April 08, 2022
My name is Ridge BenBen (yes, that’s my real name!) and I grew up In Dana Point, CA. I’m 26 years old and I’m currently a full-time photographer.
Initially, I got into photography purely just for fun. I spent a lot of time at the beach with my good buddy, Vince, and our friend Nyjah gave us a GoPro, so we started filming each other bodysurfing in the shore break. I was much more into drawing and painting at the time, but I started taking empty wave photos that I could use as references for my paintings. That didn’t last long, and I got pretty hooked on shooting in the water. I’ve been shooting for about seven years now and professionally for the last four to five years.
I don’t really have a specific spot I like to shoot around home. Normally I’ll go to where the people I’m shooting like to surf. We’ve got some pretty great setups for shooting water photography between Dana Point and San Diego. As far as shooting outside of California, New Zealand will always be one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to shoot.
Surf photography has definitely taken a bit of a backseat to my other photography as of late. I really like shooting portraits and other imagery that helps to tell a story about a person or athlete for different brands.
Always a great time working with the Bing crew! Everyone is so easy to work with and we usually end up with some great imagery. I’ve been doing a lot of work with the Dark Seas crew as of late, and at the start of this year I became an “Advocate of Capture” for Reef.
Some of my favorites to shoot with are Joe Kisling, Will Allen, Mick Rodgers, Kris Hall, & JJ Wessels. I would definitely like to shoot with more females moving forward, but I have worked with Mele Saili, which was awesome because she’s extremely talented and has a beautiful style. One of my favorite images of a female surfer so far would have to be Justine Dupont at Jaws on Maui. I was out shooting for Dark Seas and she was charging as always.
I have a ton of different gear I use depending on the type of images I need. Most of my water photography is shot on a digital setup. I love shooting portraits on medium format film and lately I’ve been using a Mamiya 645. I like to switch it up and sometimes I’ll use my Nikonos or my waterproof Super 8 cameras in the water as well. Every camera requires you to approach shooting differently and that helps me to stay creative and have some range in my work.
A couple photographers I get inspiration from are John Hook, Ryan Murphy, Justin Bettman, Dean Martindale, Sebastian Zanella, Will Adler, and so many more. The list is endless!
I’ve never had any serious injuries while shooting in the water, but I have taken a head slam on the sand here and there. The biggest trauma I’ve ever gone through would definitely be on my bank account after one of my waterhousings flooded. That was horrible!
Social media sucks. Just kidding! I think it can be used to your advantage and help get eyes on your work. But it has made a space for this crazy amount of “content creation” and sometimes true art gets hidden underneath all that. I do my best to not have my business depend on it and make sure I don’t fall into a cycle of feeling the pressure to constantly be putting out work purely to “succeed” on social media channels.
Some words of advice I’d have for people just starting out: Be a part of the space/culture you are creating in. Let work sit, and wait out trends before you make a decision about how you want to share/use the work. If it’s good work, you will still like it as much in a year as you did when you saw it on the back of your camera.
I’m stoked to be heading down to Sayulita for about three weeks for the Mexi Log Fest and to shoot some work with my buddy Joe Kisling for Dark Seas. I am also working on a book that I believe will be done in the next few months!Ridgebenben.com
May 05, 2022
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