To celebrate this years World Photography Day, we wanted to share the world of some special AquaTech users. Without motivation of fame or fortune, they are devoted to their crafts and do it purely for the love of water photography. Their efforts are constantly rewarded with the special moments that only water photographers can capture.
Seb Diaz is the embodiment of the word “frother” (not the coffee utensil), so it was an easy choice to feature him this World Photography Day. Seb’s passion and devotion for water photography is both inspiring and infectious and you’ll find him most days with housing in hand chasing waves. We wanted to find out what it is that makes Seb tick and keeps him constantly on the lookout for that next session.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you are from.
Well first of all I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to share with your followers my passion for water photography. I’m from Maroubra in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, Australia, however my water photography journey probably started a little over 10 years ago when I purchased my first AquaTech water housing while I was in California. That moment I walked into AquaTech changed my life.
What made you decide that you wanted to buy a water housing and get into water photography?
I’ve always had a love of the ocean and would surf almost daily however I associated surfing with pain after being hit by a car and fracturing two vertebrae in my back. So I thought water photography was a way to still enjoy the ocean and not have the associated pain. Now I’m hooked! It’s such an addictive rush that I can’t think of life without this passion for water photography.
"This is a wave I had to fear in order to respect it. It breaks under sea level so there's the danger of being too deep and getting sucked over the falls onto bone rattling reef" - Seb Diaz
Were there any photographers that inspired you when you first picked up the camera?
I would say the first photographer was Clark Little for opening up the art of water and especially shore break photography to the masses. Other photographers that I admire and shoot with regularly are Australia’s Warren Keelan, Dylan Hannah, Paul Grossman, Adam Smith and California’s Jason Fenmore, Sonny Kumukoa and Mike Harris.
Your photography captures a range of different imagery and styles. Do you have a favourite type of subject to capture?
I couldn’t say I have one favourite type, however I froth for a big heavy shore break and beautiful Australian reef breaks. I love capturing empty hollow waves and the power they produce with my favourite time to shoot being first light so I can capture the first light colour with the use of my flash.
"I froth for a big heavy shore break and beautiful Australian reef breaks" - Seb Diaz
What is the most satisfying part of water photography for you?
It’s a way of creating art that can be enjoyed by many people especially with the power of the internet. When someone messages me to let me know they have never seen the ocean but feel like they have through my images, it’s very rewarding.
Being from the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, you’re rarely ever alone in the water. Do you enjoy sharing the experience with other surfers and photographers, or are you just as happy to chase waves on your own?
Living in Sydney I have to be flexible. Our beaches can be quite busy, although at first light when I generally go out there aren’t too many bodies in the water. All those that know me definitely know I love a road trip though!
You get in the water with your camera probably as much as anyone I know, what is it that drives and motivates you to get in the water as much as you can?
I attempt to jump in the ocean daily. It's a spiritual and creative journey for me. Everyday is a different experience to learn from as there are different lighting, swell and weather conditions to work with.
How has your photography evolved over time?
I look back at my images from 2010 and laugh at all the things I didn’t know. I started just shooting surfers only then I realised there was so much more I could do with my equipment. It was a way of creating art through my lens and then seeing it being hung on someone’s wall.
"The use of my flash has allowed me to capture and keep a lot of the colour of first light" - Seb Diaz
What is your creative process? Do you utilise much post processing for your imagery, or are you more inclined to capture in camera?
I only use Lightroom to edit my images as I don’t want to spend endless hours changing something that I’ve captured. The use of my flash has allowed me to capture and keep a lot of the colour of first light also.
Looking through your profile on your Instagram, you have a portfolio of images that equals most professional photographers. Did you ever have aspirations of making a living from your photography, or was it more about your own personal enjoyment?
Good question! I’ve been asked that many, many times. My answer has always been the same, that I would never want to shoot to put food on the table. That way it remains a passion and not a necessity. It gives me so much more freedom to create without the added stress.
Being a flight attendant, you travel around a lot. Are you able to take any gear with you when you travel so you can jump in the water? Do you have any favourite places to shoot?
I feel blessed that I’ve been able to shoot so many breaks around the world. Some of them I'm unable to mention (to keep them low key), however two of my favourite overseas locations would be Keiki Beach on the North Shore of Oahu, and The Wedge (California), with Shark Island being my favourite Australian location.
What would your dream water photography location and shoot be?
It would be a toss of the coin between Puerto Escondido in Mexico or Teahupoo in Tahiti. I have been to Puerto but it was a surfing trip and I hadn't fallen in love with photography then as the gear wasn’t as advanced as it is now. The quality of the AquaTech equipment now has made water photography accessible to many that hadn’t considered it before, me being one.
You also seem to experiment a bit with the AxisGO. Are you approaching things differently when you’re using the AxisGO?
The AxisGO is the perfect travel companion and is very versatile being able to switch from photos to video very quickly and takes up no room in my cabin luggage.
Are there any particular sessions or memories you’ve had in the water that stick with you?
I try to spend a month or two in Hawaii every year and about 5 years ago I scored some epic swells on the North Shore of Oahu. I was there so often that one of the local photographers thought I’d moved there. Everyday was 8-12 ft and that was the shore break! It was a mind blowing experience and tested my limits.
What does your current camera kit consist of?
I’ve only ever shot with AquaTech Housings and Nikon camera gear and at the moment I’m running a Nikon D500. It shoots at 11 FPS so it’s great for the sporting and water photography realm. I tend to use my Nikon 50 mm 1.8 quite often as they say if in doubt go with the 50mm as it’s light and has great sharpness at that price range. For my shore break sessions when it’s super hollow I’ll use my Tokina 11-16mm 2.8 which is an ultra wide and then when I need a little more distance I’ll use my Sigma Art 85mm and 135 mm. I’ve got two AquaTech housings which are the Elite II and the newer base housing with the game changing M3 Pistol Grip which really is the greatest update to the AquaTech line up. I’ve got three ports for my kit which are the AquaTech PD 85 for my Tokina 11-16 2.8 and my 10.5mm Nikkor fisheye. Two ports I use most are the P series P 80 and P-100 that I use with my Nikkor 50mm and Nikkor 17-55mm 2.8 and the Sigma Art 85mm and 135mm.