Interview by Rebecca Parsons
SUP women come from all different walks of life. While we typically focus on top female paddlers, there are countless other women who help make the SUP community what we know and love. From writers and photographers to race directors and apparel designers, there are a number of women working behind-the-scenes to help push standup paddling to new levels. New Zealand-based photographer Georgia Schofield is no exception.
Schofield grew up competing in windsurfing, but found she enjoyed her time behind the lens more than on the board. After dropping out of school, she set out to pursue her dream of becoming a professional photographer. That road has led to her to becoming one of the premier photographers in the SUP industry. We caught up with the Kiwi to find out how she first got into photography, some of her favorite projects and the gear she uses to capture her stunning photos. –RP
What is your background with water sports?
I grew up in New Zealand sailing and racing small boats from the age of seven, eventually switching to racing windsurfers when I was twelve. I represented New Zealand at two ISAF Youth Worlds racing the RS:X Windsurf class. As with any Olympic sport at a top level, it got very political and my passion for racing waned. During this time I was also surfing, standup paddling and kiting. My after-school/weekend job was to teach windsurfing. We used standup paddleboards when there was no wind to keep the lessons going, which is how I first got introduced to SUP.
How did you first get into photography?
Both my parents were amazing amateur photographers so there was always a camera around the house. When I was sixteen, photography just clicked; so I went out, bought a camera and started shooting non-stop. I took the camera to all of my competitions when I was windsurfing and found I was actually having way more fun sneaking onto media boats and shooting during the medal race of a regatta than actually racing in it myself. When I was eighteen, I managed to convince my parents to let me drop out halfway through my final year of high school and I became a photographer.
How did you get involved in SUP photography?
Back when I was coaching windsurfing after school, there was a weekly race at the beach over summer called the Beach Series—you could run, swim, surfski paddle or standup paddle. All my training buddies and I liked to take the old racing windsurf boards down and race SUP. I began chatting to the SUP event sponsors, Jeremy Stephenson and Victoria Stuart from Starboard New Zealand, and told them that I could help out at their events and also take some photos. I got a call two weeks later from Vic and I've been working with them ever since.
What other industries do you work in besides water sports?
Music is the main other industry. When I started out I was shooting on average three live shows a week plus filming and shooting live sessions in a recording studio. To date, I'd estimate I've shot maybe 500+ concerts. Music and sports are very similar to me, you're not trying to create your own moment, but instead capturing people living their moment.
What have been some of the highlights of your career?
Coming to Starboard HQ was most definitely one of the best moments of my life, working for Starboard International is truly challenging and rewarding all at the same time. The expectations are high but I wouldn't have it any other way. I get to travel the world shooting SUP, I couldn't ask for a better job. Being at PPG and M2O were pretty amazing, still waiting on my first real Pe’ahi experience but I'm sure it'll come when the time is right.
What's your favorite camera to shoot with?
My Canon 5DMK3 is my workhorse. I'm moving more into videography, so my favorite there is the Sony FS7. Also, you can't really beat the opportunities that water housings and drones give you to get those different angles. I'm a bit of a gearhead so I like to try out new stuff whenever I can but it's tough to beat ole' faithful. I also try to spend some time shooting film when possible, it really helps refine good habits as a shooter—it slows you down and makes you think more about what you're doing.
What advice would give someone interested in getting started in watersports photography?
If you want to make it a job then just start shooting and don't stop, take on criticism but don't take it to heart and remember that the job is so much more than just taking a good photo. Keep on top of your editing, file management, emails, invoices, taxes and everything else.
Have you competed in any SUP competitions?
I've been promising a few people that I'll do the SUP 11 City Tour in 2019. I'm very much looking for a way to get out of that promise haha.