Russ' last ride at The Right - photos and interview

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

Just as some surfers become synonomous with a wave - think Lopez and Pipe, Tomson and J'Bay - so to do some water photographers. In these instances the photographer becomes recognised because they've committed themselves to a wave over a number of years. They've repeatedly put themselves in the firing line whenever it's broken and, at risk of serious injury, they've returned with ever more intimate angles. Think Scott Aichner at Pipe, Chris Van Lennep at Cave Rock, and Russell Ord at The Right.

However when we talk about Russ and The Right it's always gonna be past tense, because as of Monday Russ has hung up his gloves out there. 

Swellnet had a quick chat about the fella whose delved deeper than anyone at Australia's most brutal wave

Swellnet: So it's true you've had your last swim out there?
Russell Ord: Yeah, I wasn't even gonna go out there on Monday but Darren (McCagh - creator of upcoming documentary, One Shot) still needs a few shots for his doco.

What's the reason?
Few reasons. One is that it's just too busy now; on Monday there were 18 skis in the channel and only 4 or 5 of them had brought riders with them. The rest were poaching shots.

The other reason is that I've achieved everything that I wanted to achieve out there. I've done what I wanted. I just don't think I'll be able to take a better shot than I have, and you know it's a real fine line out there. Shooting fisheye you can be two metres one way and be too far away, or be two metres the other way and get sucked over the falls. And you get too old to go over the falls out there!

You went over the falls on Monday, yeah?
Yeah, I decided to try and shoot under Chris Shanahan as he went past - dont know what I was thinking - and I ended up going over with it. It was in a relatively safe spot compared to what it could have been, however I was not in the best position on the second one and copped that on the head. I actually pulled my safety vest on that one but only because I wanted to test it, I had plenty of air left in the lungs.

How often have you been punished out there?
I have been caught out of position on a number of occasions and taken a couple of hold downs. Sometimes I feel I haven't committed enough because I should be copping more than I have. I had my oldest son Kalani come drive the ski for me yesterday so I didn't want him going home saying we lost dad today. He had a great time and it was nice to share what I actually try to attempt when down that way. The surfers were charging yesterday they put me to shame. 

You got your eyes on any other waves to shoot?
Yeah but I'd rather not talk about it, just do it. Some wave you don't even know if you'll go out when you see them break.

Any clues to the types of shots you'll be hunting in the future?
I am going to travel through the Pacific with the family and just going to document the whole experience, I do have a few waves on the wish list that I would love to have a swim in and made some enquiries here and there but in the end if doesn't happen so be it. In the end its only for my own personal experience. I still love the lead up to these type of shots, doing the breathe hold training with One Ocean International.

I'd love to try some freedive imagery. I take my hat off to those photographers that take incredible underwater images on one breathe...maybe try a few more of those?

...and with that, here are some of Russ' shots from Monday. His last swim and his last photos from The Right.

Dan Ryan in sequence.

Russell Bierke

Chris Shanahan in sequence

Majestic and empty

Zac Haynes

James Hick getting footloose

Comments

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 8:40am

Madman

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 8:42am

Bloody hell! What a way to go out.. those photos are incredible. Good onya Russ.

yocal's picture
yocal's picture
yocal commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 8:45am

Dan Ryan Shots are insane

Go deeper Taylor, go deeper!

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 8:58am

Lordy. Incredible shots and props to the surfers putting themselves in them.

Ignorance is Zen

barley's picture
barley's picture
barley commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 9:09am

Fucking nutter

abc-od's picture
abc-od's picture
abc-od commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 9:21am

What's the One Shot doco about?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 9:32am

Short documentary following Russ as he tries to take that one definitive photo. Should be out later this year (I think). From the Pozible blurb:

"As a photographer I want to remember myself for taking that “one” photo – not because of the surfer’s name or reputation, but because of the position I put myself in to capture the moment in time."

