Behind The Lens With Morgan Maassen


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

My name is Morgan Maassen, I'm a 26 year old photographer from Santa Barbara, California. I started shooting video when I was 13 years old with the family camcorder, after a surfing accident saw me out of the water for a month. From there, I consistently saved up through a plethora of odd-jobs to invest myself more into making films about surfing, traveling, art, my friends and our adventures growing up. At the age of 18, I decided to try shooting stills to accompany my videos, and I fell in love immediately. I began shooting anything and everything I could amongst my schedule of school and work. After taking some time to travel, I started receiving job offers via my website & blog, and made the switch to being a full-time photographer. Now, I am fortunate enough to spend my time equally between filmmaking and photography, working with brands such as Apple, Mercedes Benz, Corona, National Geographic, Outside Magazine, and the New York Times. I spend as much time as possible on the road, both for work and pleasure, as I'm always trying to shoot something, across the spectrum of mediums. When I am home, all my free time is dedicated to surfing, hiking, tennis, art, and my dog Moose. 

Describe your photography in 5 words.

My curiosity of the world.

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

Filmmaking, art, anthropology, and travel. I spent my teenage years heavily obsessed with filmmaking and art, and the two inspire my on every level in my photography. I took some college classes upon leaving high school, mostly based around cultural anthropology, philosophy and art history... all of which consistently inspire me to travel and experience the world. 

Where is your favourite place to shoot?

Australia for just how other-worldly its beauty and ruggedness can be. Tahiti is the pinnacle of perfection, with crystal clear water and stunning mountains. Also, the ancient villages and rolling hills of the Basque Country in France have always made my heart sing.

Have you any trips or exciting projects coming up?

I'm about to embark on a two-month journey around the world, following a piece of plastic pollution being gathered, recycled, and re-designed into a consumer product. I'll have more to share on that shortly! Also, working on a film clip with Stephanie Gilmore that we shot in Hawaii this last December. 

What is your preferred equipment to shoot on?

I shoot the majority of my work on my Nikon D4s with a 50mm F/1.4. for personal projects, I also love using my dad's old Nikkormat FTN 35mm SLR. For video (and now some stills as well), I use a Red Weapon and Nikon 14mm f/2.8.  

What would you like viewers to take away from your work?

I hope to parley my curiosity in the world, my love for the ocean, and respect and interest for other cultures.

Who are some photographers that you admire and respect?

One of my closest friends, Will Adler, inspires me to no end. He's several years older than me, and has helped me grow immensely as a photographer, artist, and human.

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

I learnt photography by shooting anything and everything I could point my lens at. While i had no formal training and struggled with a lot of the technical elements of photography, I saw tremendous passion and opportunity arise out of exploring all subjects, weather, styles, etc. 

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

Basquiat or Picasso. I'd love to do a studio visit, and just be a fly on the wall during their day-to-day lives. Not so much for the photos I'd get, but just to watch them be. 

 

CHECK OUT SOME OF MORGAN'S FAVOURITE PHOTOS AND THE STORY BEHIND THEM...

A scorching summer day at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia.

Trevor Gordon, cruising in the outer atolls of Fiji. I've never seen the ocean glow like this before, moments before the sky opened up and it began dumping rain.

Rincon, my home break, on a freezing winter evening. Even in our winter time we are often subjected to smaller surf, but spectacular sunsets and perfect longboarding waves are still some of my favorite evenings to share with friends.

Sunrise in Fiji. I had rallied a group of America's best young surfers to go score an incredible swell for Surfer Magazine. This morning, between waves, they all sat and chatted as the sun rose behind their backs, so i dove down to get a shark's perspective.

Kelly Slater, peering out of the Indies Trader deep in the South Pacific. After a morning of world-class waves, we had just eaten lunch when the wind switched and the surf became absolutely perfect. Kelly watched for about 5 minutes to decide what board to surf, before we went out again for one of the best sessions of our lives.

Kyle Albers, sliding through the cove at Rincon. A local fixture, Kyle shapes his own surfboards, which are often of crazy sizes and colors. This evening, he was drawing incredible lines on a little orange soap box he had made just prior.

I spent a lot of my youth "stealth camping" on the side of the roads of Central California with friends to score waves. With so little buildings and towns along the coast, the sky always glows incredibly bright with stars. 

Mexican seascapes.

A lone wave breaking out to sea in Northern Australia. I waited 3 days for this shot of a distant reef/seamount that would break flawlessly for a split second, before mushing out back into the deep water. After 3 days of hovering on the beach, i finally caught this wave through my telephoto lens, against the backdrop of a massive squall. Seconds later, it was pelting rain, as i sprinted with my gear back to the car.

Study of hydrodynamics in Barbados.

Nole Cossart, reflecting. I grew up surfing with Nole, and spend a lot of time shooting him in and out of the water. This was taken on a massive, lonely beach in Northern California, moments before he paddled out.

Sage Erickson, duck diving in clearest water i've ever seen, in the Marshall Islands.

WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND FOLLOWING MORGAN BELOW

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