Over the past year, we’ve had some incredible photographers contribute to The Inertia. About a week ago, we ran an interview and photo gallery to congratulate Australian photographer Ray Collins for winning the 2014 Portfolio Challenge, voted by the entire Inertia Community. This week we are bringing to you a similar piece with legendary North Shore photographer and winner of the 2014 Portfolio Challenge (Editor’s Pick), Brian Bielmann. We thought we’d ask Brian a few questions about his philosophies, inspirations, the future, advice for aspiring photographers, and how he adapted to the digitalization of surf photography. These are his answers, along with a bunch of must-see images.
How does it feel to be chosen for the Editor’s Choice in the 2014 Portfolio Challenge?
I was really stoked. My assistant Ben Reed has raved about how cool The Inertia web site is for a while now. When I got your call to submit my work, I did not realize it would turn into winning the Editor’s Choice! So very, very stoked. Thank you!
Where do you find the most satisfaction in photography?
I think one of the biggest thrills is getting on the computer and seeing my shots for the first time. But, of course, the reaction from the rest of the world is also awesome – assuming the reaction is positive.
What advice would you give to aspiring surf photographers?
Well, when I started there were about 50 surf photographers. Now, I kid you not, there are probably 10,000. It’s great for the whole world to have access to so many cool photos for their viewing pleasure, but I think it’s a bit harder to actually make a living as a professional photographer now because everyone’s doing it. But you can still make it happen. There are far more places to send your photos to today – just not as many print magazines anymore. The Internet is replacing print mags for sure. You just have to be determined and clever. Think outside the box.
Do you have a favorite photo in your collection?
Nathan Fletcher during Code Red at Teahupoo for sure.
Being that you started your career using traditional film, how did you adapt with the digitalization of surf photography?
I loved the way it helped my career. I just wasn’t crazy about the amount of people that started shooting the same thing that I was shooting. But that’s progress. It’s technology. I learned to embrace the good during the rough patches in my career.
Well, Art Brewer knows more about photography than 100 new surf photographers combined. That’s the guy I idolize.
What does the future hold for Brian Bielmann?
I’m trying to keep up with all the young fellas by learning a few new tricks and combining ‘em with my experience. Trying to get the best of both worlds. Also, some more traveling this season would be nice. New places this time. For years my strategy has been to hang with the best surfers in the world and try to be where the waves were best. It worked, too. I’ve been at so many historical swells over the years. But now the whole world shows up to these places and everything is on the web the very same day. So I think I’m gonna start trying to just get off the path for while and see what’s been hiding from me all these years. But one thing is fore sure – I’m gonna still keep having fun. That’s really the best and most important part of my plan.
Also, be sure to check out the rest of the entries in the 2014 Portfolio Challenge. And be on the lookout for more incredible photography that will be featured daily in 2015 right here on The Inertia.