"An amazing view of the ocean cannot be captured without an element of risk; It’s taken me years to find my niche within my photography, and now that I have, it’s such a great place to be."

Imagine there'll be some incredible imagery, both from Russ' camera and also from the channel looking in at his position in the impact zone.

cswells's picture
cswells's picture
cswells commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 9:33am

Shame to see Russell hanging up the gloves on The Right, but he's easily my favourite photographer to follow on Instagram.

Looking forward to all his future work!

derra83's picture
derra83's picture
derra83 commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 10:00am

I agree with the above, what a way to go out. To keep doing what he was doing youve got to make it a "personal journey" because the I dont think many surfers understand what goes into capturing his shots. Most surfers will never ride the right let alone dog paddle in the impact zone!!

southey's picture
southey's picture
southey commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 10:14am

Great Photographer and great bloke .
Oh the irony ......
"it's just too busy now " , guys are just out there trying to poach photos' , even though they are not connected with riders .....
It's okay Russ , just admit its your age and life focus that'll stop you .

" SA's Reserve Capacity "

bigkiwisi's picture
bigkiwisi's picture
bigkiwisi commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 10:50am

Nice one Russ, thanks for the insane images over the years , I've often marveled at your courage and obvious lung capacity to get some of the shots at The Right!! Good luck on your next adventures.

Pete Jovic's picture
Pete Jovic's picture
Pete Jovic commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 11:51am

The bloke makes it look easy. His dedication, commitment and confidence to get into ridiculous positions is insane. The Right might be his signature wave...but jeez, his portfolio of images from all over the place is quite remarkable.

caml's picture
caml's picture
caml commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 12:04pm

"Other photographers poaching shots " interesting subject there !

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 1:14pm

Caught my attention too Caml. Wonder if he was taking the piss?

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 12:17pm

I'm on it. I'll get some media lanyards ready for the next swell, camel.

Awesome shots.

caml's picture
caml's picture
caml commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 12:33pm

Wat do u mean ldoggy

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 12:41pm

If a photographer brings, or comes with you to the right (or wherever), next time, he needs the lanyard around his neck to shoot you.
Photogs without surfers in their team, can only shoot the unsurfed waves, or surfers without an assigned photog on approval of that surfer.

caml's picture
caml's picture
caml commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 12:52pm

Oh a pass ! Got it ok yeah I dunno its a storm in a teacup / nutshell

tonybarber's picture
tonybarber's picture
tonybarber commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 1:44pm

That 'one' photo would be for both the photographer and surfer. I'd pay a bloke to take a shot like these. They are classic.

shortenm's picture
shortenm's picture
shortenm commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 2:03pm

1) Photograph, 2) media hype it, 3) big wave awards 4) people get paid to ride and photograph it = Competition over a scarce resource.... No surprises lots of activity there now surely...

Shortenm

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 3:11pm

Well done Russ.

Ordy's picture
Ordy's picture
Ordy commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 3:46pm

Cheers crew for the comments etc just to clarify what I mean my poaching:
Poaching as I see it is basically showing up to a secluded spot (not the pipe pro etc) and shooting everything that moves and then trying to on sell that work, no drama at all if shooting for portfolio. It takes years to develop a relationship with athletes knowing you can do a certain job and have certain contacts that can showcase the work. For example if I have a certain team to shoot, I will concentrate on doing the best job I can, yes I also shoot other riders however with these images I will communicate with their photographer / videographer and just come to a basic understanding on what they are trying to achieve and then take a back seat until they accomplish their goals... basically just respecting the hard work they have put in and give them the time to do that. Last year I had a number of young guys (yes I am getting old and grumpy) ask if they could use certain shots for advertising and there was never a drama really good ethics that I also live by, its such a great experience for everyone involved and I have no problem helping anyone starting out if you have any questions on the matter feel free to reach out, I certainly had to and still thank the Regnards for their on going advice today. If it came across negative I apologise in advance - Communication and Education.

kneepete's picture
kneepete's picture
kneepete commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 4:41pm

Ian and Erick Regnard = fricken legends.

