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Ex-fireman turns into award-winning ocean photographer

5 years ago

Russell Ord used to be a rugby league player and a fireman before becoming an award-winning ocean & lifestyle photographer. He found his passion through adventure and the discovery of the untouched, unseen wilderness. We featured a collection of his images on the @worldphotorg feed.


You were a Rugby League player and fireman, how did you become an award-winning ocean and lifestyle photographer?

I stopped being a full-time fireman roughly four years ago and now just an avid watcher of the game (rugby league). It took me a long time to gather the courage to give up the fire-brigade and become a full-time professional photographer. I wanted to make sure I was at a skill level that could sustain a business, and keep clients happy.



Where are you based? Do you take your photos always in the same area?

I am based in Margaret River, Western Australia; however, my work takes me all over the world. The last few years I have incorporated workshops/experiences for a company called Vagabond Photographic, that have been in some fantastic places such as Tahiti, Fiji and the Mentawai Islands (Indonesia).


Tell us about the series of images we featured.

As you can see, most of my work is ocean-based-I love being in and around the sea documenting anything from surf action and lifestyle to portraits. My favorite type of work is photographing people’s stories - that's where 99% of my inspiration comes from.



Can you explain to our audience a bit about how you take the water shoots?

Learning the art of photography is a far quicker process than being comfortable in the ocean and in particular swimming in giant waves. Combining camera skills with ocean knowledge is the key to taking great surf/ocean images from within the water. All my camera equipment are encased in Aquatech waterproof housing, and I swim out into the surf using a pair of swim fins. Like surfing, you start in small waves and progress over the years as your skills develop.


What does photography mean to you?

The more I travel and experience the world, the more of an understanding I have for other cultures, people and their environments plus I learn a lot about myself - the positives and negatives. Photography is the vehicle that allows such a life.


How do you find your passion through adventure and the discovery of the untouched/unseen wilderness?

A lot of my passion comes from "projects of purpose"; environmental, humanitarian, educational, and acknowledging the art of giving, such as you can see in my work with the Wunambal Gaambera People and Uunguu Rangers in the far north of Western Australia. You can see more of that work here. Apart from being a huge learning curve and experience, my imagery is being used to "make a difference". This is my main driving force at this stage of my career.