INTERVIEW WITH SURF PHOTOGRAPHER @senseiodell
Firstly, can you start with a little bit about yourself?
I'm a smidge over 5'10, no six pack, I have caramel skin and two small pets......And my name is Odell Harris.
I live with my partner and our near 18 year old daughter in Brisbane.....a 50 min drive to either the Gold Coast or the Sunshine Coast and I love to surf and create ocean imagery.... and now I podcast about it as well.
Can you give a breakdown of the equipment you use to create your images?
It changes but the predominate tools at the moment are a Canon 70d in SPL housing, a number of lenses and ports, a Canon 5D Mark III, 10mm-500mm of different lenses, NISI filters which get brushed for screw on one's, a GoPro 6 and Kneket Dome, trigger and trigger pole...oh and my Iphone gets a run with a DJI osmo mobile.
I've got a Sony, a Mavic and a bunch of other gear but the above stuff gets the most use for ocean imagery at the moment.
Actually, recently my Canon slipped off my tripod with the 50-500mm Bigma attached and snapped clean off at the lens mount....so I don't shoot surfing from the sand at the moment.
What are your go to settings when you shoot in the ocean ?
GP - 30/2sec, Iso 100-200, flat colour profile, and wide
Canon - Fisheye, f 5.6, iso 100, ss 250 or more. 85mm, shot on shutter priority, normally around ss 500 -1000
From the sand I like to pan on surfers and get some motion, some times I use ND filters to get ghost surfers and milky water.
Which photographers have influenced you, and why?
So many. Seriously.
When I went to school I had to do photography and use film...it wasn't cool to be a photographer, there was only one kid that did it really and he was a bit of an outcast. He'd tag along occasionally and shoot our surfing antics. His name was Jolen...I wish I had of been kinder to him...I'd thank hm now for planting a seed. My room wall was plastered with surf mag posters, I always loved the image of a great surf shot, it transported me into the barrel or that beach.
Fast froward years later to the digital age and I'm surfing in the Mentawai Island's making YouTube videos with my old iphone 4 or something and I pick up my mates Canon, I shot a few frames and really liked the results. He worked for Canon which ment he could get 50% discount on a set up when we got back to Australia. He was my biggest influence, if it wasn't for him I would've never been able to afford a set up or even thought about.
I love fashion, fashion photography, Portrait photography, Sports photography and so many other genre of film, photography and imagery.....If you love imagery you might want to check this list out.
Mario Testino - couldn't book a job in the early days.
And a bunch of old school surf photographers
And Newer Breed
Two guys that are responsible for me shooting from the water are Geoff White and Jared, I saw them out the first time I took my GoPro out and they were both frothing so hard it was infectious and I was hooked. So those two and another guy Todd are a little crew I love to catch up with as much as I can now....and the crew is growing..all really pleasant, good humans.
Can you walk me through your editing process?
Shoot - Backup - LR (batching and basic editing) - PS (images that I want to work more on) - Export to Dropbox and Hard dives - Share some on the Gram.
Do you have any exciting projects lined up?
I'm in the process of starting a media company
Growing the listenership for the podcast 'Chasing Clarity'
The Water Rats Ocean Photography Club....currently seeking insurance.
What do you hope to achieve with your photography?
In terms of Ocean Imagery, I really love the people I meet with a common interest. I dig helping grow strong communities and I would love it, if one day we would all take a deeper responsibility for our playground. Work hard to clean it up for us and our future generations.....that sounds a bit wanky but I've been surfing since I was eight. I've never seen, nor picked up more rubbish on my walk back from the line up than I have in the past couple of years. Last week I took photos from a rock wall not 10 meters from a bin and I filled up both arms with rubbish, I was pissed. Just lazy shits !
How would you describe your current photographic style?
Hmmmmm......it really depends what I'm shooting. I guess somewhat moody, I like to capture emotion in a surfers face or stance. I like my images of waves to conjure up thoughts of power, although I like my wave shots to be mind surfed lol. I dig storm clouds approaching and rain pelting down around people in the water....again it sounds wanky but I want my imagery to make you stop and look at the story being told and let your eye go to where the action is. Is that a style? What do you think my style is?
Have you ever had an experience in the ocean that really scared you?
Yep, a bunch. I wrote about a couple on my Insta. As I said I've been surfing since I was young, I've had a heap of floggings...."saved" my sister from drowning once, where I grew up Rodney Fox got munched on....look him up and we had a few resident white pointers that would visit yearly. I'm shit scared of sharks, it makes paddling out the back with no board and just my camera pretty daunting....but you've gotta respect the ocean and deal with it. Have you photographed with goggles? That's interesting to see all the marine life you just can't see without them.
Talk to me about CHASING Clarity your podcast?
It's a conversational podcast about ocean imagery and the artists that create it. They are a great learning resource with a touch of human interest, I would like to hear some female perspectives if you want to come on? Actually if any of your readers would like to come on get in contact and lets meet and record.....The guests so far have included a former WSL photographer, professional surf videographer, fine art image maker....I'd love to hear your thoughts again, hit me on the Gram! lol.
If you like more human interest you can listen to my award winning show 'Against All Odz'....face to face conversations with everyday people who inspire.......some of those Eps will leave you in tears....Im Ep 10 if you want to hear about how I was diagnosed with anxiety, and dealt with it.......but yeah 'Chasing Clarity'!
Finally do you have any advice for aspiring ocean photographers ?
1. Before you step one toe in the ocean, know some basic water safety, the sea doesn't give a shit about you and will smash you into tiny pieces if you don't respect it. Thats not to scare you but to encourage a healthy understanding, its an amazing place, a beautiful playground but acknowledge the dangers and treat it accordingly.
2. What you've got here Kat is an amazing resource....beginners and even advanced artist's should peruse the pages of your blog, its filled with learnings...so is my podcast. lol
3. Life is fun when you do it with someone you love....shoot with at least one other, even if just for safety.
4. Don't be afraid to ask questions and ask for critique. I've shadowed fashion photographers, lifestyle photographers, videographers and even journalists to learn how they create what they do and how to improve what I want to create.
5. Its clique....have fun. If it ain't fun brush it.
oh..oh..one last thing...your gear are tools, learn them and learn them well. Understand there's always a right tool for every job but sometimes the tool you have won't be the tool you need, then because you've learnt it well, you can make it do something it’s not designed for...then you become the Sensei! LOL.
Thank you for the interview I really love what your doing and the sentiment behind it.
See you in the water