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 4:27pm

Ordy, it begins to get very interesting when you start to look at things such as the actual value of relationships and having reliable talent to work with that can actually get the job done.
So where do the surfers stand with having control over the reproduction of images of themselves in the press?
Are you contracted in any way or is it done on the basis of a handshake and the pay is in the on-selling of the images? In other words, how does the commercial agreement effect the usage and/or any right to privacy? A bit personal I know, and I understand if you'd prefer to keep it quiet. It's particularly interesting for me as we're discussing copyright in a unit at uni at the moment.

Cheers.

Ordy's picture
Ordy's picture
Ordy commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 4:29pm

Andy as I understand it (I may be way off the mark but this is how I go about my work) I am free to use the images for editorial purposes however anything to do with advertising I always get a model release form signed by the athlete, without the athletes / models consent you are certainly leaving yourself open to legal action. I have been asked by a number of companies (not the athletes sponsors) for certain shots over the years and the athlete has not given me permission for use so I do not on sell that image.

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 4:45pm

Thanks Ordy.
So as I understand it, it's the fact that you're basically part of the team or that you've been specifically asked to document the event that, in a gentleman's way, gives you first dibs over a random punter out there on a jetski?

Ordy's picture
Ordy's picture
Ordy commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 4:53pm

I will only document the event if I have a team that I have organised myself or been employed by, (we are not talking a WSL event here) I would never go to a surf break otherwise, if I did I would hang out the back out of the way and just shoot for my portfolio and if I wanted to use those images any further I would simply communicate with the photographer thats has done all the ground work. As an example I have worked along side Jamie Scott for years, Jamie concentrates on a certain bombie and has developed great relationships with those athletes, I would only go out there myself if I had my own team and then Jamie and I will have some understanding on the shoot...A number of photographers have got really bad reputations for not bringing beers to the party so to speak and getting completely blind" hope that makes sense.

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 4:56pm

That clarifies things very well, appreciate the response.

southey's picture
southey's picture
southey commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 4:51pm

Kudos ,

Whats your stance on someone revealing the spot with images containing vital info for locating such spots . I don't want to start a drama between someone else and yourself , so maybe steer clear of naming names . But just your thoughts in general , would like to hear what someone who operates with ethics thinks . And perhaps your response could act am example to some of teh " younger " types that think the world owes them something and or its a free for all ! ?

" SA's Reserve Capacity "

Ordy's picture
Ordy's picture
Ordy commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 5:14pm

Southy I have just had a policy from the start never to name the actual place or where it is, magazines sometimes like to add that to the description which is out of my hands. No point drawing a complete map to the break and it takes the adventure away from it all... I will name an image for example: John Smith_The Right_Photo Ord (I don't need to put the actual place)... I certainly don't have anything that has co-ordinates imbedded into my image... I forgot to ad that I have certainly learnt from mistakes in the past and not totally innocent

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 5:02pm

Thanks for the insights, Ordy.
A bit of respect definitely goes a long way.

Wharfjunkie's picture
Wharfjunkie's picture
Wharfjunkie commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 6:29pm

Good stuff Ordy well done

caml's picture
caml's picture
caml commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 6:38pm

Ordys pioneered before all others and stands alone and its great to hear his story

Hadyn Vones's picture
Hadyn Vones's picture
Hadyn Vones commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 6:56pm

awesome work Russ on chasing the dream of capturing 'the shot' you have been after. As discussed in Russ's comments this place has now become a circus whenever there is a large swell. I feel sorry for the pioneers that first captured and surf this wave and wonder if any respect is paid toward these guys.

rooftop's picture
rooftop's picture
rooftop commented Wednesday, 18 May 2016 at 10:34pm

Great work, amazing images and a gentleman to boot.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 19 May 2016 at 8:10am

Great footage here from Tim Bonython, but gawd! How's the mainstream news commentary overlay. "This isn’t Hollywood, it’s 200m off Walpole".

