5 Questions With The Judges Of The 2013 Surfline Photo Challenge

The winning Surfline Photo Challenge 2012 shot by Matt Clark (Photo courtesy of Surfline)

The perfect photograph exists only subjectively through the eyes of individuals. Composition is king, though light, color and subject are all crucial elements of visual aesthetics. Every month Surfline asks followers, "Give us your best shot." The trusted Huntington Beach-based surf resource, with the help of its audience, then selects 10 monthly winners. These lucky talents score free one-year Surfline premium memberships—valued at $70—and are entered into the annual running for the Surfline Photo Challenge, which hooks one supreme photog up with the $1,000 grand prize.

Now in its third year, the contest lies in the hands of three esteemed judges: official judge and legendary lensman Aaron Chang, along with Surfline's Jeremiah Klein and Billy Watts. We caught up with the trio to find out what they're looking for in 2013. 

Main & PCH: What do you really want to see this year: action shots or dreamscapes like last year's winning Indonesia tunnel photo by Matt Clark?

Aaron Chang: I look first for fresh ideas. Photos that take a traditional set of compositional rules and bend the rules to create a new idea.

Jeremiah Klein: Personally, I'm a dreamer, so the more dreamy the better. Last year's winning photographer not only captured a beautiful moment in time, he did it when the light was magical. It's all about capturing light.

Billy Watts:  I just want to see an amazing image. Last year's winner just had so many elements going on that it made it a clear winner, but if there was a guy in the barrel or doing an air, it could have been better.  

Photo by Matt Clark, Surfline Photo Challenge 2012 winner (Photo courtesy of Surfline)

What elements do you look for in "the perfect shot"?
AC: Concept, composition, color, emotional impact.
JK: Special moments in special light with composition and vision. 
BW: Composition, color and lighting are the most important for me. A great background or foreground doesn't hurt either. And if it's an action shot, it needs to be peak action combined with all of these elements. 
Do you think a photog in Huntington Beach has the same chance of winning as a photog in a more exotic land?
AC: Yes, great photos can be made in any location.
JK: Yes because the waves in Huntington have the potential for capturing incredible surf images. Also, no because the best day of the year at Huntington might happen when you are still at home just waking up. That said, you really have to be on it and take advantage of those windows of opportunity no matter where you live.
BW: Yes, you can take an amazing photo anywhere. It might take more persistence and determination to get a shot in Huntington as opposed to Indonesia, but it definitely can be done. 

Surfline Photo Challenge 2012 runner-up by Carlos Vilas (Photo courtesy of Surfline)  

 What advice would you give Huntington Beach locals toying with the idea of rising to the challenge?

AC: Know your craft, know the standards of the competition, know your competitors, trust your gut.

JK: Shoot first light and last light. Look through your lens and see everything you are capturing in the frame, then ask yourself is this composition and potential moment worth taking a photo of.

BW: Take a look at the work of Chris Sardelis. He has taken some breathtaking photos from the pier shooting south at first light. You just have to be motivated and determined, but Huntington Beach can be extremely photogenic, especially during this time of the year.

What do you love most about Huntington Beach? 

AC: Its history and legacy as "Surf City, USA."

JK: Is this a trick question?

BW: Despite it being fairly crowded, there are still huge stretches of beach where you can surf with just you and your friends in the water. 

The winner of the Surfline Photo Challenge 2013 will be announced on January 30, 2014. Happy snapping, HB! 



International Surfing Museum Reopens With Rad Remodel And Surf 'Famers'

Huntington Beach Dog Halloween Costume Contest Features Sharknado, E.T. And A Delicious Banana Split