Surf Instagramers To Follow Now

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Surf Instagramers To Follow Now

Words by Ms Hayley Daen

5 August 2015

From Margaret River to the Marshall Islands, where these ocean photographers go to hang 10.

Remember when people used to talk about “surfing the net”? Ridiculous. It would be hard to find two things more different than (a) throwing oneself into the might of an incoming wave and (b) sitting quietly, guiltily clicking “refresh” on But what can you do, people say these things. There’s no stopping them.  

“Surfing” Instagram? Still bad, but not so much. In fact, the document-every-second-of-my-life nature of the platform makes it a rather absorbing method of vicariously enjoying the awesome swells and sun-kissed sights that surfing is well known for. Through the marvels of modern technology (by which we mean iPhones and GoPros), surf ’gramers such as @morganmaassen and @threeifbysea are able to use Instagram to take their followers with them as they grab their boards and set out to conquer the waves, offering up-close-and-personal shots of incredible locales, awesome feats of dexterity and, of course, lots and lots of blue (Instagram’s favourite colour). OK, there are a lot of girls in bikinis out there, too (it kind of comes with the territory). Having scoured them all, as is our wont, the following six accounts are among the very best that MR PORTER has come across. So strap on a (virtual) wetsuit and prepare to get (digitally) gnarly. Or something to that effect.

the adventurer

Mr Mark McInnis has lived by the ocean since an early age, spending much of his time with his father in Hawaii when he was growing up. He recalls the first time they hit the sea together: “We surfed stormy Honolua Bay. He basically handed me a board and said ‘Let’s go.’ I cut my foot, the board hit me in the face and I got a bloody nose. It was epic.” Now based on the Oregon coast, he has turned his early love of surfing into a career as a surf and adventure photographer and usually surfs four or five days a week. As is clear from his Instagram feed, populated with images of awe-inspiring surfing locations both idyllic and inhospitable, he relishes a challenge. “I love the learning curve of surfing,” he says. “It’s so hard to progress that when you do feel like you’re getting better, it just feels really good.”

His insta-advice: “Just have fun and be willing to make mistakes. Sometimes they’re the best images.”

The Big Kahuna

After catching his first wave at the age of seven (a not unimpressive 34 years ago), Australian photographer Mr Russell Ord has barely taken off the leash since, still hitting the water four times a week. “Margaret River is an amazing place to live and surf,” he says of his home patch, on the southwest coast of Australia, 267km below Perth. “The biggest enjoyment for me now is surfing with my kids and seeing the pleasure they get from the water and the waves,” he says. Although Mr Ord was a late starter on Instagram, it has become an invaluable platform for him to showcase his work, and he hasn’t done half badly, having racked up more than 45,000 followers since he joined last year. Frothy curls of water abound in Mr Ord’s photographs, which capture the organic and often bewitching beauty of the sea in motion.

His insta-advice: “Think outside of the square. Your art form will take time to develop.”

Blue is the Warmest Colour

Mr Morgan Maassen is a professional photographer and film-maker who splits his time between his home in Santa Barbara, California (where he surfs, hikes and spends time with his family) and Los Angeles (which he visits for work and travel). Pushed onto his “first wave on a brilliant summer day” at the age of seven by his dad, Mr Maassen began making short films in high school to document his friends surfing in Santa Barbara before falling in love with photography at the age of 18. “My heart and soul lies with the sea, and surfing is one of the most profound ways to experience it,” he says. Lucky for him, he has been able to translate his passion for surfing and admiration of the sea into a career and has used his Instagram as a means of exhibiting and disseminating his professional work. Although his career is rapidly expanding beyond surfing, Mr Maassen always finds the time to go on a quick surf trip whether at home or abroad. Professionally, he’s had plenty of opportunities to make good memories, not least shooting with surfing legend Mr Kelly Slater in the Pacific Ocean’s Marshall Islands. “We tracked a massive winter swell to a remote wave, where we landed a tiny charter plane on a runway made of coral,” he says. “We paddled out from the runway, and surfed and photographed the best waves either of us had ever seen with our own two eyes. We spent four days there, surfing, free-diving, hiking and enjoying utmost solitude aboard a classic old fishing boat that housed us on that remote atoll.” Sounds nice, right? See it yourself on Mr Maassen’s Instagram feed, notable for its particularly vivid colours (blue, of course, features heavily).

His insta-advice: “Shoot photos every day, of everything. Never limit yourself to one subject.”

The Storyteller

Before photographer Mr Cyrus Sutton was cruising around in his Mercedes Sprinter van, driving from the coast, to the desert, to the mountains in search of the next great shot, he grew up in San Diego. Childhood summers were spent trekking to the beach with his dad in his VW bus, surfboards in tow. Now, Mr Sutton works as a brand ambassador for surf shoe brand Reef while making documentary films and capturing his surf adventures on Instagram. He loves “syncopating his rhythm to something so big” (ie, the sea) and prefers to surf when conditions are prime and the waters are empty. Because he is “basically paid by people to tell stories”, Mr Sutton feels that curating his Instagram is integral to his career. If you’re as intrigued by expeditions through the desert as by a journey into the tunnel of big waves, Mr Sutton’s account will surely have you doing the “double-tap”.

His insta-advice: “Just be creative. There’s room these days for capturing the crispest action or just the moments in between that convey the feeling of it all.”

The Institution

With more than 1,500 posts and nearly a million followers on Instagram, Mr Chris Burkard is one of the most prolific surf and adventure photographers in the business. Always in search of offbeat destinations in an attempt to juxtapose man against nature, he has a penchant for icy terrain and riotous seas. An autodidact, he began shooting at the age of 19, and his career, as well as his interest in surf, really took off during an internship with Transworld Surf in 2008. His feed features surfers tackling angry swells and being dwarfed by giant walls of water. Don’t miss it if you like that overawed, man-vs-nature feeling.

His insta-advice: “Try to create images that are iconic and really capture the uniqueness of the location. The water is a whole different world, so you need to know your camera like the back of your hand.”

The Family Business

Meet Instagram’s incredible brothers Ciotti – the oldest, Kapono, the middle, Nainoa, and the youngest, Makana. Born and raised on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, the trio grew up fishing, diving, paddling and, of course surfing, discovering the sport during a fateful trip to the beach in which they took turns on their mother’s cousin’s Gerry Lopez Lightning Bolt board. “We were all pretty bad at the time,” says Makana, “but I remember having so much fun. I still can’t believe we surfed on that classic board. I’d be really bummed if we had damaged it, but luckily it’s still in good shape hanging on our mum’s wall.” While all three of the Ciotti brothers moonlight as surfers and surf photographers, they all have day jobs – Kapono works as the principal at a local elementary school, Nainoa is a firefighter and Makana is a pilot for Ohana by Hawaiian. Thankfully, flexible work schedules leave them time to hop in the water whenever a craving for salt water hits, and their Instagram account serves as “a really good excuse to have fun and explore Hawaii,” says Makana. If you want to see the sea from above, @threeifbysea gives you views of Hawaii from all angles, including a great number of aerial shots.

Their insta-advice: “Follow other Instagram accounts that inspire you and get you excited to shoot.”