Interview: SUP Mag UK
Pics: Georgia Wharton
For those who regularly attend stand up paddle board races around the UK Georgia Wharton will be a familiar face. On hand at a good many the young photographer can usually be seen snapping away, capturing all the action, and then sharing post event. Super likeable, friendly and approachable we caught up with Georgia for a natter about all things SUP and photography.
Tell us how you got into photography – what was your inspiration for picking up a camera?
I’ve always enjoyed taking photos, something about being able to capture a moment in time interested me and it was something I loved doing. When I got my first digital camera for Christmas, about 4-5 years ago, it was a starting point for me.
What did you start off snapping – was it always sports photography or did you have another preferred subject matter?
I started off snapping the SUP events I was attending, but I now take photos of anything that interests me, like nature, sport and events.
What camera equipment do you use these days – how’s that changed from when you first started?
I started off with a little pink Fuji compact, progressed onto a Lumix TZ40 and I’ve now got a Nikon D3300 with a sigma 70-300mm lens and a standard Nikon lens. However, I do realise I am limited by my equipment as my lenses don’t have the best zoom on them.
You attend most of the UK’s SUP race events – or at least that’s the perception – what made you start shooting at stand up paddle comps?
I’ve always attended the SUP events since 2007 (I was 7 years old), when my dad took up the sport. The atmosphere was always amazing and the people there became a second family to me. Ever since that first race I was always drawn back. Up until about 3 years ago, I hadn’t really taken photos for anyone but, after posting some photos on Facebook and seeing the response, I realised it was something I wanted to do.
Which event location you’ve been to is the best for taking pics and what makes it special?
I think the best locations for the SUP events are around Bournemouth, Boscombe and Poole, because it gives me a better opportunity for action shots – like everyone running into and off the beach. What makes it special is that lots of people attend and the atmosphere is always happy and friendly. They’re always enjoyable events.
What about photography as whole – anywhere you just can’t get away from?
I absolutely love the cliffs and beaches in Cornwall, around Watergate Bay and Bedruthan Steps. The scenery is just so beautiful.
SUPM has used some of your shots in the past (thanks for that!) but do you plan on growing your media exposure? Are you looking at turning this into a career for instance?
Yes, I do plan on growing my media exposure. I’ve started photographing different sports and I’m taking photography at college. I am planning on turning this into a career because I’m so passionate about it and know it’s a job I’ll really enjoy.
If you’re framing a killer shot what type of action do you look for – do you have an idea for each pic in mind prior to clicking the shutter?
I always try to look for the raw emotion in people’s faces when they’re taking part in a race, as I believe it shows the reality of the sport. I’ll usually have an idea in mind for what I want to capture, but if I see a possible shot, I’ll take the photo.
What about other forms of SUP – do you shoot waves for instance?
I have taken photos of people training in the surf before and after races, but never any events. Unfortunately I don’t really have the equipment to get the distance that’s needed for surf events.
Which photographer’s work do you admire – sport or otherwise – and why?
I have lots of inspirations like Charlie Raven, Tim Nevell and Clark Little. I admire and take ideas from Dave White’s work because the quality and colours in the photos are amazing and they always portray the action that takes place in the events.
There are some big SUP racing events across the international paddling community. If you could attend and photograph one which would it be and why?
I love looking at the photos from the Californian races, especially last year’s Pacific Paddle Games at Doheny State beach, because the carnage and colours were spectacular!
What about other events – SUP or otherwise? What high profile gatherings would you like to shoot and why?
I’d love to shoot motor sport and cycling events, such as the Tour de France and the Monaco Grand Prix. I’ve grown up watching them on TV and it’d be great to be there, amongst the action.
How about your own personal stand up paddling experience – do you ever get chance for a float? If so, where do you normally paddle and with whom?
I make sure I get out on the water every summer. I love paddling but I don’t race as I prefer to be there for the photos. I usually paddle on my local coastline with my dad and my younger brother, Luke.
Got any burning SUP aspirations of your own – fancy racing for instance?
I’d love to give racing a go one day. I keep saying it, but I will get round to it at some point.
What stand up paddle boarding kit do you use and why?
I use the Red Paddle Co 12.6ft inflatable race board and normally pinch one of my dad’s Quickblade paddles.
Do you have anyone you look up too – for both photography and SUP inspiration?
One of my main SUP inspirations is Joanne Hamilton Vale. She always pushes herself beyond her comfort zone, achieves what would be almost impossible for a lot of us, and is always so kind and lovely to me, giving me opportunities and advice. Annabel Anderson is also an inspiration of mine as I’ve watched her progress since I met her in 2010 at a Hayling Island race – she’s incredible. But everyone I’ve met over the years have inspired me in some way, teaching me new things and being the nicest group of people.
The UK’s SUP race scene is growing exponentially – what changes have you noticed over the last few seasons?
In the last few seasons the publicity for SUP has grown, more people have found out and tried out the sport after seeing pictures on social media. A lot more female paddlers have given racing a go and the events themselves have become more family friendly, in the sense that people are making a weekend out of it and bringing everyone along. There is much more variety in board shapes and age categories.
How do you see the sport growing and moving forwards?
I see SUP as a future Olympic sport. I feel it’s underestimated in the sense that those that haven’t experienced it view it as a less intense sport, when in fact it’s very fast and energetic. The surfing side of SUP is being taken more seriously too, and as it grows the sponsorship will also grow.
What about opportunities working in SUP media – do you think these openings will become more abundant?
Yes, I believe there will be more opportunities working in SUP media because as the sport grows there’ll be more big events requiring more photographers etc.
Any final thanks and shouts?
I’d like to say thank you to my mum and dad, who have supported me throughout, driven me to and from events and stuck around so I could get the final shots. Thank you to my dad for introducing me to the sport in the first place, without him I wouldn’t have met so many incredible people who have become part of my SUP family. And finally I’d like to say thank you to those who have given me encouragement and given me credit when using my photos.