Shooting the Surf with Bryanna Bradley

In conversation Bryanna Bradley. A photographer documenting the female surf scene in Tofino BC.
Bryanna Bradley  |   CANADA

 

Bryanna Bradley works a little harder than some to hone her craft. Surfing isn’t all shorts and sunshine sliding on glassy runners in warm waters with endless sunsets and a light breeze. Nope, for Bryanna Bradley and the surfers of Tofino, British Columbia, it can be likened to jumping into a swirling slushie and battling brain-freeze for hours to get a wave. But as any surfer will tell you, it’s addictive, and you do it anyway.

Bryanna gets out there often and focuses on the female surf crew, which is strong, in Tofino. Her work is dreamy, clean and honest. She makes icy cold waters seem utterly approachable. We got in touch over email and asked Bryanna some questions for the latest instalment in our Shooting the Surf series.

 

Bryanna Bradley

 

Gobe:

Thanks for your time Bryanna 🙂 How are you? Where are you answering these questions from and what are your plans for the day

 

Bryanna Bradley:

Thanks so much for considering me for this interview!
Today is a great day! I am currently answering these question from the hammock on my balcony that overlooks the Clayoquot Sound. The sun is shining in Tofino today, which is always a treat. Just getting some work done this afternoon before some water time this evening.

 

Gobe:

What gets you up in the morning and what is the first thing you do?

 

Bryanna Bradley:

The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is look out the window to check out what Tofino is doing weather-wise. If it isn’t too foggy or stormy, I’ll often head down to the beach to surf or shoot, or both, before I start working. Depending on the time of year I can be much more motivated some days than others.

 

Bryanna Bradley

Bryanna Bradley

 

“I love telling stories through photography, including all the elements, and getting the honour to share personal stories of incredible people.”

 

Gobe:

I read that you wanted to be a National Geographic photographer to save the world before you wanted to be a surf photographer, tell us about this change of heart?

 

Bryanna Bradley:

Yes, this is true, but let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to be a National Geographic photographer? I love telling stories through photography, including all the elements, and getting the honour to share personal stories of incredible people. Plus travelling is pretty much the only reason I work for money.
Following school for photojournalism, I ended up freelancing for a daily paper out of Montreal, Canada. There was so much I learned working in the journalism world, however, there was a lot that didn’t work for me and I am so happy I realized that at 21 years old.
It took me a while to navigate what I wanted to do photo-wise after leaving journalism, I actually didn’t shoot much for 3 years, instead, I travelled the world and learned to surf. It wasn’t until I moved to Tofino that the idea of becoming a surf photographer even became a possibility.
I now feel that what I do, shooting and telling the story of the incredible female athletes that make up the surf community in Tofino, is closer to my National Geographic dream more so than my time working at a daily paper.
There is so much attention on the males in the surf industry, I get the chance to show the world how great the cold water females are in Canada and get to call a very beautiful place my office, so really, it is a dream come true. And who knows, maybe one of these days I’ll get to work with National Geographic, I am just getting started!

 

Bryanna Bradley

Bryanna Bradley

 

Gobe:

It’s been said that the women’s surf scene in Tofino is thriving and at times equal in the line-up, why do you think that is?

 

Bryanna Bradley:

It absolutely is, it is so amazing to live in a place where this is the reality of our line-ups. I am not sure I have a reason for the equality, I think having a very influential all-female surf school, Surf Sister, it’s a fundamental reason for all the female surfers to get out there. In addition to Surf Sister, there is an all-female surf competition, Queen of the Peak, which has really encouraged the women of Tofino to get in the water and not be intimidated.

 

Bryanna Bradley

 

Gobe:

You were at one stage the only female surf photographer in the water, is that still the case or have you inspired others to freeze for the frames already?

 

Bryanna Bradley:

Yay! It is exciting to see there have been a few more females that have grabbed their cameras and jumped into the water in Tofino. It is great to see, as it shows that the female surf community is growing in every way possible, which has been my goal for focusing on the female surf community in Tofino.

 

Bryanna Bradley

 

“You know how surfing is addictive? You want that next wave to be your biggest and best? It feels the same way about pictures of surfing, it is overwhelmingly addictive.”

