Six months in, our Photo of the Day feature is doing quite well: tens of thousands of views plus hundreds of potential gems streaming in daily from photographers up and down the East Coast and across the Gulf, Caribbean, and Great Lakes (along with around the world). That’s added a rad #liveaction component to our website and social media channels, and gave us numerous Photo of the Day recap galleries that continue to blow minds. For March 2017, our winner is Virginia photographer Patrick Duggan, whose shot of Raven Lundy won a commanding percentage of the online voting. Read Patrick’s short interview below and scope out a few more of his beautiful Virginia/North Carolina perspectives. Oh, and photographers — keep those potential #photooftheday shots coming!
Name: Patrick Duggan
Hometown: Virginia Beach, VA
Time Shooting: Four months
Preferred gear: Nikon / GoPro
What do you love about this photo of Raven Lundy? The thing that really stands out to me is how well all the components came together. First, there’s the almost golden color of the wave, the lighting was good, the barrel was better, and Raven positioned himself perfectly in it. It’s really a classic example of a perfect day on the Outer Banks.
What do you think made it appeal to surf fans? I think the first impression from this picture that people may have gotten is the golden color. Ultimately, I think it just shows that classic, crowd-free spring day on the Outer Banks that everyone is always hunting. Maybe that’s what people were getting from it.
What would you have done differently? If I could have done one thing differently with the picture, I think I would have definitely tried to tilt the camera up a bit to show more of the upper part of the wave. And maybe angle it a touch to the left.
What makes your neck of the woods so photogenic? I think one of the big things that makes the Outer Banks and Virginia so photogenic is how different it can be all the time. One day, it could be cloudy with brown water, then the next day it could be sunny and the water could be blue. Down in the Outer Banks, there are also a lot of places that just have dunes looking back towards the beach, which makes for a really sick backdrop if you are shooting from the water. Everything is just so variable — you never know what you’re going to get. But most of the time it turns out sick.
What three photographers have influenced you most? Jon Carter, Matt Lusk, and Graham Hunt. Graham is always getting these incredible pictures from the water at sunset that just absolutely blow my mind. It’s unreal how perfect some of the shots he gets are. I really hope that I can get a shot like that in the future! Matt’s work is great too. I think he has really captured some of the golden moments in the Outer Banks that will be hard to recreate. He’s also a beast when it comes to swimming out in big surf — no fear whatsoever. Jon is one of the first people I met when I started making trips down to the Outer Banks. I’m always so amped when I see him at the beach because I know he’s trying to get some different angle that almost always turns out amazing. Recently, he’s been a huge help with my photography because I’m so new to it. I’m always going to him for any questions or concerns I might have. I really don’t think my pictures would be the way they are without being able to look up to these guys.
How do you balance social media vs. submitting to publications and generally navigating the challenges that come with surf photography in 2017? When it comes to social media, if there’s a day that is good and I’m taking pictures, of course I’m going to try and put at least one picture up the day of. But I like to hold on to my top three or so to send in. Usually I decide on what to send in by gut feeling — or if I showed one of my friends and they suggest it.
What do you think makes your photography stand out? I really don’t intentionally try to make my photography stand out. To me, it’s more about having fun and getting to capture the moment, whether it be an empty or someone on a wave. A lot of the times, I’m just staying on my toes and trying to get it all. One thing I do find myself doing is moving to different spots on the beach frequently so that my pictures don’t all look the same.
What advice would you offer to other young photographers? If I could give words of wisdom to other people that are new to photography, I would say don’t take it too seriously. If you’re uptight the whole time or stressing about getting a better picture than other people on the beach, you aren’t going to have fun. Just do what feels right — and if you miss something, there’s always next time. Try to keep the stoke levels high for everyone!