by Michelle Michalak June 06, 2018

THE PHOTOGRAPHERS SPOTLIGHT  WILL BE A RUNNING SERIES THAT TAKES A LOOK BEHIND THE LENS OF SOME OF THE BEST WATER PHOTOGRAPHERS OUT THERE TODAY.

GUYS AND GIRLS JUST LIKE YOU WHO HAVE A PASSION FOR THE OCEAN AND TAKE IT OUT IN THE FORM OF BEAUTIFUL BREATHTAKING IMAGERY.
TODAY WE TURN THE SPOTLIGHT Waterman & photographer on 
Erik Ocheltree.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF:

I'm a Southern California native born and raised in Los Angeles and Orange County areas. I come from a family with a long history of being involved in the ocean. My great grandfathers and uncles were commercial fishermen in Norway before emigrating. Both of my grandfathers were sailors, dove for abalone and spearfished. I spent my entire life sailing, fishing, diving, surfing and spending as much time in the salt as I can. Not much else has changed since then.

OTHER THAN PHOTOGRAPHY, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LIKE TO DO?

I'm blessed to work a long list of fun jobs. I work with investors and entrepreneurs bringing their businesses to profitability. This grants me a lot of freedom in my schedule to pursue my hobbies and passions. I spend most of my free time in the ocean freediving, spearfishing, riding waves or just hanging out in the sand. As much as I like the beach, I also have spent a lot of time in the Eastern Sierras and the Rockies hiking, hunting, fishing and camping.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR CAMERA GEAR AND SET UP:

Currently, my GoPro Hero 6 gets the most use out of my quiver. I also have the Hero 4 as well as the GoPro Fusion. I really like the power and versatility that the GoPro offers. I also have a Leica V-Lux 114 that gets to see daylight every now and then. And finally, when I shoot film, I use my Canon AE-1.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY: WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO MOST?

Some of my favorite photos I've shot are unintended shots. I love finding hidden gems on my SD card. Odd angles, obscure lighting and varied composure that catch my eye and evoke emotion. I enjoy pushing my personal creative boundaries and capturing photos that elicit a raw, visceral feeling.

WHAT / WHO / WHEN GOT YOU STARTED IN TAKING PHOTOS?

My dad brought me up shooting photos from a very young age on a film camera. As long as I can remember, I've been capturing photos and developing them myself in the dark room. I thoroughly enjoy the process of bringing a photo to life and toying with developing techniques. Learning on film granted me a perspective that influences a lot of the way I shoot today. I've also gained a lot of inspiration from some of the greats I was introduced to as a child such as Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

WHERE IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE AND YOUR DREAM WAVE TO PHOTOGRAPH AND WHY?

One of my favorite places I've had the opportunity to shoot multiple times is Quintana Roo in Southern Mexico. From the cenotes to brackish water lagoons to freediving in the Caribbean, the opportunity for challenging myself and creating great content are endless. When it comes to dream waves, I feel some of the most common answers would be Chopes or Nazaré but my dream would be to shoot/ride waves in Antarctica. I love the juxtaposition of a great break curling in front of a snow covered backdrop with not a soul in sight.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CONDITIONS YOU HAVE BEEN OUT IN?

The biggest conditions I've been out in are about 12'-14' feet during a hurricane swell. When it’s breaking properly, it can be very fun and challenging. But when it turns to VAS type conditions, it can really test your mettle.

WHAT'S THE FAVORITE PHOTO YOU'VE EVER CAPTURED?

I don’t know if I have a single favorite photo, but the ones I always end up favoring are the oddities. I love capturing a photo that emits the same feeling I had while being out in the water shooting. My litmus test for a good photo is when I get that same rush of emotion looking back on it as when I was sitting out in the break shooting it.

Check out some Erik's favorite captures below ⬇️

Wave Photographer Erik Ocheltree

Ocean Photographer Orange County

Give Erik a FOLLOW on Insta HERE

Michelle Michalak
Michelle Michalak

Michelle's diploma reads BA Psychology with a minor in English, and her license plate reads #CaliforniaDreaming4Life. She begin her career in the NYC fashion industry working with fashion and internet pioneer, Bluefly.com However, due the constant "nagging" of her entrepreneurial spirit, her crush on surfing, and hardcore love for the ocean, she chosen to call San Diego home for the past 10 years. On the west coast she 's chased waves & enlightenment working alongside "Gurus" in the online marketing & personal development industries. It in May 2012 she found her true Zen & Stoke, and joined the Slyde Handboards Team.


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