My name is Hamish Lawson, I’m 20 years old and currently a student in the UK. I started learning to surf a year ago in Sri-Lanka, before that I had been a keen swimmer; introduced to a number of water sports by my parents; dabbled briefly with sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing and body boarding on holidays to the coast. My passion for photography came alongside a passion for travel, starting when I was 16 and spent a month travelling around Brazil. Following that I have kept taking pictures of everything, always taking my camera on hiking trips or to skate parks and now surf trips and experimenting with different styles and editing. I love to document what I’m doing and where I go and love having a record for myself and others to look back on.
How did you get into Surf photography? I booked a trip to Sri-Lanka just before my 19th birthday, and spent 2 weeks teaching myself to surf in the south of the island, aided by the other surfers in the guest houses there. I wasn’t able to surf during the day however because I was two pale from a UK winter and would burn, so spent the morning and afternoon surfing and afternoons sitting out the back of my guest house photographing the guys surfing on the harder breaks. It just became something that I did when I couldn’t surf. Later that year I spent a month in Hossegor and Seignosse doing the same. Then in September I moved to Swansea in the UK and was finally living close to waves. I enjoy being in the water taking pictures on a good day as much as I do surfing, so I mix and match depending on what’s best for me.
Where’s your favourite place to shoot? That’s difficult because I haven’t been to that many places. It’s really fun when there’s a load of people I know in the water, cause then it can be quite social, and I love letting someone know when I get a great shot; ‘German Right’ in Fuertaventura was great fun for that reason. On the other hand, shooting ‘The Bubble’ in Fuertaventura was epic as well, because I’d never been around that kind of wave before, and I had adrenaline firing the whole time because it was a really heavy wave and I kept daring myself to get into better positions. I still love Sri Lanka though, it’s just an incredibly cool place.
Which is your favourite photograph you’ve ever taken? That’s another really hard question for me because my style and photo’s really depend on the mood of the place or the session, so they’re all different, if you look through my photos of different trips, it’s hard to identify a specific style. I guess my favourite photo would have to capture the mood and how I felt at the time perfectly, it’s not so much about the technically perfect picture, but the feeling of the image and the emotion it reproduces. I guess it would have to be the one from Seignosse. It’s a lifestyle picture, and captures this perfectly sombre wistful mood, the sea and the girl just seem so connected and I think all the different facets of the picture compliment each other, I was so lucky that everything came together. This photo means a lot to me because I feel I really captured just the right feeling of a moment that means a lot to me.
Favourite surfer to shoot? Well they’re aren’t many surfers I consistently shoot with, so I guess it would have to be two friends from university Matt and Rosie. Without them my surf photography would never have been possible, because without a car I’m dependant on lifts to the waves and they’ve been so kind with the opportunities they’ve given me. That’s what surf sessions are to me, those two rattling up in their van, me hopping in and heading out the Gower, they’re really great creative people and have really interesting ideas about what surfing is and what it means to them, so I try and capture that. Matt has a really cool style to his surfing to.
A past surf trip? I guess I have to talk about Fuertaventura. That’s really been my only pure surfing trip. I got invited along by the University surf club to photograph the whole trip and produce a video and we scored so well with the waves. The canaries had been getting pumping waves for months and we were there at the best of it. That trip really allowed me to advance my photography substantially, and I was introduced to completely new conditions and waves on a whole other level to what I was used to seeing. Plus we were there with 30 of our mates so that meant big party surfs and big parties in the evening, it was pretty ridiculous to be honest but a lot of fun.