The thrill of adventure, the endless possibilities of travel, the joy of experience…the Lensbaby photographer finds inspiration in these moments.
Lucia Griggi and Boone Speed know exactly how that feels.
Griggi is an acclaimed surf photographer, and one of the few female photographers in the industry. She’s traveled the world catching her own next wave in addition to exhilarating photographs of the world’s best surfers.
“I discovered my visual voice through my passion of surfing. My surfing adventures took me to corners of the world which were off the beaten track and where I would not have necessarily chosen to travel had the waves not led me there. Chasing swells around the world has taken me to corners of the land I never would have explored. From this I discovered the idea that life was to be documented in chapters of travel and therefore adventure to be had, to see the possibilities in life rather than the barriers.”
Photography is far more than a job for Griggi – it’s an undeniable calling.
“My pictures are my life and my life is seen in pictures. I very rarely tend to soak in a destination without clicking that button or rolling on film. Travel and adventure photography is my staple work – I visit many a destination where I feel at home with a camera by my side.”
Griggi believes in angles and light, clean lines, defined parameters, block color, and bold visual strength. She doesn’t like to alter her images, instead preferring to capture the emotion of her subjects naturally, in the moment.
“Many of my destinations lend a hand to seeing in a bright and simple way. Photographing waves and their oceans, aerial photos of outer reefs looking down on transparent turquoise waters. In my portrait and lifestyle work I try to capture the emotion in that moment given.”
Photographing surfers, underwater, on the water, and from solid ground is anything but a simple task.
“Many times I wanted to give up but my drive, passion and determination always kept me going even in the toughest of times. I’ve had times when I have drowned thousands of pounds of my gear, when boats or jetskis would tip over from unpredictable waves and I would be in compromising and scary positions. Swimming around in the ocean has not just been physically challenging but also mentally. Swimming in deep channels, being left out to sea till dark with tropical storms approaching, sharks, jellyfish, swimming over sharp reefs – it’s all kept me on my toes.”
But the struggle is undeniably worth it to Griggi – through it she can accomplish her goal of creating evocative photographs with her lens.
“It is about being connected with the waves and moving alongside the surfer under the water. Feeling its energy and initiating the movements of the surfer. When a wave is about to break it is important to gain a good position in order to get a nice perspective for the photo.”
“It would be impossible to not capture such a true emotion when surfing is involved. Photographing in the water alongside the surfer when waves are rolling over our heads on a shallow reef makes for the optimum adventure shot with true feelings and determination. The freedom a surfer feels when surfing a wave is immense and unique and therefore can be captured in the same way.”
For Griggi, Lensbaby became a source of creativity for her work. She dove right in, embraced the possibilities, and achieved incredible results.
“I was passing through Oregon and a friend introduced me to Lensbaby lenses. The surf was really good and close by so we went to check it out. He had his camera with him and a Composer Pro. I asked if I could have a play and only two weeks later I decided to put the lens down! Lensbaby slowed my shooting down, made me think how to see the same subject in a different way, shifted my attention to focus, and gave me a wider imagination to work with….I found I expressed myself differently and it gave me back the inspiration I needed to want to push my work further. The lenses gave me a different creative way to see and document the lines and curves I was newly seeing and I was very grateful for this new vision.”
On the technical side, Griggi’s process varies greatly depending on her location. But she has a few preferences that maintain despite the scenery.
“I love the Edge 80 and the soft focus lenses. I’m not sure if there is an ideal shoot setting but close up macro detail in the sunniest conditions I like and for commercial clients I like to use the lenses with slightly less depth of field on a smaller aperture, around 11-13.”
What’s next for Griggi? A short film on the Isle of Skye, in which she hopes to try her hand at Lensbaby videography.
Boone Speed is a force of nature in the climbing photography industry. An avid climber himself, Speed has created images that portray the essence of the sport and its settings.
“I shoot the way I see and how that makes me feel. My photography is commonly described as painterly, minimal and emotionally charged…and I agree with those descriptions and consider them a compliment.”
Speed’s visual voice is powerful, organic, and entirely unique.
“I have ideas and thoughts to share. And then I think my photography style is just a natural expression of who I am…like my fingerprints. We all have them…I want my images to be minimal, with a defined point of focus. Just the essence. No clutter.”
His experience in the climbing field directly empowers his approach to photography, not to mention his impact.
“You know…it’s my world…I’m photographing what I know. I’ve been traveling the world as a climber and outdoor athlete for many years and I’ve helped shape that world and, I guess, even what modern adventure photography looks like to a certain degree.”
Speed’s process is both linear and flexible, respectful of and enchanted by the uncertainty inherent in outdoor adventure photography.
“I first consider what the objective is and how and at what scale the photography will be used. Then I assess each location, consider time of day, light source whether it’s natural or reflected or hot or strobe, what access is like, potential weather issues…you can see that it gets very complicated very quickly. And each variable will add a conflict to resolve. And solving each conflict can have adverse effects on other variables. Maybe this is why I never get bored.”
Conflict can be challenging, but for Speed failure is simply not an option. When asked if he would ever give up on his work he commented:
“No, never. I would literally rather die trying… I’m a staunch believer of following one’s passions, and crafting a life and career around those passions. My passions are travel, adventure and art.”
Speed discovered Lensbaby very early on in our company’s history.
“I used tilt/shift lenses quite often and in 2007 a random Portland guy told me about a local guy who’d just started building lenses that flexed and blurred selectively… If I recall correctly I just went online, discovered ‘Lensbaby’ and got one of the original ones.”
Lensbaby fits in to Speed’s passion in both his personal and professional endeavors.
“Sometimes I’ll realize I haven’t just shot for myself in a while. And I’ll grab one of my small cameras (Fuji or Sony A7R2) and roll around with an Edge 80 and a Sweet 35 in my pocket. It makes it easy to zero in on the subject and get my desired minimal, painterly result.”
He’s used Lensbaby for a variety of shoots in a variety of settings, making incredible photographs.
“Travel, desert, coast. I especially love the Lensbaby in clean environments and for landscapes. Plus I also like that the lenses are small and easy to tote around.”
“It’s been a very important addition to my collection and allowed me to share the way I see things. If I choose the 100 favorite frames that I’ve ever shot, certainly a fair amount of those images were captured with a Lensbaby.”
Speed’s latest project takes the painterly elements of Lensbaby to a new level.
Recently I’ve been blending multiple Lensbaby frames for some really beautiful painterly landscape results. This is an ongoing, developing style I’m working on in partnership with Flavor Paper for large scale mural installations.
Both Griggi and Speed experimented with Lensbaby in their challenging, physical, powerful photography – they took the time to bend the realms of sheer rock and massive swells to their own perspective.
To Griggi, Lensbaby is like “a third eye” -it allows her to look at something in a different way.
For Speed, Lensbaby is “A paintbrush for your camera. But a paintbrush that’s chopped up and chops the shit out of things.”
See more of their work below: