Jordan Godley Ocean, Surf and Travel Photographer


Firstly, can you start with a little bit about yourself?

Hi, my name is Jordan Godley. I am a 36 year old with a passion for surf photography, travel and football. Currently living a slightly nomadic life based loosely in Bali, originally from the western suburbs of Sydney. Eventually I moved down to the south coast, to a small town called Sussex Inlet. This is where my photography passion grew and slowly took over to a point where I quit my 9-5 as an Accountant and now I chase waves full time.  

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

I use a Nikon D500 & D750 and Aquatech housing. I use the Nikon gear for photography because it pretty much the perfect stills camera. The D750 has buffer issues but other than that there both epic cameras. I’ve used Aquatech housings from the start and haven’t had a reason to switch yet. They also have a clip system which I think I much prefer over the old nuts and bolts. I think in future though I’d love to dabble in video to compliment images so I may move away from Nikon to another setup.

What would be your favourite lens and why?

Years ago I had an old Sigma 85mm 1.4, I think all my favourite images where taken with it so that would be my favourite, I love that field of view on a full frame camera.

Which photographers have inspired you, and how did they influence you?

I think when I first started getting into photography photographers had a huge influence on me more than now. The main guys that influenced me are:

  • Mickey Smith, he has a unique style which I loved & his short clip ‘Dark side of the lens’ gets my super amped, I think I’ve watched it a thousand times over. I’m not if he’s still shooting though which is a shame.

  • Jem Cresswell, he has so many good quality images, so many good trips he’s been on and scored amazing waves. His work always inspires me to travel and chase waves. 

  • Steve Wall, he’s a young guy who’s always thinking outside the box. His night flash surf photography work is some of the best and innovative images I’ve ever seen.

Do you think you need to be a surfer to shoot the ocean?

Definitely no, but I do feel more comfortable and confident in the ocean because I am. 

A few things you have learnt this past year?

  • Quality over quantity, be critical of your work and be open to critique/criticism otherwise you won’t grow. 

  • Nikon is better than Canon (hahaha jokes)

  • Networking is super important, especially in person and not just Instagram DM’s

  • I’ve learnt to think before I shoot, not just take a photo for the sake of taking a picture. Going forward I try and have a purpose or idea in images I take.

What inspires your creative vision?

I think that’s a hard one to describe, it’s more of a feeling I get. Those early mornings swimming around in the ocean watching the sun rise and how it lights up each wave gets me excited, especially if it’s big and heavy waves, lots of energy in the ocean. Also, the idea of travel in search of waves gets my creative juices flowing.

How have you developed your imagery over the years ? What steps have you taken to develop your work?

Back when I switched over to Nikon from Canon (after my housing flooded) I could only afford the one lens, which was the 85mm Sigma (I think I got it second hand for $650) and from that moment on I focused more on getting quality images of good empty waves in perfect light. To develop my work I became more critical of the images I was taking I guess. I also became more focused on my timing when I shot images, for surf spots I’d shoot at i would work out a 15-20 min period of possible perfect light (pending cloud cover levels) and make sure I was in the water and ready to shoot at that time. 99% of the time that meant jumping into the ocean in the dark with no one around and not being able to see the waves 😆

How would you describe your current photographic style?

Currently I feel as if I have no specific style. Moving to Indonesia I’ve been shooting very different waves to what I had at home and I’m also shooting a fair bit for surf resorts or boats which leaves little room for autonomy of focusing on your style. But in saying that my photography has develop as a result. I do love a sort of documentary style with an emphasis on nice light.

Have you ever had an experiences in the ocean that really scared you?

Not really, I’ve seen a fair few sharks swim past but that’s about it. I’ve also been caught in my fair share of rips and currents but nothing dangerous, just a lot of exercise haha. Actually the most scariest moments i've had in the ocean have involved other people nearly drowning in my arms, I was in Morocco last year walking down to the beach for the first time... half in my wetsuit with my housing in hand when I spotted a guy getting pulled out in a rip (on a 1 foot day), everyone was just watching so I quickly chucked my flippers on and swam out to him, when I got to him he wasn't breathing, dragged him back to shore and let other people take over. I didnt find out for a few days whether he survived or not, luckily he did! that was pretty hectic and scary.

Where is your favourite destination to shoot?

The South Coast of NSW and South Australia. I haven’t been to Western Australia yet though and I think that would be pretty epic also.

Finally do you have any advice for aspiring ocean photographers?

There’s heaps of information I’d love to pass on to anyone starting out but first and foremost I’d recommend shooting what you love, experiment and seek feedback from a good photographer then repeat. I’m hoping to find a way to interact/engage with surf photographers more in the future, but until then anyone reading can feel free to shoot me an email with questions.