Shooter: Meet Maine Photographer Joshua Kelly Presented By WRV

April 17, 2020 • Photo Portfolio, Photos, Shooter

Brought to you by Wave Riding Vehicles @ 

Age:  43

Where do you live :  Scarborough, Maine

Main source of income :   Photography

Website :

Instagram : @joshuakellyphoto

Where do you shoot the most :   New England coast

Favorite place to shoot :  Anywhere there is surf

Whats in your kit bag :  Canon 5D mark VII and various canon lenses is what I use the most.  I have several other Canon’s that I grab for backup.

Meet Mr. Josh Kelly. MT. Chirripo Costa Rica selfie.

When did you start photography ?  I caught the bug at a young age.  I was always fascinated by the photos in National Geographic, Thrasher and Surfing magazines.  My mother gave me a camera when I was about 13 and I would take pictures of my friends in my half pipe, skateboarding, snowboarding, dirt bike riding or of the White Mountains.  These were all right in my back yard.

Maine doing it’s best with hurricane swell. I lucked out by pulling up to the beach at the right time. I couldn’t believe my eyes and even crashed into a curb because I was staring and frothing at the waves.

First published photo ?  I was in high school and worked at my father’s restaurant for the summer. Any time it was slow, I would open up the same Surfing magazine and day dream about all the photos, wishing I was anywhere in that magazine.   Fast forward 20 years and I was talking to the editors of that same magazine.  Jimmy Wilson and Peter Taras of Surfing magazine started responding to my submissions and giving me advice.  Then, when I started to think of giving up, they asked me if they could use my photo on Instagram.  I was honored and owe them a big thanks for keeping me in the game and the stoke alive.

My first ever published photo that appeared on Surfing Magazines Instagram thanks to Pete Taras and former ESM photo editor Jimmy Wilson.

Biggest photo buyout print or digital and tell us a little bit about the image :  Not my biggest but one of my most memorable for me was the aforementioned frame used by Surfing Magazine paid $50 for a digital copy to use on their Instagram.  I was stoked to see a photo of mine on the site of one of my favorite surf magazines!  As far as my biggest…working on that now with a series of photos for a film company in Japan.

Chasing a winter nor’easter pays off with nice sets and interesting sunset colors.

How do you feel about the rise of digital, social media and the decline of print surf magazines ? Very sad.  I love magazines! As a kid they shaped my life. They were my outlet, a way to get lost in colorful photos of exotic places from around the world.  Take photos of amazing destinations and add perfect surf and you have heaven on earth. I used to look at magazines everyday, sometimes looking at the same photos for weeks, months and sometimes even years. I find it hard to look at a photo on my phone for more than 10 seconds.  Print was my world growing up.  Posters and magazine cut outs covered every square inch of my room.  You have to keep up with the times and I can see positive aspects of social media as well but I will always be a fan of print.

There is nothing like sunrise in Maine, Early morning surfer enjoying the colors of fall and the incoming swell.


What do you photograph besides surfing : I shoot what I love…landscapes, sunrises, sunsets, and wildlife.  My father loved wildlife and taught me about all the native birds in the area. After he died, I started having fun with the challenge of bird photography.  I would like to shoot more skateboarding and snowboarding too since I have a long history with both of those as well.  My goal over the next year or so is to invest more time on underwater photography.

Sunrise at Cape Cod National Seashore. Two Great Blue Heron’s pass by me on a peaceful morning.

If you could pick one place to travel and shoot all expenses paid where would it be and why ? So many places…I would love to get another chance at Africa.  I went on a NOLS trip when I was in high school and spent 3 months in Kenya.  It was recommended not to bring expensive camera gear because of theft.  When I got there I was the only one that showed up with a basic camera.  I got some really cool shots but it would have been great to have a better quality camera.

Two Maine surfers sizing up the waves. It is always a battle being a New England surfer in the winter. You have to decide if the waves are worth the frostbite.

So what exactly  is a “NOLS” trip then and what did that do for you? it stands for National Outdoor Leadership School and is a nonprofit global wilderness school.  My parents sent me to Africa to help me appreciate continuing my education while feeding my love for travel and adventure.  I was excited because I had always wanted to go to Africa after looking at photos in National Geographic and in a book my grandfather gave to me on Kenya when I was young.  We spent 3 months in Africa spending 26 days hiking Mt. Kenya (2nd highest mountain in Africa), 3 weeks hiking the Maasai Mara wildlife preserve, several weeks sailing dows (old wooden sailboats) from island to island in the Indian Ocean and a few weeks on safari. The Africa trip was definitely a  game changer for me.

One of my favorite rights to surf and shoot. It works well with a quick moving Nor’easter.

Favorite time to shoot ?  Dawn no doubt.  So many magical moments happen around you before and during sunrise.  It charges me up to see everything in that light.  I really feel in my element.  Everyone around me is in a good mood and enjoying a spiritual moment as well, while most are still sleeping.

Hard to get to but worth the amazing left barrel.

Places you have traveled to and photographed ?  California, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Hawaii

Having morning coffee with friends and a perfect view in Nicaragua.

Surf photog you most admire and have found inspirational to your work ? That is a hard one. I have a few.  Ryan Craig, Todd Glaser, Peter Taras and Ron Stoner come to mind but I have to say Jimmy Wilson is probably my favorite. Jimmy was one of the first to give be feedback and advice. It was awesome to get that from a world class photographer.

Conditions got good with a strong off shore wind. These two women were enjoying watching the waves and surfers and they added perspective to the photo.

Non surf image you are most stoked on and why ? A photo I took when I lived in California.  It was one of the first photos I fever framed and gave to close friends that lived in San Francisco.  They wrote me a letter praising the photo saying it “brought them great comfort”.  It meant so much to me that I still have that letter on my desk today.

This was one of the first photos I framed and gave to close friends that lived in San Francisco. They wrote me a letter praising the photo saying it “brought them great comfort”. It meant so much to me that I still have that letter on my desk today.

Water or land photos ?   Water…all day long!

Any final thoughts or observations on photography today good , bad or ugly?  It has really blown up.’s crazy now and a little overwhelming but I have learned to embrace it. And to new photogs Keep the faith!  You will receive criticism as well as compliments.  Use them both constructively and try and concentrate on the positive.

Silver waves at NH’s most popular spot.

Amazing Maine sunrise with waves lining up and the first surfer to greet them.

Live free or die is New Hampshire’s motto! This surfer is making the best of it.

I spent the 80’s surfing, snowboarding and skateboarding whenever I could. This ramp was built for me by friends and family and enjoyed by many over the years.

A rare spring day for Maine where we saw off shore winds and good surf all day long. This surfer caught one of the first waves of the day.

Chasing Hurricane Maria brought me down to Rhode Island. Maria delivered amazing surf for days!

In this shot I wanted to line up the bench with the snow, a killer left barrel and add a surfer to make for a fun day!

I was taking a picture of this New Hampshire surfer get an amazing barrel and this guy stepped into the frame. I thought it actually made it an interesting shot so decided to use him.

Timing is everything! Good luck getting barreled here…it’s only for the lucky few.

One of the best days I have ever seen in Maine! Winds cranking off shore and surfers dropping into insane barrels all day.

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