Ryan Struck: Surfer — Teahupo’o, Tahiti

The Image

Ryan Struck

Teahupo’o, Tahiti

Time / Date:
3:08pm / July 3, 2012

The Technical

Camera Body: Canon 7D
Lens: Canon 50mm f/1.4
Other: Essex Surf Housing

Camera Settings:
Shutter Speed: 1/1000s
Aperture: f/4
ISO: 250
Focal Length: 50mm

The Story


I’m a self taught photographer who started out (and still is) experimenting with the medium. I was lucky enough to land a staff photographer position at an advertising firm after fumbling my way though every job you can imagine. Ultimately the preparation for this shoot was to leave the safely of said position’s paycheck. I didn’t want to look back and regret not following my dreams. I saw the “what ifs” in my future, picked the brightest outcome and aimed for it. I’m now in business for myself full time with projects in Santa Cruz, Death Valley, Washington State and Alaska slated for summer 2014.

The Scene: 

Teahupo’o is a world renowned big wave surf break. It’s not for the faint of heart; it’s for the psychos who come looking to conquer. The hardcore. This wave has made careers, just on one ride alone. It also happens to be one of the most beautiful and serene destinations in the world. It’s pure beauty is magnified by the friendly locals, tranquil rain storms and island lifestyle.


I brought along everything but the kitchen sink, as we photographers often do. Traveling so much its important to bring everything you need yet still prevent yourself from being bogged down. I had two digital bodies, a borrowed medium format Bronica, 35mm Canon, 5 canon lenses, Essex Water Housing, a laptop and travel drive. There was a few other odds and ends too. I planned on being in Tahiti for a month so it was essential that I have everything I needed as there is no access to gear there. I wound up staying 2 months and was thankful I brought enough film!

Making the Shot:

Teahupo’o is not a photographer friendly wave. To make it out to the line up you must don a pair of swim fins and kicked out way into the lineup, a good 15 minute swim. There is no shooting this wave off of the beach. It’s either go amphibious or rent a boat which can cost a pretty penny. I made this photo as I swam back to shore along side my good friend PJ Raia (pictured). I was already in Tahiti a few weeks when PJ came into town and this was our first session in the water together. We laughed about about the session that was had and I to make a photograph representing our good times.

Editing & Processing:

When I edit my images I download the card to my laptop and immediately back up to My Passport Pro from Western Digital. Once I know photos are safe and secure I cull and then import RAW images into Adobe Lightroom where I make minor adjustments. I’m less concerned with the actual process of editing an image than I am with composing something to my liking in-camera. I believe the edit should compliment a strongly composed image

Looking Back:

Tahiti was a place like none other I’ve been to before. Surfing is rife with ego and Teahupo’o is a place to go and get a nuts wave. The reef is laser sharp and the place holds waves as big as you can image. Shooting surf action is awesome in that you capture the pinnacle of the ride. I always prefer the lifestyle, the journey and the emotion that go along with wave riding. This image expresses all of that visually 🙂


Your best bet is to do what you love, to truly follow your heart. Strike out on your own and do right by your inner voice. When you truly love what you do it shows. Money isn’t the end goal here, tough times are ahead but you can do it. As to photography advice? Press the button dummy!


Sunlight coupled with the Earth’s natural beauty is the most awesome and inspiring combination for me as a photographer. The wonder that surrounds us humans on this blue planet of ours has rendered me awestruck and dumbfounded. From the cobalt blue waters of the South Pacific to the mystical force that is the Grand Canyon, I just cannot get enough of what nature has to offer.



About the Photographer

I want to experience every corner of the world, camera in hand. There’s a telling story under each nook and cranny. I am of the mind set that life is a give and take and if you do not bend with the wind you will snap, leaving behind a brittle and jagged stump. All thoughts are up for debate and each should be considered carefully. There is beauty in absolutely everything; win, lose or draw.
I am a 28 year old photographer from New Jersey. When not at home shooting I can be found traveling in search of surf and inspiring natural lighting. As a Senior Photographer for Eastern Surf Magazine and Contributing Photographer for Surfing Magazine I strive to bring different perspectives to the world of wave riding. My desire to capture images that help viewers imagine the instant the shutter clicked fuels my passion to combine beautiful light, people and places.

Website: RyanStruck.com
Blog:  ryanstruck.tumblr.com
500px: /ryanstruck
Twitter: @RyanStruck
Instagram: @RyanStruck

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