Dan Hunter - surfer and photographer
Keeping it local with surfer and photographer Dan Hunter
The environment and people around us are a constant source of inspiration and without a doubt, our south coast home gives us access to beautiful places and a wealth of local creative talent. Collaborating with people who really get the Animal mindset is what matters, and this season we have come together with surfer and photographer Dan Hunter to create a capsule t-shirt collection, featuring his breathtaking images.
We caught up with Dan to find out more about how his surfing days have influenced his work behind the lens.
Tell us how you first got into photography?
I got into photography by default, I spent nearly 15 years travelling the world as a surfer to places like Indo, Hawaii and Australia, as well as closer to home in Europe. I just always had a camera with me to take general “happy snaps” of the waves, but in the last few years I really decided to concentrate on what I was capturing with a view to making images that would last.
That led me to paying more attention to how I needed to control the camera to achieve the kind of shots I wanted. With water photography you are shooting in a highly dynamic environment—an environment that changes literally from one second to the next. It means you kind of need to know how to set your camera up so that you can capture what you want.
If you’ve made the effort to swim out, you don’t want to miss that perfect shot.
Were you drawn to capturing surfing imagery straightaway, or was it something that came about as you honed your photography skills?
As a surfer you get to see some incredible scenes and beautiful aspects of nature whilst you are out in the ocean so of course I wanted to take surfing imagery. I gradually became more confident photographing in the water and in what I could achieve artistically. This allowed me to focus a little more away from the mainstream surf shots you generally see and I now try to capture the smaller details of life amongst the swell.
For me, encapsulating the mood and atmosphere of a scene is what matters, because that is what the ocean gives us—moods, experiences and a whole lot of atmosphere. It’s a special place, as surfers I sometimes think we take it for granted just how lucky we are to be out in it.
Image: Dan Hunter x Animal
Other than surfing, what do you like to point your camera at?
I like to take shots of everything really, I love the quirky and odd—little moments that you might miss if you weren’t paying attention, the things most people don’t spot. And of course I love capturing images of my wife and kids, I know that in years to come I’ll have some lasting memories of the epic trips and milestone moments that are important.
Have you got any particular source of inspiration?
Mickey Smith is without doubt someone I have always followed and admired, it may have helped that a lot of the epic photos he took were of personal friends of mine, but there is no denying that he is a true natural talent when it comes to capturing images. He has an awesome eye for a shot and he did it the hard way back in the day—pioneering spots and capturing some amazing photos in analogue. He was all about photographing the whole lifestyle that real surfing involves (not just in the water scene breakers) and that’s been a big influence on me.
I’m also a fan of Alex Frings (Australia) and Damea Dorsey (Bali), as well as all the old guard of course—Grambeau, Davey and Noyle.
Can you give us some background detail to the shots that feature in the new Animal Collection, what do you remember from the session?
The barrel shot that features on the Chill graphic tee I remember well, it was midwinter and the swell was great, really consistent. I was shooting a good friend, Clive Stopper, out on a wave located on the Jurassic Coast, this set came in and I was sort of inside but the thing hit that ledge that’s out there, so I just stuck my camera up and started shooting! It’s a good view and one you’d rarely see from that location as most people surf the right.
Chill graphic tee: £25; Image: Dan Hunter x Animal
After that I swam over to the right and captured the second image that you can see on the Mist tee. I was shooting fisheye, which isn’t ideal for the right as it’s a really long wave, but I managed to get into a position that afforded a shot and I’m stoked I caught my friend (Aaron Strong) just before he pulled in.
The second set of shots were taken during a real nice run of easterly swell and offshore winds that thankfully accompanied some sunny weather.
How do you feel about collaborating with Animal on this?
I’m really stoked about working with Animal - honoured in fact and thank you guys for getting behind local surfers and shooters in these collaborations. I hope other people will appreciate the support too. I saw the tees that Gary Knights did for AW15 and they looked sick so I was definitely in for pairing up—my only question—can I get some in sizes for the kids?!
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