Hannah Prewitt Surf Photographer

Welcome to another episode of Surf Bank's Beyond The Frame where we dive into the captivating world of surf & ocean photography, going beyond mesmerising captures exploring the backstory of many talented photographers.

In this episode we will be hearing from the talented Hannah Prewitt surf photographer originating from London, England. Hannah now shoots in Aus and across the globe capturing spectacular surf shots!

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.

Hannah Prewitt Gallery

Hannah Prewitt Surf Photographer
Hannah Prewitt Surf Photographer
Hannah Prewitt Surf Photographer
Hannah Prewitt Surf Photographer
Hannah Prewitt Surf Photographer
Hannah Prewitt Surf Photographer
Hannah Prewitt Surf Photographer
Hannah Prewitt Surf Photographer
Hannah Prewitt Surf Photographer
Hannah Prewitt Surf Photographer

What Did Your Childhood Look Like?

I grew up in the suburbs of London, England, far away from the ocean. I went to the beach a few times a year if I was lucky, but I always found myself drawn to water. Which for me as a child meant the local swimming pool.

That’s where you could find me every weekend, diving down to the bottom and trying to stay under for as long as possible. I just wanted to be under the water where it was quiet and peaceful. I think this was because my childhood was relatively traumatic.

I grew up in a very unstable, broken home and was constantly anxious. I think the water was the only place that felt like an escape from all that.

What Came First, Surfing or Photography?

Kind of photography, but only just.

I was actually a marine biologist for a long time before getting into surfing or photography, so I had a very basic underwater camera that I could take photos of the things I would see whilst diving.

So technically photography came first, but I wasn’t very good at it!

How Did You Get Into Surf Photography?

I got into surf photography when I first started learning to surf. I was working in the Maldives as a marine biologist at a resort that offered surfing, and befriended one of the surf instructors (who I’m now married to!), and he would take me surfing on my days off when he could.

But often the waves were too big for me so I would go out on the boat and take the surf school’s camera and try to shoot the surfers from the boat.

Shortly after, a world-famous surf photographer Peter ‘Joli’ Wilson arrived at the resort to offer surf photography, and so I was able to learn a lot from him.

This is when I decided that I wanted to buy some decent equipment and he helped me choose exactly what I would need, which is so helpful when you’re a beginner. This is why I shoot Nikon, because he did.

Hannah Prewitt Surf Photographer
Photo By Hannah Prewitt

How Would You Describe Your Photography Style?

I try to make my work unique and appear different to other photographer’s work.

I would describe my style as minimalistic and clean with a bold, tropical flair.

I love negative space and try to create something unexpected, but the main aim with my art is to make the viewer feel calm.

This is why the ocean has always been so important to me because it’s my calming place, so that’s what I’m trying to portray to the viewer.

Where Do You Normally Shoot?

I live in the beautiful surf town of Noosa in Queensland, Australia so this is where I shoot mostly.

We have lots of different options for surfing here and so many amazing surfers. But I also love to shoot anywhere tropical, as I have spent most of my adult life living in the tropics, and this is where I first starting learning photography.

Where Do You Shoot? Water or Land?

I shoot both. My preference would be to shoot in the water as I just love the different perspective it gives you.

You can create images that other people just can’t see with their own eyes. But it is also nice to stay dry and wander around sometimes, so it really depends on the conditions.

What Makes The Perfect Image?

Any image that makes the viewer feel something.

An image that makes you want to stop and stare at it for whatever reason, even if you can’t put your finger on it.

In a world that is now so oversaturated with amazing images, I think we’ve lost our ability to really appreciate a good image when we see one, so if I’m able to make people stop scrolling, well that’s a big feat these days.

Hannah Prewitt Surf Photographer
Photo By Hannah Prewitt

What is Your Post-Processing Workflow?

My workflow now involves using a lot of my own presets, as I’ve built them up over time and it just saves me time editing.

