WavePoolMag Photographer Series Episode 1, Rob Henson of BSR
Digital pixels are free and easy compared to the film days of shooting a 36-frame-roll, changing film (and possibly missing the set of the day) then trudging off to get it developed – never really knowing if you had scored the goods.
In a way, wave pools are to surfing what digital is to photography. Yes, it’s so much easier, but certain things are lost – the excitement of opening a Fotomat envelope of developed images or likewise never knowing what the surf will be like. Ocean surfing, like the fine art of film photography, can never be replaced. But in our day-in-day-out world, we like to hit the easy button. Wave pools and digital shots do just that.
So how does a photographer create magic when everything’s handed to them on a platter? It still involves work. Long hours, perfecting angles, dodging random weather patterns and as many hours spent editing as shooting can discourage an avid lenseperson. Yeah, it’s not all that easy.
As part of our WavePoolMag Photog Shop series, we spoke with Instagram heavy Rob Henson to find out what a day-in-the-life is like shooting at the Lone Star State’s favorite wave pool.
How did you get this job?
I’ve been a Texas Surf Photographer for about 15 years and when I heard BSR was about to open, I just started showing up on weekends. I had met Cheyne Magnusson a number of years prior and he kind of gave me a warning when certain people were coming to town. At the time I had been working in Logistics for Siemens Energy. I got laid off in August 2018 and Stuart Parsons (BSR Owner) messaged me and said: “why don’t you come up here and be our staff photographer?” It’s a freelance gig, but BSR promotes me as “their guy” in exchange for some social media content. So in a sense, with Stuart’s blessing, I just kind of showed up and made it my gig.
Run us through a typical day as a photographer at BSR Surf Resort
A typical day for me at BSR starts at about 7 am. Private sessions usually run from 7-9am and then regular sessions start at 9 am. I’ll shoot anywhere from 5-10 hours depending on how many booking I have. I try to shut it down between 8 and 9 pm, then the real fun begins….editing! So each day I’m here can be an 8-9 hour day or turn into a 14-16 hour day really quick.
What is the best part about this job?
Meeting all the amazing surfers from around the world. You literally have no idea who is going to walk through the doors. I’ve met some incredible people and built new friendships from the people I’ve met here. The surf is almost always firing (although thunderstorms can cause flat spells) and the vibe in the water is awesome.
What is the worst part of this job?
Editing, editing, editing…I love my job, but I’ll have days when I shoot all day and not get anything edited at the end of the night. The next morning I wake up and start stacking photos on top of the photos I took the previous night. It’s a non-stop monster that keeps growing!
Share with us something people don’t know about the BSR wave pool.
I think the one comment I see a lot of is “they just crank it up for the pros.” When the pros warm up on the three-wave set, it’s the same three-wave set our regular session surfers see. They do get access to the Air Section, The Wedge wave and Double Barrel waves (Private Session Waves). It’s tough to run those waves for the regular sessions because they are one or two wave sets. It would cut down the waves-per-hour tremendously. Also would add to that, the regular wave that we run can provide Barrel sections and some air opportunities IF you know where to look!
Are you pushing yourself to find new angles and perspectives, or do you stick to the same surefire shooting places?
For my regular day-to-day sessions, I make sure I get my clients covered with content before I start changing angles. I know in the mornings I’ll be on the walk shooting and the afternoons are mainly from the beach. For the pros that come to town, that’s when I start working on different perspectives. Whether it’s wading into the surf lagoon or shooting on top of the machine, I’m always looking to shoot something different and figure out what works and what doesn’t work.
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