Claire Butler: Cape Town Photographer
Claire Butler is a Cape Town based Sports photographer who has an incredible talent for shooting surf and ocean photography. Blessed with picturesque landscapes and clean waters, Claire takes to both land and sea in search of a great action photograph that speaks of movement, danger and excitement. Not only does she portray the surfers in a very unique sense, she captures a piece of time with the surfer, the wave and the location in one. Head over to her personal website to see her great portfolio!
DH: What equipment do you currently shoot with?
Claire: Canon 7D usually with a 70-200mm f2.8 lens-
DH: Tell us about your background and what got you into surf photography?
Claire: I’m a born-and-bred Capetonian – have lived in Cape Town all my life. I started surfing when I was 11, and with that came an addiction to all things surfing-related. My bedroom walls were always lined with amazing images of surfing so I think subconsciously my passion for surf photography had already started at a young age. After high school I went to UCT and studied film and media production but soon decided that I preferred still images to moving ones and took up photography as a hobby. At the same time I stopped surfing and took up wakeboarding, and when I was wasn’t riding at the cable park, I was taking pictures of the other riders. I unfortunately got injured in 2010 and had to stop wakeboarding, which meant weekends were spent back at the beach surfing or watching my boyfriend surf. So I started shooting surfers instead of wakeboarders and just fell in love with the genre.
DH: You shoot a range of material, not just surfing. Tell us about your work, and your style?
Claire: I’m still in the early days of building up my photography career so I’m keen to try my hand at all genres of photography. My current work reflects that – landscapes, action shots, portraits, wildlife, events etc.. I prefer a fly-on-the-wall / documentary approach to taking photographs. I’m not a huge fan of posed or staged photography. I like to capture the moment as I see it rather than try and construct it. –
DH: What or who inspires your work?
Claire: In terms of my surfing photography I’d have to say that firstly the surfers inspire me. It’s incredible watching them ride, especially on the bigger days. Capturing and sharing their stoke as they come out of a massive barrel or airdrop down the face of an insane wave…it’s an incredible and inspiring sport in itself. Other inspirations would definitely be local surf photographers such as Alan van Gysen & Greg Ewing. Internationally I’m totally inspired by the work of Chris Burkard, Sarah Lee and Clare Plueckhahn, to name a few. There are so many photographs that one just sees on a daily basis via facebook or twitter that are amazing and awe-inspiring.
DH: Where have been your favourite locations to shoot / travel / surf?
Claire: I haven’t yet had the opportunity to travel to any amazing surfing destinations, but a number of trips are on the cards for next year. Locally I love to shoot Jbay, Llandudno and a certain beach break, which I probably shouldn’t name but you’ll see it in a lot of my pics. Other than that I’d have to say my favourite “photographic” holiday to date would have to be Stockholm in Sweden. It’s an incredible city and I was able to capture some beautiful images there.
DH: Do you prefer shooting from land of from the water?
Claire: Tough one. Being in the water is more challenging and when you nail the shot it feels more rewarding. But I’m a sucker for pulled back line-up shots from the land. Both produce such different results, and you can be super creative with both, so I’m going to sit on the fence on this question and say both!
DH: Finally, for fans of your work, is it possible for people to purchase any of your photos from you or elsewhere…?
Tell us what you think about Claire’s photo’s in a comment below;