Award-winning photographer Drew Doggett is a storyteller. Looking at his work stimulates the imagination, and offers viewers an artistic look at his subjects. Here is an interview with the artist about his new limited edition print series titled Swell: Endless Blue as well as the incredible short film, The Escape, about professional surfer Alana Blanchard. It is an introduction to the world of surfing with all of its notions of freedom, nature, joy, and – of course – the beauty of the sport itself.
How did you begin photography?
I got my professional start working in fashion photography among legends like Mark Seliger and Steven Klein. Assisting them was a masterclass in photography and the technicalities and minute changes which transform a good image into a great one. For my work today, I use the aesthetic values culled from time spent in the fashion industry by applying them to my subjects captured outside the confines of the studio.
What attracted you to the surfing world?
I am also always looking for designs in nature, and photographing the waves from above was a study in form and composition. The surfers are intertwined within that pattern, and from an aerial perspective, the macro shapes create aesthetically organized compositions that I sought out to create this series.
Where did you find your inspiration for your work?
My fondest memories of youth have the ocean as a backdrop, and I found the same sense of unparalleled excitement and joy in surfers of all ages. In 2014 I created a series on the infamous J-Class and 12-Meter racing yachts, and I knew at some point I would continue my documentation of the open seas and our globally-shared love affair with the ocean. Surfing – especially from an aerial perspective – allowed me to use design and scale to create a story about our interaction with the water as well as to utilize the design and attention to detail I honed working in fashion photography. I am inspired by the innate patterns of our natural world, among other things, and the ocean offers endless opportunities for the discovery of forms and compositions.
The accompanying film, The Escape, features pro surfer Alana Blanchard. Alana is an all-around role model and, of course, her surfing speaks for itself. It felt like the perfect extension of the still images to create a film that expands on the joy and blissfulness of time spent on the water.
Where were the pictures taken?
The images from Swell: Endless Blue were taken on the North Shore of Oahu among some of the most famous breaks in the world.
How did you choose these places?
I choose these places based on various aesthetic criteria, but also because of the stories that are embedded within my location choices. Oahu is revered around the world as a surfer’s paradise and the pristine white sand beaches and clear blue water created the ideal minimal palette.
How did the idea of making the Short Film with Alana Blanchard come to your mind? Where did you shoot it?
When we had begun the process of researching the series, 6 months prior to shooting, we had thought about creating a film that elaborates on the thrill and enjoyment of time spent by the water. When researching possible subjects, Alana quickly shot to the top of our list because of her deep dedication to surfing and since she grew up on Kauai. Although she is a professional and sponsored by some of the biggest brands in the world, she had once taken time off to regain her love for the sport. We respected this decision to put her love of surfing for herself before all. So, this film is about the sport as much as it is about the all-consuming timeless joy that takes over Alana when she gets out on the water. We shot the film on her home island of Kauai among some of her favorite surf spots.
Is there a message you wanted to transmit through it?
This film is about that activity or place, whatever it may be, that allows you to be free and truly, deeply live in the moment. For Alana, the sense of the escape means going out to surf but for others, it may be getting outside or spending time with loved ones. When I create my work, I always think about offering the viewer an experience that transports them to an idyllic place, a memorable feeling, or a blissful, calming moment. The film – and the series Swell – are no different.
To see more of his work, visit his Instagram