it happen? How long before you started to work for companies and magazines?
It was a coincidence really. I was studying engineering, and in my second year I started to get a little bored in my free time and grabbed a camera that was lying in my room. I took it to college every day, and eventually it came with me to the beach everyday, and it progressed from there.
After the first year, I remember the point I took a photo, showed it to a friend and he mentioned I should send it to an Irish magazine Tonnta. I did that, and 2 weeks later it was a double page spread, and I was hooked. The work for companies came much later and has only really been the past year and a half.
What’s the most challenging when capturing a surfer in action?
The weather for sure. Be it the rain. Or snow, or hail, or wind, or waves, all of it has hinder getting the shot. Being in it all day everyday has allowed me to figure out little tricks though which is all part of the game.
I know the conditions in Ireland can be pretty challenging, just how testing is it to work when it’s really heavy swell?
Pretty challenging. I wouldn’t say the swell has the biggest affect on my ability to shoot, but more so the cold and wet weather, as it’s physically testing, both for myself and my equipment.
What is the most appealing about ocean/landscape/life/travel photography?
Definitely spending time in nature, and getting to experience different cultures. Like right now I am travelling through the Highlands of Scotland writing this and trying to find the Loch Ness Monster.
What’s the best with Ireland?
The waves. Definitely in the top 10 of the world.
Could you tell me a bit about the most beautiful or most rememberable places you’ve shot in?
Wow, I’d have to say, Iceland, Norway, Italy, all of these places have been amazing.
Do you have a clear image in your mind of how you want the photo to be or is it circumstantial depending on the moment? Do you look for a special quality or search for a perfect location already knowing what you want when you’re working?
Spontaneity is my friend. I have full trust in my ability to capture an image when I am travelling. I guess it’s a natural thing. I don’t plan images before I even see a place, I have to move around and experience the landscape before either can make an image worth seeing.
What are you working on right now? Future plans or dream destinations to shoot?
Right now, Scotland, end of the week, Ireland.
Two large project I am looking forward to are next year, in Australia and Fiji. Also south America. So it’s going to be a fun year.
I don’t have any dream destinations but the Philippines sounds appealing…