Location: San Diego, CA
During a surfing trip to Hawaii when he was just a teenager, Todd Glaser picked up his first camera, a Canon EOS A2 with a 15mm fisheye lens and a Dale Kobetich underwater housing. Early on, he was able to combine his love of photography and the ocean, getting close-up views of some of the world’s most amazing waves and the surfers who ride them. Now he makes a living chasing the swells as a staff photographer for Surfer magazine. Glaser’s big-wave images have appeared on the magazine’s cover three times and counting. In 2009, the former pro body-boarder won Surfer‘s Poll Photo of the Year.
I went to school at the Brooks Institute of Photography from 2005 to 2008 where I graduated with a BFA in Commercial Advertising.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned either from a teacher or mentor?
Don’t be a jerk, save your work! But seriously, when I started shooting digital, it took me a while to figure that one out. I love film, and as long as I kept the negatives in a safe place, they wouldn’t "magically disappear."
What was your first job?
I worked in a surf shop for 5½ years while I started shooting. Then I worked as a freelance photographer for a number of surf magazines before becoming a staff photographer for Surfer during the winter of 2008.
What advice would you give to a photographer who is still in school?
Have fun and study hard. The teachers have a lot to teach, and the students who sit next to you are going to be your friends and colleagues as you grow together once you’re out of school. School is a great foundation to really experiment and push yourself, both technically and creatively. Once you’re out of school, it’s still very important to constantly grow and push yourself.
What inspires you about photography?
Using a series of constants that I know (exposure, timing, location) to capture the unexpected.
What makes you go out and shoot?
Being in the right place at the right time and being able to capture that moment to share with others. As a surf photographer, I’m fortunate enough to have a front-row seat to some of the best surfing, waves and athletes that this sport has. Being able to give an insider’s perspective is something that I’m so lucky to be part of and share with others.
What do you like best about the whole process?
I like seeing a swell on the maps, figuring out where it’s going to have the best light, the waves, the tide, and gathering a crew to document the surfing. The travel, journey, preparation and celebration after the sessions make for the best moments.
How long have you been shooting?
I got my first camera when I was 15. It was a Canon A2 with a 15mm fisheye lens and Dale Kobetich housing.
What kind of camera equipment do you use?
Currently, I’m using a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, Canon EOS 7D, Hasselblad 500C, Rollei B35 and a Del Mar housing for the Mark IV. Lenses include a Canon fisheye, EF 17-40mm ƒ/4L USM, EF 50mm ƒ/1.4 USM, EF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8L IS USM and EF 400mm ƒ/5.6L USM. I try to keep my bag light, but sometimes I bring a 600mm depending on where I’m going and the image I’m after. The 600mm is a pain to travel with, but works really well for tight action images.
What’s your favorite piece of Canon gear?
The EF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8L IS USM lens because it gives me the most range out of any of the lenses I own and works well in the water, on a boat, or on land for portraits, lineups and scenic shots.
To see more of Todd Glaser’s work, go to www.tglaser.com.