Behind The Lens With Gary Knights

Hi Gary - for those reading, tell us a little about yourself...

I’m based in Bournemouth, on the South Coast of England. My photography journey started circa 20 years ago, I was on a surf trip to the Canary Islands and bumped into Alex Williams whilst he was on a photo shoot for Surfers Path. I was taking photos on a friend’s camera in the water and started talking to him about taking photographs for the magazines etc… a few months later I bought my first 35mm film camera and started shooting, Carve surfing magazine started publishing my photographs and within a year I was a regular contributor to both this magazine and Three Sixty bodyboard magazine.

How would you describe your photography in 5 words?

Surf, Waves, Freediving, Adventure, Art.

What are some of your passions that influence your photography style?

From a young age I was always around the ocean, activities with my family such as fishing, boating and swimming were just the norm for me growing up on the South Coast; this naturally lead on to surfing around the age of eleven. My world changed at this time and this obsessional sport/ lifestyle consumed my life in everyway. I started collecting surfing magazines and was in awe of the beautiful photographs from around every corner of the globe, certain photographers such as Alex Williams, Ted Grambeau, and Brian Bielmann started to influence my thinking of waves, surfing and travel and their images laid the foundations (although I didn’t realise at that time) for my own photography 10 years later.

Where is your favourite place to shoot?

My favourite place to shoot is anywhere challenging! Recently I was in Hawaii and on my bucket list was to take some shots at Pipeline, which I did. It was so amazing and the power of the surf was incredible! I much prefer being in the water shooting than on land. Hossegor in France is also one of my favourite places to shoot and great when the Pro Tour takes place in September as there is always something or someone to shoot.

Have you any trips or exciting projects coming up?

I would like to go to the Maldives later in the year to get some freediving photos and see what the waves have to offer and maybe down to France in the summer. I am also working on a major project at the moment, details of which I will be revealing later in the year.

Awesome! What is your preferred equipment to shoot on?

I have always used Canon cameras and lenses for the last 20 years; my current cameras are the EOS 5D Mark IV and EOS 5D Mark III and have lenses ranging from 15mm to 600mm. When shooting in the water I use Aquatech water housings.

Is there anything you'd like viewers to take away from your work?

I would like them to see something they may not be able to see for themselves, a wave that they would never swim under, the small details such as bubbles and light underwater, sea creatures that can only be seen in certain places. I would like to be able to inspire people with my photography, with my personal outlook on the incredible locations and interactions of nature that I’ve been so privileged to witness.    

Who are some photographers that you admire and respect yourself?

I do admire many photographers’ work; instagram is jammed packed with amazing photographers… Ben Thourard is one of them. Any guys that swim out at places like Pipe and Teahupoo on big days are the people I respect the most, and it’s not just men - Sarah Lee and Christa Funk also deserve recognition! 

What tips or advice would you give to someone wanting to get into photography?

Do your own thing! Don’t get too bogged down with other peoples can be counter productive. Set yourself goals and projects no matter how big or small. And if your work is good enough to be used in magazines don’t give it away for free!

If you could shoot with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Sorry for the cliché answer but it would have to be Kelly Slater at the reefs here in Dorset!

Read on to find out the story behind some of Gary's favourite shots...

These two body surfers would bob around the inside at Pipeline patiently waiting for waves that had no surfers on, gliding along waves gracefully just feet above the uneven reef, some of the caves down there are big enough to get cars into! Getting washed into them is not a good option!

The lone figure of Kelly Slater walking towards the paddle out spot at Pipleline on Christmas day 2016, I was the only person down at the waters edge and managed to get a few photos, a hi and head nod from him before his mammoth paddle out that swept him 400 metres down the beach!

There were hundreds of people surfing Pipeline on Christmas Day, but only a handful that stood out, Jamie O’Brien was one of them!

Unknown surfer getting a good one at Pipe whilst another gets ready to duck dive, I love this angle when taking photos under the water.

Sunset session on the North Shore, Hawaii.

Miles Lee Hargreaves, Lakey Peak Sumbawa.

Pipeline true to its name.

Lakey Peak is one of my favourite places to surf, Its iconic towers watching over the peak. Most of the time its super busy but its still possible to get sessions virtually to yourself! Here Halik Lakey makes the most of a quiet day and boosts on a small inside section.

A surfer pushes out the back of a wave at Pipeline to avoid a heavy beating on the reef. The impact of the powerful wave makes his contorted face look like jelly.

Miles Lee Hargreaves at Lakey Peak, Sumbawa. Miles has done so well to reach where he has in the UK scene, Originally from Bournemouth he started competing against the Cornish at a young age, chipping away in every competition that he could, battling against the best in the Country slowly getting better and better. In the last few years he has become one of England’s elite surfers. Now living in Bude amongst some of the very best surfers in the UK, Miles has a good base to push his surfing above and beyond.  

Keep up with Gary's work below!

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