Cover Shot, August 2020

“You never realize how the pieces of your life are fitting together as it’s happening,” Zak Noyle observes in the introduction to “The Surfing Life” in this issue. “Then one day, you find yourself swimming through a world-class wave making photos of the world’s best surfers, and you take stock of how you got there.” For pros—and especially those who photograph sports like surfing—a passion for the subject is the foundation of success. Immersed in the lifestyle of the sport, photographers like Noyle make images that the passerby would miss, with authenticity that comes from being part of the community they document.

If you’re drawn to the genre, opportunities for adventure sports photography are likely readily available not far from where you are now. In “Local Adventure,” Tom Bol highlights four of the most accessible outdoor sports and recreation subjects to begin building your portfolio, with tips for technique and equipment selection, along with recommended locations.

Also in this issue, Gary Hart covers everything you need to know to photograph lightning, from precautions to recommended accessories and exposure settings. And Matt Stirn shares a personal story of how nature photography led to a deeper appreciation for his family home, a storied ranch on the edge of Grand Teton National Park. 

On the cover is a photograph by Zak Noyle taken in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii. Here’s the story behind the shot.

cover of the August 2020 issue of Outdoor Photographer

“Waikiki, the birthplace of surfing. The waters seen in this image are where it all began for the now-global sport. When flying into Oahu, planes take a path right over the waters of Waikiki, giving the glimpse of the surf below. These reefs have played the part of learning grounds for many surfers, including Duke Kahanamoku, an internationally known waterman who won five Olympic medals for swimming, including three gold medals, and played a major role in the popularization of surfing in the early 1900s.

“Growing up in Hawaii, my entire childhood revolved around the water, and the ocean has been a constant backdrop for my happiest memories. These days, I get to travel the world, seeing beautiful places and exploring the bond that the ocean creates between people—connections that served as my springboard into the world of professional surf photography. For me, photography isn’t just about “getting the shot.” It can be used to inspire and educate people and help raise awareness of the importance of protecting our oceans.

“This image was taken aboard a helicopter while flying over Waikiki. The reef is what makes the waves break, and you can see here how shallow it is. These surfers are sitting on their boards waiting for the next set of waves to come through to ride together. The colors and the light really make this image feel special, a moment stopped in time and a “board meeting” of sorts—done Hawaiian style.”

–Zak Noyle

The August 2020 issue is now available in a variety of digital formats including Apple News+.

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