Russell Ord is a surf photographer from Australia. He lives out there on the boundary between shootable and deadly, trying to immortalize some of the heaviest waves ever seen.

Cyclops - Waves produce some of the most amazing shapes.
Cyclops - Waves produce some of the most amazing shapes.

Where were you born and where do you live now?

I was born in Perth Western Australia and live three hours down the road in Margaret River however that will be changing soon when we go transit (the family) a go between traveling through the Pacific and living in Indonesia depending on the wife’s work.

When did you first know you wanted to be a photographer and how did you became a surf photographer?

I lucked into surf photography because of an injury surfing myself, once I experienced that feeling of floating around the ocean on my own taking images it became very addictive, its always amazing how the ocean makes me feel, an incredible office to say the least, now I am very fortunate to make it part of my work and everyday life.

Mark Cunningham one of the finest waterman in the world, he is incredible to watch when he is body-surfing pipleline, one of the heaviest waves in the world located on the North Shore Hawaii.
Mark Cunningham one of the finest waterman in the world, he is incredible to watch when he is body-surfing pipleline, one of the heaviest waves in the world located on the North Shore Hawaii.

Many people love surf images but they don’t really imagine the work behind each image and the risks, can you describe one of your image in details and tell us why it was difficult to obtain it?

Most people look at amazing photos and only see “moments in time captured well”. My first thoughts are always based around “how did they take that photo”. The free-diving photographer that has years of experience with marine life and taking a photo on a single breathe hold. The skills of a mountain climbing photographer capturing angles from scary heights. The artistic image that I have no idea at all on how they took it.

The more challenging the scenario  the more I am impressed and inspired. Swimming into the impact zone of one of the heaviest waves on the planet is far different than taking the same shot from the safety of the channel, it takes years of ocean knowledge, fitness, breathe hold training, experience in heavy surf conditions to even fire that camera trigger under such conditions.

This sequence of Dan Ryan is one of those moments I can look at and call it a “Russell Ord” a unique perspective of the ocean that cannot be taken without the listed factors above, I have only 5-10 "moments in time" in my collection that can speak to me like that.

Even if there’s no water-housing for it yet you use an X-Pro2, can you tell us a bit why and what attracts you in the Fujifilm X-Series system?

I have recently been a convert to the Fujifilm X-Series cameras system and could not be happier with my decision, having been a DSLR user for the last 15 years (surf photographer) I was a little sceptical at first about focus speed, build and image quality however I was more than pleasantly surprised when I trialled the Fujifilm X-Pro2 from Camera Electronic, this is exactly what my photography required, a light kit for travel, un-intrusive equipment for my lifestyle work, robust, exceptional image quality and the list goes on. I am now a proud Fuji owner and once I have a water-housing built (its on its way) that’s the only kit I will ever need.

Travelling light with top quality gear from Fujifilm, G-Technology and a few Carl Zeiss Lenses.
Jacob Willcox getting ready for an early morning surf in Western Australia

What do you enjoy doing when not taking photos?

My whole life seems to resolve around the ocean, surfing, body-surfing, free-diving. I recently became a qualified trainer for One Ocean International, which specialize in watermanship training, apnea, sea survival, training techniques, planning and preparedness, mental focus and a number of other skills, which provides knowledge and confidence in an ocean environment.

What are your plans for this year? Do you already have a new project in mind?

Photography wise I am looking at trying to combine a course which relates to surf photography and watermanship, it goes hand in hand. We (my family) are also looking at starting a trip exploring the Pacific and I would like to document non-profits (organisations related to ocean conservation). A personal project will be the “The Sea we live in” which is story based plus imagery of people that live off the ocean. Last but not least I am finishing off the One Shot Documentary with Darren McCagh from Farmhouse Films.

Darren McCagh hard work for the documentary One Shot

Where can we see more of your work?

On my website but also on Facebook and Instagram. Plus in many different surfing publications world wide (here's a list).