The Price Is Right.  Shooting The Tides

The Price Is Right. Shooting The Tides

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Erica Price volunteered for this year’s Brooklyn Bridge Swim organized by NYC Swim.

I love the ocean and swimming. It’s humbling and wonderful [to volunteer], but there were volunteers giving out water and doing behind-the-scenes work who are the unsung heroes.”

The New York City-based photographer specializes in editorial photography and started her Tides series last year. She talked about her work.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What is the Tides series?

Erica Price: With Tides, I swim out and try to get candid shots of people in the ocean. Just like street photographers do in the streets. Though not 100% of the captures are pure candids, they are all unplanned. Started photographing the series last year. I went out 4 times a week for a few months. Continuing the series this year.

This year I also want to get a few more posed shots on the beach and get some notes and stories written down. I really enjoy the character of these swimmers. Some I see quite often. Most I don’t know, other than a casual hello.

After photographing them, I try to see them again and offer a print. Some underwater transparency would add a bit of more fun to the compositions.

I grew up near the shore. It is definitely a lot cleaner now than 15 years ago. I’ve been mainly situated around the Coney Island, Brighton Beach, and Sea Gate areas. I enjoy the stories of elderly swimmers the most, so most of my shots I have older people. I’ve seen photographers do features on surfers around the world. Recently saw someone did a series on English Channel swimmers, which seems to be closer to my style.


Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Why do you volunteer for the open water events? Why is it interesting or exciting?

Erica Price: Even if I can’t partake as a swimmer at times, I love the atmosphere of just being there. Photographing people while they’re in the water is super fun for me. As an avid swimmer I feel their excitement.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Are you a swimmer yourself?

Erica Price: Yes. I try to be out in the ocean in the Summer and the pool in the colder months. I tried swimming as late as late October last season to slowly acclimate myself for quick dips in the winter, but I caught a flu bug early in the season.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What is hard to photograph about open water swimming?

Erica Price: I try to situate myself in the water and get a low angle on the swimmers, to photograph them from a swimmer’s point of view. It’s my style of shooting. I use a waterproof point-and-shoot if I’m out swimming amongst the others or a soft ewa-marine case for my DSLR, which is the setup I used for this shoot, if I’m documenting the event. I can be out there in the bleachers with a long lens, but prefer to be as close as possible and shoot wide. You do need permission from the organizers or register as a volunteer to be able to get that close. In the end, I think everyone wins. Participants have a better chance of getting a photo of them in the race. The organization gets more photos to choose from for their site or blog. I get to be in the water and do what I love, taking photos.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How can you best capture images in the open water? What advice do you have for parents and friends who are taking photos of swimmers in the open water?

Erica Price: There are several tips:

a. If you’re using a camera housing, hard or soft, the main tip is to make sure you have a fresh enough silica pack in your camera housing. Things can get foggy.
b. Soft cases can be trickier. They’re made one size fits many cameras. I accidentally changed the camera settings close to the end of the race, completely unknowingly. So, check your settings often. The hard cases give you quicker access to your camera buttons, but it can be quite heavy if you don’t intend to keep it in the water most of the time. I chose a soft case for the Brooklyn Bridge Swim.
c. If the lens port gets wet and then starts to dry out, after a while, stubborn droplets will form and they can ruin a great shot. Salt water also leaves more residue. So you need to actively dunk the camera in and out of the water. The spit trick works well as an anti-fogging agent.
d. Always wash your cameras out with fresh water after getting back onto dry land. Don’t forget to hydrate yourself as well.
e. Patience and practice.
f. Try to find out what the race course is before you get there and get there early to find a few unique vantage points.
g. Work as a group with other photographers. Try to group together and discuss where you will be shooting. In the heat of a moment it’s easy to forget there are others trying to get their shot too. It’s about the event and the swimmers.


For more information on Erica Price, visit here. For her Tides series, visit here.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association