Ramazan's picture
Ramazan's picture
Ramazan commented Sunday, 22 May 2016 at 9:28am

I counted 11 Rudys. How many Garys is that?

southey's picture
southey's picture
southey commented Thursday, 19 May 2016 at 9:11am

So we can presume Tim dragged or got channel 7 involved . He sold a still for the front page of the main WA newspaper ? Or are we talking about Mick and Jarryd trying to court as much attention as possible in the hope of funding another trip overseas . This is rediculous attention .

" SA's Reserve Capacity "

wbat's picture
wbat's picture
wbat commented Thursday, 19 May 2016 at 9:26am

200 meters off Walpole, That should put it if right in the middle of the Inlet. Nice!!!!

mantown's picture
mantown's picture
mantown commented Thursday, 19 May 2016 at 10:41am

Is it true that Dan Ryan and select bodyboarding friends used to paddle out to the Right, no jet skis, surfed it for few years solo and never took any photo's?

caml's picture
caml's picture
caml commented Sunday, 22 May 2016 at 10:54am

No you have got wires crossed there

kashmir's picture
kashmir's picture
kashmir commented Thursday, 19 May 2016 at 11:19am

Just putting my two bobs worth in,My thirteen year old is just starting out in a venture to earn a little pocket money and get better at surf photography.(Gracetown Surf Photography)on FB.When it comes to" poaching" shots he will want to take photos of pros and anyone else whose worth shooting and will sell the shots for $5 each.There are less than a hand full of born and bred Gracetown locals and if a out of town photographer gives him shit for shooting it's "on for young and old" and I will shove the camera and tripod into the anus of the blow in.I have got dirty looks from pro photogs for taking photos in Gracetown but fortunately nothing has been said.If photogs and their pros turn up they must do the right thing as they are visitors and must have manners.

yocal's picture
yocal's picture
yocal commented Thursday, 19 May 2016 at 11:31am

There aren't any good waves in Gracetown anyway

Go deeper Taylor, go deeper!

Monte Rego's picture
Monte Rego's picture
Monte Rego commented Thursday, 19 May 2016 at 11:58am

Beautiful surf, imagery! Amazing work!!
Shot with 70-200? Anything on fish-eye that day?
Looking forward to see your future captures!

Ernie's picture
Ernie's picture
Ernie commented Thursday, 19 May 2016 at 4:15pm

Wow, I had no clue that surf photo localism was so heavy.

Legrope's picture
Legrope's picture
Legrope commented Sunday, 22 May 2016 at 4:05pm

Has any scientists attempted to measure how many Olympic swimming pools there are throwing over these guys heads in one set wave out there? Mind boggling! Maybe the same volume as a set wave at Jaws? Just a crazier shape.

caml's picture
caml's picture
caml commented Sunday, 22 May 2016 at 4:57pm

Yeah well measure it in litres please

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Sunday, 22 May 2016 at 5:27pm

Caml - cubic metre of water is 1000 litres and weighs 1 ton....Christ knows how many litres in a bomb at the right or YB...tons of water in the lips alone ...fucking amazing how much the human body can take force wise in a wipeout.

Legrope's picture
Legrope's picture
Legrope commented Sunday, 22 May 2016 at 6:07pm

What I meant was an olympic pool is 2.5 million litres ir 2500 tonne. Maybe 10 pools per wave = 25,000 tonne of water throwing quickly and violently. Just a rough guess. It does get bigger but sometimes messier in the Southern Ocean. Crazy water. Russ your a legend. Best photos for years of our WA. Cheers to you

mothart's picture
mothart's picture
mothart commented Monday, 23 May 2016 at 12:10pm

Isn't ocean water more dense that fresh water?
So a m3 of fresh water is a tonne, doesn't ocean water weigh more?
& is colder water more dense?.. (I could be making that last one up...