Water…one of Earth’s most powerful natural phenomena. For millions of years it has shaped our lands, forming mountains and sculpting coastlines. It is required by organisms to live, yet it can also be the culprit of destruction for some villages and towns. But there is also joy to be found, as we take vacations just to be near bodies of water and many recreational activities & sports revolve around it.

One sport in particular, surfing, might be the most fascinating and daring water activity of them all. Across the globe, thrill-seeking surfers catch oceanic oscillations as the swell breaks upon nearing the shoreline. Not only does this activity require skill, but photographing it can be just as challenging and dangerous.

Scroll down to see some incredible surfing images and tips from the pros. You may just want to move to the coast after viewing them all.

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Chris Burkard | Facebook | 500px | Location: Patagonia

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Seth Stafford | Kiron Jabour surfing Backdoor Pipeline in Hawaii

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Marco Petracci | 500px | Federico Tenerini in Montignoso, Tuscany

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Chris Burkard | Facebook | 500px | Location: Norway

unnamedBy Matt Hutton | Facebook | Location: Jacques Point, Kalbarri, Western Austrailia

Q: What is the biggest obstacle to overcome in surf photography?

“The single biggest obstacle with surf photography is the short reaction time you have to the fleeting moments the ocean offers. You wait and wait and the moment you’ve been waiting for can come and go in less than a second.” -Pat Stacy

“The biggest obstacle is trying to find big waves, I am from California and we normally get 3-4 footers, occasionally we have some decent swells and I love shooting big waves!” -Jeff Dotson

“The biggest obstacle is making your surfing photography look different from everyone else’s. That means shooting with an off camera remote flash, shooting at dawn, shooting from a different vantage point, using a slow shutter speed. The list goes on.” -David Orias

“Weather is a huge obstacle. In constant pursuit of that perfect wave from that perfect storm.” -Chris Burkard

“The constantly changing  ocean conditions. You must learn to adapt quickly.” -Seth Stafford

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Andrea Vaccaro | 500px | Location: Pipeline, North Shore, O‘ahu

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy David Orias | 500px | Location: North Shore, O‘ahu

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Jeff Dotson | 500px | Location: Southern California

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Andrew Cooney | www.andrewcooney.com.au | 500px | Facebook | Location: Avoca Beach, New South Wales

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Rafaski | Facebook | Instagram | Robson Santos at Pauba, Brazil

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Jeff Dotson | 500px | Location: Southern California

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Seth Stafford | Clay Marzo surfing in Peru

Chris BurkardBy Chris Burkard | Facebook | 500px | Location: Big Sur

Q: What essential equipment do you always bring with you?

“A fisheye is a really fun lens for water shots.” -Pat Stacy

“A fast camera to shoot at a minimum of 5 frames per second. Inside the water the more frames the better, and the most popular cameras among professional water photographers even make 12 to 14 frames per second.” -Rafael Calsinski

“Besides a camera probably having a good roll of toilet paper is essential.” -Chris Burkard

“A waterproof bag or case and a good wetsuit if the weather is cold.” -Joe Hsu

“For my surf photography I shoot with a Canon 5D mk3 using a EF 70-200mm F/2.8L USM and a EF 17-40mm F/4L USM Lens.”  -Jeff Dotson

“A water housing. I use SPL water housing, to keep my camera dry. and a nice comfortable pair of flippers so you can quickly maneuver around in the sea.” -Seth Stafford

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Anton Repponen | 500px | Location: Maui

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Mike Tittel | 500px | Location: Honolua Bay, Maui

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Rafaski Facebook | Instagram | Dane Ward at Cloudbrake, Fiji

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Tó Mané | 500px | Garrett McNamara surfing a 100ft wave at Praia do Norte beach in Nazare, Portugal

Q: What dangers are there to be aware of?

“Shooting in the water is the most dangerous because you can be hit by a surfer or if in the wrong location, be pitched over a wave.  Some surfing breaks have a very high local vibe and are not always that friendly to photographers.” -David Orias

“The sharp pointed surfboard with sharp pointed fins heading straight toward you, combined with the powerful waves tossing you around.” -Seth Stafford

“Each beach has its own dangers, from angry surfers who don’t want their surf spot photographed to the possibility of drowning… then of course there’s always sharks.” -Pat Stacy

“With surf photography, there’s not much in your control. It’s nature and the only thing you can do is keep an eye out.” -Jeff Dotson

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Chris Burkard | Facebook | 500px | Location: Nicaragua

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Diogo d’Orey | 500px | Location: Padang, Indonesia

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Kirill Umrikhin | 500px | Location: Mauritius

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Rui Caria | 500px | Location: Nazare North Canyon, Portugal

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesPatrick Stacey reducedPatrick Stacey reducedBy Pat Stacy | Mark Healy in the North Shore of O‘ahu

Q: Any other tips or advice?

“Always remember to relax and have fun with what your doing, or why do it?” –

“I always wake up in the early morning and find that the best light in a day is while the sun is rising.” -Joe Hsu

“Protect your gear! I use an Outex housing for my above and underwater photography.”  -Jeff Dotson

“The more time you spend in the ocean the more comfortable you will become. The more comfortable you are, the more clearly you will think so you can create stunning images.” -Seth Stafford

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Joe Hsu | Instagram | Facebook500px | Palm Beach, North Sydney

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Rafaski | Facebook | Instagram | Tyler Newton at Pipeline, Hawaii

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Steve Pethers | 500px | Location: Snapper Rocks, Gold Coast, Queensland

Surf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesPatrick Stacey reducedPatrick Stacey reducedBy Pat Stacy | Shane Dorian at the big island in HawaiiSurf's Up: 26 Incredible Photos of Surfers Catching WavesBy Eric Esterle | 500px | Location: North Shore, O’ahu

A special thanks to all of the photographers whose images were featured in this article! 

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