How to Live Your Surfing Dreams. Part 2 - The Wedding Photographer

In this series we're seeking out inspirational people who have built their lives around the ocean - pioneers who have decided that salt water must be taken at least five times a week and so have made the beach their office and the tide their alarm clock.

When we saw the shot below on the Twittersphere some time last month we knew we had to get in touch with its creator. Here was someone who clearly had a deep conection with and understanding of the ocean. What's more, he seemed to have interwoven this with a career, taking some of the most beautiful and original wedding shots we've seen in a long time.

We hope you enjoy the art and inspiring words of photographer and waterman, Gregory Cain.

Hey Gregory, thanks for agreeing to chat with us. Could you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Sure thing, it’s always a pleasure getting to talk about my craft and passion for the ocean.

I’m the owner of Cain Photo Studios. We are a destination wedding photography company that focuses on visual story telling with a super unique style of underwater photography.

Basically my aspiration is to make romantic images that look like they belong in Outside Magazine or on the cover of National Geographic. Between weddings I also accept water assignments covering surfing, freediving, SUP, and various NGO’s that focus on ocean conservation.

I love the underwater wedding shots – especially the trash the dress in the surf shots! Where did the idea come from?

Thanks! I had seen some trash the dress material floating around the wedding photography scene but most of the stuff I saw was kinda cheesy. So I decided to do it but with my own style.

I had never seen anyone shoot a bride and groom using ‘over unders’ from the water. This perspective is one that I am super passionate about in all my water work so I started making this shot something specific to my brand and style.

It’s awesome hearing clients say “I’ve never seen a wedding photo like that”. As for the couple tandem surfing in their wedding clothes, they actually came up with the idea! And let me tell you, these two were relentless, they were super determined to catch at least one wave tandem with all of their clothes on. It was freakin awesome to see such commitment to fun and I think the images show that passion.

They did it!

Was it hard to get people to buy the idea at first?

Well at first I just started taking photos for my friends, but as soon as people began to see what was possible, they began approaching me for similar shoot ideas. When you’re part of the surf and dive community like I am, it’s easy to meet people who are excited to mix their two loves into one photo shoot.

I guess that many of the people who are attracted to your work have an affinity with the water. Does that generally make for a mellower clientele, or do you still get the odd bridezilla (or groomzilla!).

From a business standpoint, I’m blessed with all around awesome clients and not one type more than the other. That being said, my favourite clients are couples who want me to get into the water with my waterproof housing (whether they want to get wet or not) and really push the envelope of what is possible. In a world that is so inundated with images and content it’s cool to be out there shooting something that really is unique.

We’re always hearing that you should just do what you love, but this can be hard to sustain financially if what you love is surfing – or even photography. It seems like you’ve managed to successfully combine two things you’re passionate about into a viable business, with a great work/watertime balance. Would you be able to tell us a bit about your journey – what were the hardest things to overcome and what have you learned?

Honestly building my own business has to be one of the most difficult things I have ever done, and in my mind, it’s still very much in its infancy. I can’t tell you how many countless Friday nights I’ve spent working late and freaking out about my business and having enough money.

Then again if it was easy, everyone would do it right? The hardest two lessons I have had to learn is; how to separate my feelings from the business end of photography, and learning how to say no. This is something every creative professional has to go through at some point in their career and what it really boils down to is setting proper boundaries just like any successful relationship.

What you do takes you all over the world, and to some really great surf spots. Without giving anything away, where are some of your favourite places in the world to surf?

Honestly after having a gnarly back surgery I really don’t surf as much as I once did. But in a way, this has freed me up to be a more well rounded waterman. I am now a surf photographer, competitive freediver, avid spearfisherman, and a very passionate SUP surfer and paddler. That being said, I would have to say that Bali has a very special place in my heart. I have made some of my most epic photographs and landed some of my biggest fish on that beautiful island. Plus food is a really big deal for me and the Balinese know how to do it right.

Is there anywhere you’d really love to do a trash the dress in the surf photo shoot? Some big Indo barrels maybe?

I really want to get over to the Mentawais and take advantage of their insane water clarity. That and their spearfishing is supposed to be off the hook so that is an added bonus.

Be honest – do you always add a couple of days either side of a destination wedding to get a bit of water time in?

Yea for sure, I always try to plan some ‘in water’ time after one of my destination weddings, that’s part of the fun and balance that you talked about. It’s in those moments that all my hard work really pays off.

Do you have any advice for someone who might have their own idea about how to get more watertime into their lives, but might be holding back?

I think you need to ask yourself what’s really important in your life? I have had some really rough patches in the last 10 years but being inspired to stay healthy and be in the water has always been my root for inspiration.

Take the plunge - who knows where you'll end up!

Don’t get me wrong it’s going to take a lot of hard work and some seriously uncomfortable moments, but if you decide with all your heart that you want something, than nobody can stop you.

And finally, how can people contact you?

People can contact me through my wedding website http://www.cainphotostudios.com/ There is no destination too far to go for me to capture your special day. Otherwise, I’ll see you kids in the water.

Thanks so much for talking to us Greg - and thanks for sharing your amazing pictures.

Scroll down to see more of Greg's work, or click here to see even more of his ocean inspired trash the dress shots. (There are some sick surf shots in the 'personal' section of his site too!)

Enjoy this post? We'd be stoked if you'd give it a share!
Follow Johnny on the Spot surf app on Facebook or Twitter.

Surf writer? Surf photographer? Got an opinion to share or a surf related product to tell the world about? Why not become a Contributor to our blog? Email info@johnnyonthespot.co with the subject heading Submission.

Happy Surfing!