Behind The Lens With Toby Butler

"I find beauty in the nooks and crannies of places that I love and I get obsessed with portraying the way someone thrives in their sport, culture or surroundings. I like to make images that stand out and don’t just show the subtle beauty of a place but also tell the story that follows."

Hey Toby! For those reading, tell us a little about yourself...

So, my name is Toby Butler. I am 20 year’s old and currently based just outside of Exeter, Devon. I started out with friends, filming each other and the small skate scene in Exeter and sharing a Sony Ericsson phone to do so. I then got more into putting little clips together than actually skating and ended up getting hold of a basic video camera and eventually a half decent DSLR. The scene then kind of died out and that’s when I looked to surfing and started making the trek over to Cornwall with a small and dedicated group of mates. Since then it’s been a whirlwind of Surf, Lifestyle and landscape and I have focused in on capturing stills. Some recent clients include Redbull, Haglofs and Leatherman (see more on Toby's freshly updated website)

Describe your photography in 5 words.

An Impacting, story driven collection.

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

I have always been driven to create things, whether that’s with a can of paint, some wood or a camera. That drive combined with a passion for an active lifestyle and the outdoors has just led me to creating amongst this field and revolving my work around the things that I have.

Where is your favourite place to shoot?

This is a really hard one. I don’t feel like I’ve been at it long enough to say. I thought the few breaks I was lucky enough to come across in Spain this year were really special. I also haven’t come across somewhere that matches Ireland yet. The place, people, and variety make’s me constantly want to head back. Then there’s Cornwall, where I definitely feel most at home, and on its day is has some of the best backdrops I know.

Have you any trips or exciting projects coming up?

At the end of the year I am heading over to NZ, which is where I spent a bunch of my childhood. My girlfriend and I are getting hold of a van and travelling between both Islands for a few months. I plan to be creating work for various brands along the way. We are then heading to Aus for the New Year. I am buzzing to get back over to that side of the world with a camera in my hands this time.

What is your preferred equipment to shoot on?

I currently work with Canon and have shot on a variety of their setups. At the moment my go to is the 7D Mk2 with a 70-200 2.8. I use Aquatech Housing’s when jumping the water.

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

I want viewers to get an urge that pushes them outside of their comfort zone. Whether that’s taking a different route to work or changing their entire lifestyle. Just adding a little bit of curiosity and appreciation towards what the world has got to offer.

Who are some photographers that you admire and respect?

Woody Gooch, Dylan Gordon and James Bowden are a pretty spaced out variety but certainly some of my go to’s for inspiration.

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

I think at the start the most important thing is that you throw your absolute all into every opportunity that comes your way. Go down every potential avenue you find and make the most of every person, client or complete stranger you meet along the way. I believe everything happens for a reason, regardless of whether it’s big or small.

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

Ha! There is a rather long list of people that I would love to meet and shoot with. Linking up with someone like Dave Rastovich and chasing some of the more remote setups in NZ would be a pretty special ending to the year though.



Check out some of Toby's favourite photos and the story behind them

One blurry summer's day in Northern Cornwall

A welcoming commute, unlike many

Putting food on the plate

An early stroll just outside the maddening crowds of Southern France

There's a layby next to this wave that we parked our van in for around a week. This was my favoured morning

I'm afraid sun has become overrated

Long, fast and technical, a winter's dream

Alaska looked inviting for a dip, then we realised where we were

Sat doing nothing more than watching Yosemite fall asleep

Ryan Watts standing tall as the Atlantic unloads onto Irish turf


We highly recommend following Toby on Instagram and checking out his website

Free ride

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