Wanna be a wave pool photographer? Here’s a peek inside the life

Mark Dadswell was approached by Urbnsurf to run the wave pool’s photography services a few years ago. When he accepted the position he brought with him more than a decade of photojournalism experience that includes a 15-year stint at Getty Images. Mark told us last year that the best part of his gig is the interaction he gets with the surfers using the park. “You get to meet some very interesting characters and hear some fantastic stories,” he told us. In this installment, we catch up with Mark to find out how the season went in Melbourne throughout the rolling COVID lockdowns.

What was the work-a-day routine at Urbnsurf this year?
Urbn are open 6 am till 9 pm (11 on Friday and Sat evenings), and we start shooting at 6.30 am and finish at 8 pm to avoid shooting at a high ISO. We have cut back on the number of images we put online each day, for a while it was pushing 4000, with better and tighter editing we have cut that back to around 2500 per day

As summer draws to a close, are you looking forward to Autumn/Winter?
Personally not looking forward to winter as I don’t like the cold. From a business perspective not looking forward to it as it means fewer people visiting from Interstate, which means fewer sales.

buck's party at urbnsurf
When groups rent out the park for parties things can get a little strange. It’s the photographer’s job to get all the shots.

Share with us something really strange you encountered at this summer.
Nothing’s strange after the Covid experience we have had here in Melbourne. But we were shut down again for five days with a Covid outbreak in Melbourne. Buck’s party was a bit strange, the pic will explain!

Does anyone ever complain that they rip harder than the photograph suggests – in other words, does the photographer ever get blamed for a dug rail?
No one really complains directly, but you often hear guys talking that the photographer missed the best shot………yep, always someone else’s fault.

You’ve recently added video services, how’s that going?
Video is proving difficult for us, we are putting out a good quality product and people are keen to be in it, but it is difficult to get the video client into the same sessions to make it financially viable. At present, you have to book several weeks in advance so to get 10 people who want video into the same session is nearly impossible. We keep trying!

 Image by Mark Dadswell/SurfChimp
Sometimes the lighting is just perfect, other times the park is open before the sun comes fully up.

All Images by Mark Dadswell/SurfChimp