Hannah Jessup Ocean Photographer, Surfer and Freediver

Hannah Jessup Ocean Photographer and Freediver

INTERVIEW WITH @photosbyhannahjessup

Firstly, can you start with a little bit about yourself and when you started your photography career?

I'm Hannah, I'm 30 years old, and I live on the Gold Coast with my husband and doggo. I have been taking photos semi-professionally for about eight years; I started out doing weddings and family portraits.

I have always been obsessed with the ocean. My father is a mad keen diver. He worked at a scuba store on the South Coast when we were growing up. My brother and I would always hang out on the boat and snorkel above the divers. I dive, free dive and surf in my free time so I have naturally gravitated towards ocean photography.

Hannah Jessup Ocean Photographer, Surfer and Freediver

What equipment do you use to create your images, and why did you select it?

I have recently upgraded to a Nikon D850 with an Elite Aquatech housing. I have always used Nikon, just personal preference and the D850 is an insane 45.7 megapixels camera.

I chose Aquatech because I wanted something robust and reliable that gave me full control of my camera settings.

Hannah Jessup Ocean Photographer and Freediver

How do you prepare before going for a shoot?

As I usually shoot at sunrise, I get all my gear ready the night before. If I'm working with surfers, I like to have some idea of a few shots I want to get. Generally, I will try and capture what's happening around me instead of everything looking posed and forced. I check the tides and wind and pick the location that's going to work best with the conditions. 

How has photography shaped the person you are today?

Photographing the ocean has given me a deep appreciation and respect for the environment. I try to make conscious choices when I buy, say no to single-use plastic and always #takethreeforthesea 

Hannah Jessup Ocean Photographer and Freediver

Which photographers have inspired your journey?

So many! Sean Scott, Craig Parry, Matt Draper, Cait Miers, Darren Jew, Brandon Verdura and Phil Thurston to name a few. 

What has been your proudest body of work to date?

I think the one I am currently working on now, a series featuring female surfers for @thesurfwitches.

Hannah Jessup Ocean Photographer and Freediver

How would you describe your current photographic style?

It has taken me the longest time to find my style, and I am still learning and developing it. I love shooting at sunrise or sunset to capture that dreamy golden glowing light. I like to incorporate sun flares, reflections or bokeh effects in my imagery.

Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?

The more you shoot, the better you get! Also, get to know your camera settings; get off auto as soon as possible, and it will change your world!

Hannah Jessup Ocean Photographer and Freediver

What do you enjoy most about creating in the ocean?

That would have to be everything; the waves, the marine life, the fact that no two days are the same. There is always something new and different to photograph and experience.

Hannah Jessup Ocean Photographer and Freediver

What has been your most memorable location to photograph?

I have been to the Solomon Islands twice, and it is paradise. Mantas, sharks, turtles, shipwrecks and the most transparent, blue water I have ever seen. Unfortunately, when I went, I was shooting with an old gopro3, so my images do not do it justice. I can't wait to go back and photograph it for real. 

Hannah Jessup Ocean Photographer and Freediver

Can you tell me about the @thesurfwitches?

I only started surfing at the beginning of this year with a friend, and we were both instantly hooked. After meeting another girl surfing by herself, the three of us, @miranda_laidlaw & @mawach, created a facebook group (Surf Witches). So we could post where and when we were heading out, so no one had to surf solo. The name came from a few of the girls laughing, and we just ran with it. It has just exploded.

The concept behind it is women supporting women (#witchesnotbitches). Now we do meetups a few times a week with fun days and trips away. Everyone is welcome no matter the age or level. It has turned into this awesome local community of female surfers. Who surf together and look out for one another in and out of the water.

Hannah Jessup Ocean Photographer, Surfer and Freediver

Do you have any exciting projects you are currently working on?

Lots of exciting things in the works for the Surf Witches! Watch this space.

Hannah Jessup Ocean Photographer, Surfer and Free-diver

Finally, what is the most challenging aspect of being a photographer today?

For me, the most challenging thing was finding my niche and style. The web is saturated with so many amazing photographers. I would get so intimidated, comparing my work to all the fantastic images that I saw on social media. Now I find them all more inspiring rather than intimidating, but it took a while to snap myself out of that negative

Hannah Jessup Ocean Photographer, Surfer and Free-diver