How I start my photography session with a kiteboarder.

There are a lot of factors to consider when photographing kiteboarding or kitesurfing. Not only do you need to be prepared for the session, your rider does too. You should always start with a game plan and then adjust based on the conditions. Before my rider sets up their gear we walk the spot and discuss where they will be riding. We go over how far or close they need to be, what tricks they will do, if they are able to stay up wind and what they are most excited about. Stoke is important! You are the session specifically to their level and comfort. It's important that your rider does not feel pressured to do any tricks that they are not 100% comfortable doing. Your main gaol should be to maintain a safe environment.

Things to Consider:

How long can they ride?

Having a rider go out for several hours throwing big tricks is not as common as you might think. Most people that don’t do the sport professionally, will get tired at a faster rate. You should plan your session accordingly. If my rider can do tricks I have them start with the easier ones.  Having them do the tricks they are confident in and then move on to the harder ones allows me to see their style and comfort level.  It can also help ease their nerves.

Trick Trap

Beware of the ‘trick trap’, if your rider isn’t confident in landing their trick don’t spend more than two or three tries on it. They will more than likely start to get frustrated and become more focused on landing it than conserving their energy. If that starts to happen I ask them to do a run past me ‘mowing the lawn’ looking at the camera. This will more than likely get them back on track. A photo session is not the time to practice a trick they haven't landed before.

A lot of tricks that are fast and flashy don’t always translate into photography the way you may hope. No one will know that they rotates three times in a photograph, that's where videography comes in. Having simplistic tricks that will pop against the background is always a good idea. Mix it up and do things from several angles.

Upwind or Downwind? (flat water)

This depends a lot on the person! For me, I can usually gauge where to place my rider compared to the wind after seeing them start to ride. I always have them start downwind of me when I'm in the water. I also make sure to wear a helmet. It's important to make sure that you protect your noggin! Once I see them ride I may have them do one ride by upwind of me if they can keep their ground. You don't want someone who gets nervous or doesn't have the skill set riding upwind of you! That can become dangerous if they accidentally run into you.

If I am photographing a professional kiteboarder, then I will most likely allow them to ride around me. The more you work with the same rider you will become comfortable with each other's abilities and know limitations.

Photographing from water or land?

There are a couple of things I look at when deciding if I will photograph from water or land. For instance, I may not want to hop in the water right away if the rider can't stay upwind and the current is going in the opposite direction of the wind. I would most likely shoot from land and move with my rider downwind. I look at the factors and make a decision that will be the most efficient and safe. Taking photos from the water is my favorite so if conditions allow I try to make that happen.

Take photos of setup/lifestyle!

I always try to take photos of my kiters while they are setting up and post-session. Don't forget that these are great moments to capture, that highlight the sport and community. These are gems that can easily be forgotten.

Overall have fun and stay safe!