Long before I started Seafoam, I had a passion for photography and videography. I dreamt of studying cinematography and making my own extreme sports films. Unfortunately the years passed too quickly as life unfolded and the dream was replaced with other ambitions. Luckily other dreams eventually materialised, Seafoam was created, but my love for photography still carries on...
I still envy those who can make a living of photography, or filming. With the rise of Instagram, the possibilities to showcase the work of these professionals have grown exponentially.
Not that long ago, I connected with the very talented Megan Hemsworth.
Based in Cornwall, she is quickly becoming a well known name in surf and lifestyle photography. I've been lucky enough to collaborate with Megan on a few of her recent trips and would love to introduce her to you with this Q&A, along with some of the photos she created for Seafoam.
Megan is also organising workshops, so you can learn some photography tricks from the best. Find dates and location at the end!
Megan ready to shoot. Photo by Nathan Benham
Megan, what inspired you to get into photography and when did you start shooting?Throughout school I loved any kind of creative subject. Fashion magazines first caught my attention to photography. I found the imagery so exciting and I was desperate to know how they were created. My favourites were the Roxy/ Billabong advertisement posters/look books/short fashion films. I used to get so excited to go to the Ann's Cottage shops just to see more of the images on the walls.
At 17 I started learning photography. In my last year of school I did my first underwater photo-shoot in my local pool. I had so much fun but didn’t realise this was something I would develop later at uni. I used to swim competitively, that's where my love for water came from.
Did you study photography in university?
I Studied Fashion Photography at Falmouth University and loved it! We were immersed into working with industry straightaway, because of this I have built strong skills and confidence in working as a freelance photographer. I came out of the 3 years with a carefully crafted and specialised body of work. I couldn’t wait to start freelance for real and find clients of my own.
Is photography your full-time job now?
My aim is to be fully self employed by 2020 however for now I hold a 2 day-a-week job working for the amazingly talented Mike Lacey, a big wave photographer down here in Cornwall.
Have you always been into water photography or do you have other specialties and/or preferences?
I started of just ticking boxes for school/Uni doing landscapes, portraits, studio fashion shoots but whenever the chance came for me to be creative I have always gravitated towards those initial images that sparked excitement. Surf Lifestyle! It's just great, I love shooting anything around the topic.
In water is definitely my favourite because I love showing my audience the magical moments I see when in the water.
However, I do love a dreamy sunset lifestyle shoot. Working with models at beautiful locations is just great fun, it's nice to have people to share those amazing moments with.
Do you surf yourself?
I have grown up living away from the beach and have only been able to practice my surfing in the summer holidays, until I finally moved here 5 years ago. So yes, I can surf (just not as elegantly as the guys/gals I photograph). The problem is I spend most of my time in the water with my camera, I really lack the ability to progress with my surfing because every chance I get I want my camera with me.
What do you think of apps like Instagram and its filters?
I have not got a single bad word to say about instagram it is singlehandedly my most important app for my freelance business. The filters... although I don’t use them I think they are great as an easy way for the public to try and elevate their own images.
What’s your favourite camera set up?
For in the water: 50mm F5.6 Aquatech Housing with a flat port.
For Land Lifestyle: 85mm F2.4
Always natural lighting and I love love love a sunset/sunrise
Do you still shoot analogue sometimes?
I do! Wahoo :)
I own a Nikonos which is the first underwater dive camera. The camera's ability to shoot surf is awesome and gives amazing effects. Nikonos has a fast movement on social media especially by an amazing Insta account @thenikonosproject.
Although I don't develop my own film (I learnt how to but I'm too impatient to do it myself) I love the personal feeling you get from only shooting a certain amount of frames. You have to think so much more about each shot you take.
What does a typical day as a photographer look like?
On a shoot day . . . well
When it comes to shooting surfing
- pack up my kit
- meet at the preplanned beach if the surf looks good , we hop in shoot for a few hours
- come home rinse my camera housing off, this prevents the metal from rusting
- upload my images, cull my favorite ones
- edit them
- send them on if completed that day
- ready for the next day
A lot of time is spent on promoting yourself though! Website updates, contacting clients, organising and emailing rates to people. And that all comes before the NETWORKING, I can’t stress enough how much I love and have to invest so much time into networking. Hands down one of the best things about this job is meeting new people.
When shooting abroad, what is something that you will always have in your luggage?
OOOOO um I would say sun cream, caps and discreet bags. General protection from the sun so important there is nothing worse than shooting in the heat all day and you're not being properly prepared. Caps are great as well for seeing through the view finder with no glare.
Discrete bags as a photographer are key, leaving bags as we all know is dodgy enough but abroad well I feel on edge all the time leaving bags on the beach but if there's just 2 of you it has to be done. Therefore bags that look crap are great because they don’t scream Camera equipment. (If I ever know this kind of situation comes up, I would only ever bring with me the absolute minimum which would mean leaving say a battery and SIM cards on the beach, but still not something you want to loose.)
Do you believe some people have a natural talent for photography or can you quickly see who has the technical ‘schooling’ as a photographer?
Everyone has the ability to learn how to take a picture, as in correctly expose for a situation. However it's the ‘eye’ you can’t teach, this takes practice and time. Photography is a skill we all have access to learn, whether or not you can compose what you see to impress people is another story. Having taught students/public myself this is very clear to see. Making an aesthetically pleasing composition is hard and does take time to master what works and what doesn't. Time is definitely key, spend time progressing and we can and will all get there.
You run workshops, what can your students learn in your workshops?
I like to make my workshops accessible to any skill level, whether it's how to get your camera to shoot manual or how to shoot surfers on the waves I will cover it all.
A general workshop will cover
- How to shoot and master manual
- Things to think of when composing a shot
- Techniques on Photoshop and Lightroom
- How to give a set of images a story/concept
- What you need to take into consideration before going on a shoot
- How to shoot with an underwater housing, what is the difference between shooting on land.
- the list goes on, I’m fully adaptable and will teach whatever I can to help the person in question.
When and where will you be hosting your next workshops?
- I will be holding 1-2 day workshops at Surf House St Ives:
27th 28th March
12th and 14th April
21st 22nd August
£96 1 day
£138 2 days
- one day intensive course about surf photography: 18th July
- Newquay based 1 on 1 bite size workshops: 1st August
£50 for 1 hour covering whatever is requested
Make sure you follow Megan on Instagram and get ready to do some serious mind surfing.
Interested in Megan's workshops?
You can find more info on her website: