In reviewing my work this module and selecting my final 20 images for my Work In Progress portfolio, I have tried to keep in mind the aims of my project; to show an authentic view of female surfers in the UK – that they are not all the kind of women that fit the surfer-model formula shown in brand advertising. I have also tried to provide an authentic look at what it is like to surf in the UK; contending with the cold air and sea temperatures, the wind, the requirements for thick wetsuits, along with wetsuit boots, hoods, and gloves, as well as showing that surfing in the UK is far from the tropical paradise in advertising, but that UK surfing involves getting ready in car parks, and walks through streets to reach the beach.
I have also tried to keep in mind my desire to use a combination of portraits, environmental portraits, action images, and still life images, to provide a more rounded view of female surfers and UK surfing, as I feel that is not something using only one form of photograph subject/style would deliver.
I chose to include four images of five women I photographed this module; three colour images of their surfing life/process/conditions/actually surfing, and one of each of them in a more formal portrait style photograph in black and white. As I found looking at the work of other surf photographers the black & white images provide a timeless aspect to the photographs. Additionally they connect to the origins of the documentation of surfing; from the early drawings of native Hawaiians surfing made by the ship’s artist on the HMS Discovery in the 1700’s (Mansfield 2011), to the images of the pioneers of modern day surfing from the 1920 and 1930s (Heimann 2004). I wanted to include these black & white images as a reference to where these women are in relation to the history of surfing and use the timeless aesthetic to reference the longevity of the sport of surfing as well as the history of women in surfing.
I hope that the execution of my aims has been successful, and does show an authentic view of female UK surfers through the combination of different photographic styles (portraits / still-life images etc.). I feel there is still a risk that the project is merely inviting further judgement on what women look like. But I hope that by including images of them surfing, and images that focus on, for example, wetsuit boots or gloves, the message conveyed is about who female surfers are and what UK surfing is, rather than just what female surfers look like.
HEIMANN, J. 2004. Surfing Vintage Surfing Graphics. Köln: Taschen GmbH
MANSFIELD, R. 2011. The Surfing Tribe A History of Surfing in Britain. Newquay, UK: Orca Publications