Today on the Photographers spotlight series we take a look at the ever talented Dylan Biggerstaff. We dive in and find out what drives the 15 year old to produce some stunning Photography at his Favorite beaches around the Orange County Coastline we also find out his favorite Equipment and just what he likes to get into between swells.
where are you from, your school etc etc? I’m a 15 year old photographer born on August 7, 2000. I have grown up in Costa Mesa my whole life and don’t see any signs of moving away. I have been homeschooled by my parents my whole life and absolutely love it! It gives me a lot of free time at the end or beginning of the day to go out for a session. In 2013 a group of my friends got together and formed our bodysurfing/surfing crew, the OC Crew. We are currently working on a documentary.
My setup is pretty basic for the water.
When I’m not surfing or taking photos, I am up to my usual shenanigans with the boys in the crew, or doing homework. I do a lot of fishing as well. Oh, and I can’t forget the Slurpees with Augie.
What inspires me to go out and shoot is the drive to get something different and beautiful, and my friends inspire me the most. We’ve all seen that perfect Teahupoo barrel from the inside; I go out and try to make something different than a perfect barrel, although they are always welcome. The great friends and fellow watermen that I have push me and inspire me the most; I would not be anywhere close to where I am now if it was not for them.
It was in 2012 I started taking photos. Photography has always been a big part of my family, so it sort of came naturally I guess. I started seeing all these great photos of waves and barrels, so I got a Gopro and tried it out for myself and really liked the results. I started out photographing my friends bodysurfing and surfing and then I started shooting just the waves as well.
My favorite kind of wave to photograph is a big and heavy shore-break slab, I’ve only had handful of sessions with these types of waves and they are the best! The stoke you get from being sucked over the falls by a 6 foot wave with 4 different lips is awesome. For shooting my friends riding I would like a nice A-frame barrel breaking on the outside. My favorite place and dream wave to photograph is the North Shore of Oahu and Keiki Beach. I’ve been to the North Shore a couple times but hopefully when I go back there will be some waves at Keikis.
A moment in the water I will remember forever was this fall just when school was starting back up. My friend Augie Cunningham and I were out bodysurfing at a local spot with great waves and nobody in the water around us for miles. After a couple of hours Augie told me this, “It doesn’t get better than this, two friends enjoying great waves alone.” I will remember that session forever.
Well, my favorite shot came about in December 2014, on a basically flat day at Cylinders in Newport Beach. The report said it was going to be 1-2 feet, no waves. I decided to just go out for dawn patrol and see what I could make of the conditions. I hopped in the water and waited for about an hour to see if anything worthwhile would come in. Next thing I knew a little 3 foot wave started to roll in, so I got in position and laid on the sand ready to get the shot. I got the sequence and decided to wait another hour to see if there was more… nope. Loaded the SD card into the computer and hoped that something good was going to show up on my screen. It was well worth it because I got the best shot of my shot career so far. Everything aligned perfectly.
Luckily I have not had any bad experiences in big shorebreak yet. But the scariest moment in the water for me was on 12-12-2015 Tower 5 Huntington City Beach. My good friend Joey Nickerson and I went out for a drift in probably 10 foot waves. Our first drift went fine and we got some nice bombs, so we decided to go and drift again. Once we got out I smartly decided to take the first wave of the set because it had the cleanest face, bad decision. What followed was a 10 wave 8 foot set to the head drifting south about 2 towers in the process, much to my buddy’s amusement. It was so consistent and powerful I barely got back out to the lineup, exhausted and ready to go home.
I don’t really have pre-session routine other than checking my gear and camera settings. One thing I will do though if it is big surf is take a moment to watch and assess the conditions before heading out.
I exercise and do breathe training during school. It is always important to make sure you can hold your breath for a long time. After an exercise I time myself to see how long it takes to get my heart rate down. I want to be able to do this quickly so I can calm down easier when I get caught inside or held under.
The biggest conditions I have been out in is definitely last year in Newport Beach. It was me, my older brother Michal, and my other “brother” Augie Cunningham out in the surf. Augie took a 12-footer and got caught outside the lip and took probably his worst wipeout ever. He is crazy when it comes to taking off on big waves and seeing him come up so trashed was definitely discouraging. Biggest set that day was 15+ feet; going over the top of those we could almost see PCH from the water.