 

Gobe:

It’s not a walk in the park taking surf photos in the icy cold Tofino waters, have you ever been bobbing there in the water and questioned everything? If so, what kept you in the ice bucket?

 

Bryanna Bradley:

Absolutely. Basically, from November to March it is like drinking a slushie for the duration of the swim, a consistent brain freeze is not exactly inviting. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t tell you there have been days in January where I have swum in the coldest waters and not lined up with one surfer for a photo, walked back to my car in tears because I am so frozen it hurts and my fingers swell because they are so cold.
But, you know how surfing is addictive? You want that next wave to be your biggest and best? It feels the same way about pictures of surfing, it is overwhelmingly addictive. I truly feel like my next photo could potentially be my best shot ever.

 

Bryanna Bradley

 

Gobe:

Where has been your favourite travel destination to photograph and surf?

 

Bryanna Bradley:

Hawaii, not a question in the world. The water is magical and the stoke is real, the surf culture is timeless and the landscape is priceless, not to mention the talent of the generations of surfers that decorate each surf break is exciting to shoot.

 

Gobe:

What is your favourite photograph you’ve ever taken, and could you tell us the story behind it? Have you got that bucket list barrel shot yet?

 

Bryanna Bradley:

I can’t say I have a favourite photo, I think if I did I would quit. There would be no more chase.  As for the barrel shot, this coming winter…

 

Bryanna Bradley

Bryanna Bradley

 

“My inspiration comes from the beauty and talent that surrounds me, I appreciate how graceful and powerful the females in my life are when it comes to their dance with the ocean.”

 

Gobe:

Who or what are some of your inspirations? And what keeps you motivated to keep creating?

 

Bryanna Bradley:

Natural light might be my biggest inspiration, I get more excited about different light, more so than anything in my life. In addition to changing light, my inspiration comes from the beauty and talent that surrounds me, I appreciate how graceful and powerful the females in my life are when it comes to their dance with the ocean. It also helps that I am also lucky to live in the most beautiful place in the world and travel to equally as beautiful places that inspire me.

 

Gobe:

Who are your favourite female photographers, surf or otherwise?

 

Bryanna Bradley:

When it comes to surf photography, Sarah Lee, was the first female surf photographer that really inspired me. She is a female surf photographer that seems so graceful and fearless amongst the waves. I also love love love Jen Buck’s work in California and Fran Miller’s surf photography in Australia. All these women have the ability to capture the emotion and beauty that surfing brings out in each individual.

 

Bryanna Bradley

 

Gobe:

If you could photograph any person or any place, who or where would it be? I know my list for this topic grows every day, so maybe who or where is at the moment?

 

Bryanna Bradley:

I have already gotten to work with so many talented and inspiring individuals all over the world, that I want to shoot with a million more times. That being said, I think Stephanie Gilmore and Lauren Curren would be at the top of the list, they both have the ability to paint a wave as if it is a canvas and make surfing much more of an art than a high-performance sport, even if that is what it is.
As for places I have always wanted to shoot… everywhere! I have travelled a lot but any opportunity to go somewhere new never fails to inspire me. I love getting to check out new spots and the light and beauty it has to offer.
I really want to spend some solid time travelling to more remote places in Canada, it is such an adventure to get to some of the locations. Tahiti sounds magical too.

 

Bryanna Bradley

 

Gobe:

What personal projects can we look forward to from you next, what are you enjoying exploring at the moment?

 

Bryanna Bradley:

This winter I will be doing some travelling, shooting with new people in new places and that always makes me annoyingly excited.

 

Gobe:

Thanks for your time Bryanna

 


 

 

Bryanna Bradley

Portrait of Bryanna Bradley by Nora Morrison

F U L L  N A M E

Bryanna Bradley

 

bryannabradley.ca
@bryannabradleyphotgraphy

H O M E T O W N  &  N E I G H B O U R H O O D

Originally from Stittsville, Ontario but I live in Tofino, BC now 🙂

 

 


 

This is the latest instalment in an ongoing conversation Gobe is having with our favourite female surf photographers from around the world. You can find the rest of them over here.

 


 

 

By | 2018-12-05T00:29:30+00:00 September 26th, 2018|Categories: Interviews, Photography|Tags: , , , , , |