Safrea Cover Showcase 1 | Larry Bentley

Splashes in Focus

Welcome to the extended version of the Safrea Cover Showcase where we display the work of our talented Safrean photographers. What fascinates me most about photography is not necessarily what’s on the image, but more often, what’s not. Although the Showcase is used to exhibit our photographers’ work, I also want to tell you more about the people behind the lens.

Today’s conversation is with Larry Bentley. Zululanders will know him for his photojournalism in the region. In 2013, he was the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Environmental Journalist of the Year. To buy Larry’s work and special merchandise, visit his website, or find him on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram.

Key Questions

Larry, what inspires you to shoot each day?

I’ve had various role models over the years, either in person or online. However, self-discipline and setting my own standards inspire me the most. The main goal is always to get that special shot.

#safreacovershowcase: A male surfer, Torrey Meister, holds onto his surfboard with one hand as he executes an inverted air reverse and soars above the wave.
Torrey Meister, soaring above the wave in an inverted air reverse – Ballito Pro

How difficult was it to get the feature shot for today’s showcase?

Surfing is one of the more challenging sports to photograph. Getting sharp images with rolling waves and the surfer on the board is difficult, especially when you have to deal with the sun. The absence of a fixed track or playing field makes it difficult to follow the surfers from moment to moment throughout their rides, especially during the split seconds of the air manoeuvres.

Do you believe the art of photography is dying due to digital?

While digital has allowed many new photographers to practise their craft, digital is more forgiving than traditional film cameras because the result of your shot can be seen almost immediately, and settings can be adjusted. But the three basic elements still apply:

  • knowing your equipment;
  • knowing the subject, its possibilities and limitations; and
  • patience.
A male surfer, Shane Sykes, rides the cusp of a wave as he prepares to turn and continue his ride.
Shane Sykes rips the curl at the start of a turn – Ballito Pro

What is your thought process when you capture images – while and after?

My thought processes start long before the event. At surfing events, sand or sea spray blowing onto the equipment may pose problems, and rocks can give you a good vantage point for the action but can also be very dangerous. I navigate these risks by talking to the organisers and other photographers who might know the venue better than I do, beforehand. If possible, I drive to the venue the day before to confirm positions and to determine the travelling time to get to the location. Checking the lighting and the sun’s position is key. But the most important thing is to always be ready for the unexpected and adapt to the changing conditions.

Do you believe in heavy editing, or do you give us the image captured?

My editing is mostly restricted to cropping. I try to get the settings correct on camera. Unfortunately, I initially missed many opportunities due to incorrect settings. With proper planning and an understanding of your camera’s limitations, these errors can be largely eliminated.

A female surfer, Nicole Pallet, bends low on her surfboard with white waves crashing around her.
Nicole Pallett keeps low, negotiating the waves towards the end of her ride – Ballito Pro

Join Safrea if you are a #freelancephotographer and want to be featured in the @MediaHub’s #safreacovershowcase.

To see more of Helene’s work, visit her column, Where Words Take Us, or join her on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Safrea or its members.


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