Devon through the lens: Will Reddaway

Devon-born pro photographer Will Reddaway loves “the sea, music, waves, taking great images – and my beautiful wife Heidi”. Being such an old romantic, and having a passion for people and surf, means that his work centres around photographing people out in pumping surf, on their wedding day or in beautiful locations. We spoke to Will about getting out in the water – amongst the waves and the surfers themselves.

Photo by Will Reddaway [WR Photography]

What inspired you to start photographing the surfing around Devon?
Photo by Will Reddaway [WR Photography]My life has revolved around the sea from since I was a child. My parents are both hugely into the ocean and watersports activities so from a young age had me and my brother in kayaks, out on boats and in the surf.

I’m a professional photographer and have been photographing weddings and commercial work for over eight years, and though I’ve been surfing since I was a teenager the surf photography’s only become a passion of mine in the past six years; I wanted to bring photography back to where it started, a hobby. I used to be out surfing and see these amazing moments go by just wishing I could capture them. Surfers are often out early mornings so we see some amazing light, that – paired with the beauty of the waves and the people riding them – just begs to be captured.  So I was toying with the idea of shooting surf photography for a while before I jumped and started.

Photo by Will Reddaway [WR Photography]

Photo by Will Reddaway [WR Photography]

Photo by Will Reddaway [WR Photography]

Photo by Will Reddaway [WR Photography]

How do you get such great images?
By getting out in the water, among the waves and the surfers themselves.
I very rarely shoot any surf photography from the land. I find the photos captured from in the water really show more of the energy, movement and extreme nature of surfing. Plus, swimming around in big surf is fun! Yes, you have to be careful, you have to be physically fit and you have to understand the waves, ocean and how currents work, but if you have all that – swimming out among the waves with nothing but your camera and some swim fins is such an incredible feeling.

On a practical level – I use a pro level DSLR inside a specialist surf photography water housing. This keeps my camera safe and dry but lets me have full control over the images I’m taking. Other than the camera in the housing, I don’t swim out with anything else except a pair of swim fins and a helmet.

Tell us about taking your favourite Devon surfing photo … where, when, how, why, who?
I’m not sure a have a favourite photo – but these are maybe some of the images I really like at the moment. Many are taken at Bantham beach, which is my local main surf break. A few other are taken at other locations around South Devon, which will remain unnamed as to keep the local surfers happy and the spots quieter.

One of my favorite surfers to shoot is my good friend Chris Birks [aka Birky], a local bodyboarder.  We often head out together so he ends up being photographed a lot by me. We know each other so well that I can predict how he’s going to ride the wave, and I trust him enough to let him get closer than I would a random surfer who I don’t know, which often means we make some awesome photos together.

But through photographing out in the water I have got to know so many great Devon surfers. I’m always amazed how many people paddle up to me, say hi and ask about what I am doing. We have a great surf scene in Devon, and the majority of the time everyone out in the water is super friendly.

Photo by Will Reddaway [WR Photography] Photo by Will Reddaway [WR Photography]

Why do you think we have so many photographers and creatives in Devon?
I think it’s down to the incredible place that Devon is. The scenery, be it coastline, moorland or amazing little villages, really inspire people’s creativity. I often catch myself bobbing around in the surf just in awe of the incredible creation around me – the awesome cliffs, stunning beaches and other coastal features.

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Tell us more about your photography.
The surf photography is mostly just for fun. I do sell the images I take, as many of the surfers rarely get good quality photographs of themselves surfing so are often eager to buy one or two, but for me the surf photography is just my way of being creative and enjoying the ocean.

The other side of my photography is my wedding and commercial photography business. This does sometimes spill into me working for clients (and wedding couples) in the water but the majority of my photography work is on dry land.

Being a Devon wedding photographer is amazing because we do have this incredible landscape full of stunning wedding venues. But also on the commercial photography side, I get to work with hugely creative businesses photographing their products, staff, premises, services and other aspects of their commercial venture.

Photo by Will Reddaway [WR Photography]

If there was one Devon event or place you would recommend budding photographers photograph what would it be?
I love Bantham beach. It’s my local haunt for photographing surf but it is always just a stunning bit of our Devon coastline. For photographers interested in surf photography it’s definitely a great place to check out, but also those into landscape photography will find it an equally beautiful spot to shoot.

What do you love about Devon?
I think it’s pretty obvious already – the coastline. I love how varied it is, how wild it can be but how tranquil and calm it can also be. Being brought up in Torbay and seeing the sea every day from my bedroom window meant I can spend hours at the beach watching the sea and how it’s behaving.