Hopeless romantic with a hardened work philosophy
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 6 March, 2016 - It happened one day while going surfing. Ricky Lesser grabbed his camera and water-housing instead of his surfboard. Then it happened again. And yet again. So began his slide into surf photography.
Lesser studied visual journalism and takes his work seriously. He’s always prepared for the unexpected with charged batteries and camera at the ready and guided by a philosophy that there is no sense to taking pictures unless you are conscious about what you are shooting and why. Yes, serious. Conversely he’s also a self-described hopeless romantic.
What’s the when a hopeless romantic with a hardened work philosophy burns up some megapixels? Landscapes. Stunning, amazing landscapes that just happen to have waves in them.
Where are you from and what you shoot with?
I am from Manhattan Beach California just south of Los Angeles. Usually I shoot with a Nikon D4 or D800
How did surf photography start for you?
Like most surf photographers I love to be in the water. It is only natural to want to capture the amazing environment you find yourself in. The more time I spent in the water the more I wanted to document the things that were happening. And I knew I had a serious issue on my hands when if the conditions looked amazing I would go for the housing rather than the board. And for the record this was before the Go-Pro revolution where every kid and his mom shoots empty waves. Back then water shots were not an over-saturated item.
Share with us something that most people don’t know about surf photography.
As painfully typical as it may sound only those who do it know the feeling. Obvious right? Its an addiction. It brings more joy, nerve, challenge, fulfillment into my life than any other type of photography I have tried. Sitting in the saltwater literally changes my mood and actually changes the ph level in the human body. How’s that fun fact?
Tell us about that one time you almost died, on a surf trip or in the water.
No near death experience, that I remember… closest thing would be getting caught inside at pipe on a solid Second Reef day when a north set popped up out the back. Everyone took it on the head. I was still pretty new to the situation but Seth Stafford (Legend) helped me through the situation. Good times!
Name one photographic image you saw that changed the way you approach photography.
I feel that I should leave the venue of surf. Sometime around 2006 I stumbled upon an old issue of Newsweek or Time. It was the 9-11 special edition. I have an odd fixation about September 11th. I remember studying the images as if they were school work, I did happen to be a student of visual journalism at the time. I came across a picture of three men silhouetted by an orange cloud of dust, and debris from the fallen towers.
The shot was taken by the unmistakable James Nachtwey. From that image I took away a few things; Always have batteries charged, a camera close and breathe. Breathe! It is quite possible the best piece of advice. Air, the more of it we get the better we think, the more we consider what is in our frame the more personal it becomes. There is no sense to taking pictures unless you are conscious about what you are shooting and why.