There’s surf photography, and then there’s Karl Lundholm‘s photographs. The Swedish photographer somehow incorporates the sport of surfing into his underwater photography to come up with what feels like a whole new genre of image-making that will leave you asking, “how’d he do that?”
Lundholm isn’t so much just a surf photographer as much as he’s a whiz at color, composition, and being in the right place at the right time. After everyone in the ImageBrief office had time to pick up their jaws after seeing his images, I caught up with Karl over email to talk about some of his secrets to the trade.
Being from Sweden, how’d you develop your love for surf and underwater photography? Isn’t it too cold in Sweden?
“I was born and raised on the west coast of Sweden and have always enjoyed being close to the water and I think that’s where my passion for photographing in and under the water is coming from. In March, 2014 my girlfriend and I decided to do something else, so we decided to move to Australia for a year and it was here I took my camera into the ocean for the first time. Everywhere you go in Australia there is surfers so it was natural to shoot them while I was in the water.”
What are some tips you’d give someone looking to start trying underwater photography?
- First you must have something to protect your camera from the water. I use a “drysuit” for my camera. It’s a soft latex house from a company called Outex. It’s relatively cheap and best of all, it’s super light so it is perfect when you travel.
- Depending on where you are, you will have to protect yourself from the cold ocean or the hot sun with something, I use a wetsuit or a rash-guard.
- Fins! I never go out in the water without my fins. They will help you move around in the ocean, especially when you have a camera in your hands these fellas will be your best friend.
- After shooting you probably want to edit your photos, being under water does strange things to light and color, to fix this I use Adobe Lightroom.
- Last tip will be to have respect for the ocean it is a beautiful place but also could be very dangerous.
How do you get the color in all of your images?
“First off, I shoot in RAW, which gives me more room to play with when I do my edits. When it comes to the color, I do all my color correction in Adobe Lightroom. I love using VSCO, which simulates old camera film and it’s a good start to the edit to get the feel that I’m looking for.”
What’s your approach to surf photography? You seem to have a very unconventional style when it comes to capturing the action, where the surfer isn’t taking up the majority of the shot. It seems to be more about the ocean as a landscape. Could you explain a bit more about how you arrived at this style?
“I don’t think I see surfing as a sport when I’m shooting, rather a complement to the beautiful environment that they are in. When I go out in the water I always try to find new and interesting way of looking at the ocean, surfing, and everything around it.”
Would you mind sharing the story behind some of your images?
“This is one of my favorite shots. Its taken at Cloud 9, a surf spot on a small island called Siargao in the Philippines. This surfer is duck diving under an incoming wave and I happened to be right under him. This was at the golden hour so the warm light is breaking through the surface and creates the magic.”
“Sunset underwater outside Siargao Island in the Philippines. It’s easy to just focus on the surfers when you are out in waves so now and then it’s nice to just look for something else to photograph and this is one of those photos.”
“Blue hour in Burleigh Head, Queensland, Australia. The sun has just set and the warm light is gone and left is a landscape of blue colors. I always try to stay out until there is no one left in the water. In this photo there is just me and one other surfer who is waiting for the last wave and I was lucky to get this shot. It’s all about waiting for the perfect moment.”
“Siargao Island, Philippines. After a motorcycle trip around the island, I had to stop and capture this incoming storm. The sky was so dramatic and just minutes after this was taken the storm hit.”
“Burleigh Heads, Queensland, Australia. This was before I had any underwater gear for my camera so I had to go as close as I could to capture the surfers. At the time of this shot, there was a storm that was about to hit, so the sky behind the surfer is really dramatic and converting this to black & white I think makes it even more dramatic.”