Eleanor Grace: Surf Photographer

Beyond The Frame

Welcome to another episode of Surf Bank's Beyond The Frame where we dive into the captivating world of surf and ocean photography, going beyond mesmerising captures exploring the backstory of many talented photographers. In this episode we will be hearing from Eleanor Grace a passionate surf photographer who mainly shoots the west coast of Jersey, USA. Beyond the frame aims to inspire and inform future surf photographers and ocean lovers being your backstage pass to detailed insights from the minds behind stunning surf shots.

Eleanor Grace Gallery

What Came First, Surfing or Photography?

Photography came first, then surfing, then surf photography!

How Did You Get Into Surf Photography?

It was more of a stumble into surf photography over anything else. I have always enjoyed taking photos but never imagined finding a niche like I have. I was into photography and into surfing but hadn't thought to combine the two until I took my camera on a beach walk while my dad surfed and decided to snap a few photos of him and the other surfers. From there I was hooked and I guess you could say the rest is history.

Where Do You Normally Shoot?

I typically shoot on the west coast of Jersey as the long expanse of St. Ouen's bay is home to a huge variety of breaks. However, occasionally some of the less well known breaks in little coves and bays around the island work and I'll shoot there as well.

Photo By Eleanor Grace

Where Do You Shoot? Water or Land?

Typically I shoot on land as my equipment is much better suited to that but, I have just started shooting in the water so I'm excited to start looking for new angles and perspectives.

What Makes The Perfect Image?

I don't think there is ever an image that will be perfect as quite often you'll find the small imperfections are what make it so good. A really good photo evokes feeling, especially a surf photo. My favourite photos are the ones that tell a story and make the person viewing it feel something. Maybe even give them a share in the excitement, chaos or serenity of the captured moment. A picture of one of the locals pulling out of a slightly above average barrel with a huge smile on their face will top a pristine barrel photo from a worlds class break any day in my books.

How Did You Become So Involved In The Surf Scene?

My Dad was the one who first got me into surfing and had me on a board at 4 years old. It took a very long time to get me surfing regularly but about 6 years ago I started getting more into surfing and quickly became rather obsessed with it. His persistence paid off eventually and I now either surf or take photos of the surf every chance I get. I also started to get to know lots of the local surfers out in the line up, many of them have played a part in getting me out there and only adding to my love of all things surfing.

Do You Have A Favourite Photographer That Has Inspired You?

There has been so many photographers over the years that have inspired me, however there are a few who's work has had a lasting impression on me and continues to inspire me. Thomas Lodin, Seth Hughes and Sebastian Zanella have been in that few for longer than I can remember. Thomas Lodin's earthy colours and close up angles never fail to amaze me. Seth Hughes' imaginative and playful videography is an art form in itself. Then Sebastian Zanella's use of shadow and deep colours evokes so much emotion and presence in his photos. All have such a unique and individual style that really stands out amongst an ever increasing number of photographers and videographers.

What's Your Biggest Challenge To Overcome When Shooting?

Self doubt and self criticism is by far the biggest challenge I've had to overcome. As much as I love seeing and being inspired by other creators it also brings the tendency for me to compare and criticise my work against others. I have often found myself harshly scrutinizing my photos down to the smallest details in an attempt to get myself to improve and start producing better work; it's almost driven me to the point of giving up photography all together. Overcoming that inner critic and fear of not being good enough for the world of photography has been, and still is, very difficult but the reality is this only holds you back and progress will come naturally. Not every photo needs to be your best and try to view your own photos through the same eyes you use to judge other's.

Photo By Eleanor Grace

Eleanor's Equipment List

Camera & Lenses

Camera wise I typically switch between a Nikon D5100 and a Sony A6300. I like the rugged build of the Nikon, I know it can stand up to some rough weather when needed! The Sony however is much better for video and allows me to refine my settings better when I'm wanting to really work the light. I use a 70-300mm lens with the Nikon and a very similar one on the Sony for longer distance beach shots, then some slightly smaller lenses when I don't quite need all the zoom.

Water Housing

I also have a Seafrogs salted line surf housing for my Sony which I'm slowly getting used to taking in the water for surf and marine life photography, as well as a Nikonos V for my in water film photography.


A good wetsuit is an absolute must especially with Jersey's cold water. It can get down to 6 degrees through the winter and we often have a gale force freezing wind. I struggled for ages to find the perfect wetsuit for all water activities but Srface has now been my go to for the past 2 years their wetsuits are so warm, super comfortable and last much longer than other suits I've had. I can be in the water for hours mid February regardless of the conditions and still come out toasty warm!

Eleanor's Favourite Shot Taken

I remember taking this shot very well. I'd pulled up to a cafe's to grab lunch on a stormy winter's day about 2 years ago. The swell was a good 3 metres and the wind was gusting over 60mph onshore making it almost un-surfable; or at least so I thought. I only happened to have my camera in the back of the car as I had used it the day before and wasn't intending on using it at all due to the weather. Then out of the blue a well known, and very talented, local surfer Matt Chapman chucks on a wetsuit and runs into the chaos of white water. It was only after seeing him pull off a beautiful cutback on a monster of a wave I quickly grabbed my camera and hunkered down on the beach to try grab a shot or two. I didn't come out with many but the few I did I love very much. This specific one makes what was a wild and windy day appear almost calm for a moment. The small peak of sunshine after a rather torrential downpour of rain and slight lull in the breaking waves, with the lone surfer doing his best to navigate what is coming.

Favourite Shot By Eleanor Grace

Personal Message

Be a bit kinder to one another, support each other and create a line up environment you'd be happy to paddle out in if you were there for the first time.

Eleanor's Future Plans

Travelling more is the rather vague but definite plan for the moment. As much as I love the local spots I really crave adventure and new, hence why I'd like to travel and discover new places. We're really close to mainland France (only 14 miles off the east coast of the island) and the UK so we've got some world class waves pretty much on our doorstep but going further afield and seeking out some more tropical weather seems like a good idea. Shooting with more women surfers is another plan for the near future. It's only recently Jersey has started to develop a larger group of women who surf and when I started surfing I can remember days when I was the only girl out there. Surfing with and photographing women who surf inspires me so much. It makes me so happy to see more young girls out in the surf alongside those who have been there for years, it creates such a different feeling in the water. I'd also love to start working properly with some surf brands. Specifically ones that are trying to create more sustainable products for surfers and embracing a more eco-friendly approach. Finisterre are pushing some really great products and concepts. Then smaller brands like July wetsuits, Dolphin Love Swimwear and Winki Suits continue to embrace slow fashion, thoughtfully designed products and ethical production which I absolutely love.

Follow @eleanor_grace_photography

You can keep up to date with Eleanor's new projects and recent captures on her Instagram, alongside viewing her website found here

Do You Want To Be Involved In Beyond The Frame?

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Photo By Eleanor Grace

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