But I am mostly aiming to remove distractions (either through cropping or healing), make the image a bit more punchy and vibrant, and create a mood using colour.

That might look like making it darker and bluer with lots of contrast, or brighter and more luminant. I also like to use black and white to create a clean minimal look sometimes as well.

Honestly, it just depends on my mood and what the subject is. I’m not one of those photographers that only sticks to one particular colour palette, but somehow I’m told that my work is still recognisable as mine.

How Did You Become So Involved In The Surf Scene?

Well my husband is a surf instructor and once I started learning to surf, I just wanted to be surrounded by everything surfing all the time.

When we settled in Noosa, I contacted loads of local surfers through social media and asked to shoot with them and then it all kind of snowballed from there.

Do You Have A Favourite Photographer That Has Inspired You?

Yes my absolute favourite photographer is actually a landscape photographer called Mikko Lagerstedt.

His work is moody, minimal and just awe-inspiring and I remember discovering his work really early on. His subject is the complete opposite of mine – he shoots in freezing Finland – but his style is so unique and has really had a big influence on my photography style too.

What Advice Would You Give To Aspiring Surf Photographers?

Well since I started photography, it feels like there are thousands more surf photographers out there so it can be hard to stand out.

I’d recommend looking outside of surf photography for inspiration and really spend some time figuring out exactly what it is that you love in a photo.

Then use that to create your own unique style rather than trying to emulate other surf photographers.

What's Your Biggest Challenge To Overcome When Shooting?

When shooting in the water, I think the physical conditions are the biggest challenge.

Currents, swimming around for hours, taking sets on the head, keeping your housing port clear – you have all these extra things to think about compared to shooting on land.

But in general, I’d say the biggest challenge is just trusting yourself and your eye. I remember when I first started taking photos, I felt embarrassed to be out with a camera and have people seeing me taking photos because I didn’t feel like I was good enough yet.

As I became more experienced, I started to care less about what people thought because I knew what I was shooting and what the final image would look like.

So I’d say not caring what other people think. Maybe this is only applicable to me as I often shoot on busy beaches with lots of people staring!

Hannah Prewitt Surf Photographer
Photo By Hannah Prewitt

Hannah's Equipment List

Marie Dehayes Camera

Camera & Lenses

"I shoot with a Nikon D750 and either a 50mm or 16-35mm in the water. This is the camera I have a housing for. I also have a Nikon Z6ii camera and 24-70mm lens, 105mm macro lens, and an 80-400mm lens which is what I use for shooting surfing from land."

Hannah's Favourite Shot - Home

Hannah Prewitt Surf Photographer

This photo of my friend Sian.

It was the middle of winter and the water was pretty cold but super clear, and the weather was really overcast and kind of dark.

We had gotten together to shoot a few pieces for Roxy and Sian was brave enough to do some water shots.

The water was flat as a pancake that day and this image in colour is also very flat because of the weather, but I changed it into black and white and it’s like the sky and the water just melt together.

I call this one ‘Home’.

Personal Message

"We all surf for the same reason – to have fun – so be selfless, give someone else a wave and don’t steal anyone else’s joy"

Favourite Surf Spot

Oh gosh, I’ve been fortunate enough to surf some incredible waves. My favourite surf spot would probably be a wave in Sumba called Occy’s left.

It’s a wave that is private to a very exclusive resort and only allows 10 people out at a time so I feel very blessed to have been able to surf there.

Hannah's Future Plans

Well 2024 is lining up to be a pretty great year for me so far. I’ve planned another personal surf trip with my husband, as well as an overseas trip as a photographer.

I’d like to shoot overseas a bit more, but also learning to stay grounded and grateful for the amazing life I have.

Hannah Prewitt Surf Photographer


Instagram is the best place to find me. I have two accounts. You can find my ocean art at @hannahprewittphotography and my commercial portfolio at @hannahprewitt_lifestyle. Just send me a DM 🙂

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Hannah Prewitt Surf Photographer
Photo By Hannah Prewitt

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