Hailing from the Golden state, we would like to introduce Russell Holliday as this weeks featured photographer of our portfolio series. As a travelling surf/adventure photographer, his imagery speaks for its self. From stormy cold climates to sunny turquoise waters, Russell adapts to anything that is thrown his way. Scroll down to view his fantastic portfolio and learn more about his gear, thoughts, and future.
- First off, tells us a little about yourself?
My name is Russell Holliday, I’m from Santa Barbara, California and I am a photographer.
- When did you first pick up a camera? And when did you decide to make it a career?
The first time I picked up a camera was to take photos of my dad surfing. I grew up racing mountain bikes and would always get hurt and be stuck on the beach in a sling or something, so I started filling the time by messing around with a camera. I never thought I would be doing it as a career because I didn’t think I was good enough haha. I went to college and studying marketing/advertising but was always trying to apply what I was learning to photography. I was introduced to the commercial world when I took a full-time job as a photo editor / digital tech for Chris Burkard and never looked back.
- How were your intern years with Chris Burkard? What trip stood out the most for you over the time spent working with Chris?
It was crazy! I started at the studio full-time straight out of college at the end of 2015. I walked away from that whole experience learning a ton and had some incredible memories that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life which is what find most valuable. I went to Iceland with Chris to shoot a surf trip for Surfer Magazine and what would later be made into a film ‘Under an Arctic Sky’. I saw some of the craziest waves of my life and was lucky enough to see some rugged parts of the country. Maybe someday I will be able to do a crazier trip myself, but for now, all I can feel is gratitude for being a part of the whole thing.
- What is your everyday go-to camera set up when going on a surf trip?
The kit I carry with me every trip is:
16-35mm 2.8 — to shoot in a water housing
50mm 1.4 — what’s on my camera all the time if we’re travelling or hanging around
24-70 2.8 — the safety lens
70-200 2.8 w/ doubler — land setup
Sea to Summit 90L dry bag
- How has life been outside of assisting and interning? Booking gigs yourself etc.
It’s been great to step out on my own and be booking work for myself. The outdoor industry is really small and tight-knit and I’ve loved developing great working relationships with some outdoor brands, agencies, and athletes.
- What have you been up to over the last month?
I was in Mallorca, Spain for two weeks shooting a catalogue for an outdoor brand, then came home for a couple of days shoot around Santa Barbara, and then flew up to Canada for a few weeks looking for waves. All in all, it’s been pretty non stop.
- What is your favourite hobby or activity outside of photography and surfing?
I grew up surfing but spent the majority of my time mountain biking. I was obsessed. I had to sell my bikes to go to college and made a promise to myself that when I got a “real job”, I would buy myself a mountain bike again. When that moment finally came I fully relived the obsession; I remember calling my mom and telling her I saved up enough to get another mountain bike and she was so stoked as was I! I ride as much as I surf at this point.
- What pisses you off most about the photo world?
Oh man! I can’t rant too bad because I’m guilty of doing most of it myself at one point in time, but am learning from my own mistakes. I get bummed on how the majority of photographs are viewed at this point in time: on an iPhone screen.
- You have travelled to many countries over the last few years, what country is next on your list and why?
I would love to go to Chile and go back to New Zealand. They are both get more rugged the farther south you go, and I have always been drawn to that.
- What would you like to see more and less off in the world of surfing?
Exploratory surf trips
Follow behind shots on slabs!
- Living in Cali, you have tons of competition in the photo world, how do you differentiate yourself some the pack?
That’s a tricky one! I’ve been exploring the side of post-processing with surf photos and how you can try and make a photograph into something you’ve never seen before by getting creative in post. Usually, the images of mine that have gained attention are the ones that I’ve sat and stared at for hours trying to figure out how to edit them. In my mind, how you shape light in editing is equally essential as composing the image itself — the technology is there why not use it!
- What’s next for Russell? 5-year plan?
If I could be doing what I’m doing right now, I will be happy. It’s easier right now because I can keep my expenses low, and am only accountable for myself financially. I’d love to keep seeing new places in the world and finding waves along the way. My photographic goal is to work with integrity, not screw anyone over, have respect for locals, and make lifelong friendships; if I can step back in 5 years and know wholeheartedly that I achieved those I know, I will be happy with the photographs I’ve gotten.