Surf Videographer Darren McCagh offers his Top Tips for a HIF Clip of the Season Winning Entry

Surfing Updates

We caught up with surf videographer, Darren McCagh, to hear his top tips for a HIF Clip of the Season winning entry, here's what he told us....

TIP #1 - Develop relationships with good surfers.

Darren McCagh

This takes time, but put that time in and eventually you’ll be getting the call up. If you are in the fortunate position to know a few guys that can tear the bags out of it, you’re already well ahead of the game. At the end of the day, if you have a decent surfer who can consistently pull into solid pits, power through turns, or get airborne with ease, and complete each manouver with style and class you’ve already won half the battle. If not, then hope that your guy lucks into bomb of the day or just so happens to complete an insane man turn at a critical moment.

TIP #2- Work with your environment.

You can predict conditions/locations all you like but most likely that clip of the day will come when you’re least expecting it. So when you rock up to a location determine what will work. Is there an awesome backdrop? Where’s the sun? Any foreground elements that will add to the image? What kind of wave is it (long/short,hollow/fat)? Hollow and short, not much of a backdrop- consider getting a water angle etc. Figure out what angle will work best within the location you’re at and what to leave in/out of the shot that will make it look a little more interesting to the viewer. There’s so much content out there you need to try mix it up a little to get noticed.

TIP #3 - Don’t miss the wave of the day.

Turn off the phone, put the blinkers on and keep conversations short with passers by. Always have one eye on the horizon and constantly check your gear. Buttons get knocked (especially in the water or on a ski) and light changes rapidly on a cloudy day. Be as vigilant as you can be so you can be confident that you’ve captured the surfer’s best clip when he/she asks you for it. Keep checking you’ve got the right frame rate, exposure, white balance hasn’t switched to auto etc. I’ve done all these things and still do, no matter how pedantic I get. The secret is to minimise it as much as you can.

TIP #4 - Don’t poach another filmer’s shoot

Poaching a shoot is like me rocking up to a hairdressers with a pair of scissor’s and while the owner is in the John I take to his client’s hair and ask to be paid for my work. If you are not at a location with an organised surfer and happen to randomly get a great shot of someone in the lineup. Approach that surfer and ask if he has a filmer shooting him already. If he does, and that filmer nailed the shot then I’m afraid you’re out of luck. It is that filmer’s right to do as he wishes with that content as he has organised the shoot. In my opinion you have no right to use that clip for competitions, big wave awards, to sell to magazines for DVD mounts etc unless that filmer says ‘no problem…go for it’. Then do as you like. Have some morals and a little respect for the guys that have adhered to TIP #1 and put the time in to develop relationships with good surfers. 

To view more of Darren's work, visit

Photo credits: Russell Ord & Stu Gubson
Tags: Surfing
Category: Surfing Updates

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