Instagrammer: @ridgebenben

Every week I talk to a new photographer on Instagram.  They share their favorite locations, camera gear, and the best practices to have on Instagram. This week is Ridge BenBen, a 20-year-old surf/wave photographer and artist that's based in San Clemente, California.

Ridge BenBen

Ridge BenBen

What inspired you to start wave photography?  Were there any specific people that inspired you?

So the main thing that started my love photography was my love for art. I started drawing and painting in high school and found myself constantly referencing ocean photos. I found myself always Googling Clark Little images to use and that is where the majority of my inspiration comes from. Eventually I wanted to start painting my own images and that’s how I got into photography.

Do you have any favorite spots in San Clemente to photograph waves?

I don’t normally shoot in San Clemente.  I tend to drive up to the wedge in Newport a lot. Most of the time it's pretty crowded and that is why I won’t give up my other favorite spots ;).

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What is your most favorite picture you have ever taken?

So hard to choose a favorite…I’ve had others get more exposure/feedback/complements but this one is one of my favorites for sure. (Image below)

What gear do shoot with when going out in the water? 

I shoot with a Canon 7D mark ii.  The two lenses I shoot with out in the water are the Canon 50mm 1.4 and Canon 15mm 2.8.  I also use a CMT housing. The lens I shoot with mostly out of the water is Canon 35mm 1.4 L mark I.

Do you have any specific settings you always shoot with? Aperture priority or Shutter Priority? Manual or Auto Focus?

I always shoot manual. If there is a problem with the settings, I would like it to be my fault and not my cameras. I use Auto focus when shooting with my 50mm and sometimes autofocus with my 15mm, but typically I use manual focus.

You are also an artist (@benben_art) who paints incredible wave paintings.  What about the waves inspires you to paint them?

There is something about painting waves that I love. The fact that every single wave is completely different is what I like about it the most. I think the process into painting a wave is the most fun. Blending the colors and then adding as much detail at the end to make it look realistic is so much fun. It's always so rewarding when finishing a painting.  Maybe even more rewarding then nailing a “perfect” shot in the water. 

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What advice would you give to the beginning wave photographer?

I might not have the best advice for a beginning photographer due to the fact that I’ve only been shooting photos (with a digital camera) for little over a year. My best advice to any artist though is DON'T DO IT FOR MONEY. Do it for yourself. Paint, draw, photograph what you want and if it makes you money, hey that's just a bonus. Also make sure your housing is fully closed before going in the water…don’t learn the hard way. Plus, have fun!

The last question I always like to ask is what advice would you give to a photographer trying to expose their work on Instagram? 

The best advice I have is just using tags to try and get featured by bigger accounts. Having other photos of people helps because then their likely to share your work. I’ve noticed that much more often while shooting surfers and not just empty waves. Also having your page have a theme and originally is key. Make your page stand out from others. Don’t try and copy others.

To see more of Ridge BenBen's wave photography go here .

To see more of Ridge BenBen's artwork go here.