Photographers are they eyes to the world. They allow us to see things we can’t always view up close. They are there to inspire, inform and create intrigue. Carl Draper is part of that community and Waveslider Photography is a project anyone would be proud of…
Photography is universal. It can be interpreted by many different cultures in lots of different ways. It speaks to us in many different ways in the same way art does. Sometime we take it for granted but it never fails to inspire people. Carl Draper is a Bournemouth-based photographer who takes pride in his work and the photographs he takes. A family man with a big heart and an unrivalled love for his community, Carl is more than just a photographer. Waveslider Photography boasts a fascinating portfolio that is difficult to top.
After breaking his leg in a rescue in 2002, Carl decided to veer away from lifeguarding and pursued other projects. Projects the community once again would benefit from. We interviewed Carl and asked him what makes him tick, how he got into photography and what he plans to do next with his gift for capturing the world at its absolute finest.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP? AND WHAT MADE YOU MOVE TO BOURNEMOUTH?
HOW DID THAT COINCIDE WITH YOUR PASSION FOR PHOTOGRAPHY?
A lot of my friends are professional level surfers, some world level. So photographers were always around. I was (and still am) amazed at the sight of a barrel with a sunrise on the other side. I am obsessed with water and light!
Being around surfers who live and breathe it… you inevitably come across surf photographers.
BREAKING YOUR LEG MUST HAVE BEEN A MAJOR SETBACK. HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THE CHALLENGES AND GET INTO PHOTOGRAPHY?
To begin with, all I wanted to do was surf. Myself and a few mates who were also beach lifeguards got accepted into the Royal Marines. Our start date was 3rd September 1999.
On 29th July, I rescued a girl off Bournemouth Pier and broke my leg badly. My life in the Marines was over before it had begun. I wanted to be a paramedic in the Marines and join the boxing team. But it wasn’t to be.
People always say, “Everything happens for a reason”, until it happens to them or someone they love. I had over a year of operations and three years of rehab, so I qualified as a teacher and was hired by the RNLI Beach Rescue as their head trainer.
I trained all the beach lifeguards in Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth, which included the initial qualification and weekly staff training. This was cool but I wasn’t happy — I still wanted to learn and progress, so I joined the Ambulance Service and was based on front-line ambulances out of Poole for years.
I won an award for rescuing the girl: Dorset Local Hero 2002. I was also featured on BBC 999 Rescue programme and was offered to go to London to meet the Queen and receive an award. However, I refused the award because I believed that all the lifeguards should share the award. We work as a team, not as individuals.
WHEN DID YOU REALISE PHOTOGRAPHY WAS MORE OF A PASSION THAN A HOBBY?
I picked up my first DSLR camera in 2015 and never really looked back. As a surfer, I had loads of experience with the weather. We’re obsessed with it. I have intricate knowledge of this area, from the land to underwater.
Once you understand the weather, you begin to understand where to be and what time to be there. For me, it was a case of learning to make the camera do what I wanted it to do. Rather than learning how to use the camera. Getting a camera allowed my mind to spread its wings. I’ve always had a passion for art and creativity.
WHAT WAVESLIDER PHOTOGRAPHY PROJECTS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
Winning the Bournemouth Tourism Awards, working with the Army’s Red Devils and the Tigers Parachute team, gaining sponsors… the support I get is amazing.
I love everything I do with the camera. I’m just as happy in the sun on a summer’s day as I am in the rain or out in the sea getting hammered by a huge shore break. I have very few limits.
WHAT MAKES THE PERFECT PHOTO?
Knowing where to be and what time. Once you’re there, you can add your own creativity to the view in front of you. It doesn’t matter what kit you have… whether it’s a basic entry level camera or a top-end mirrorless camera with some fast glass. Buying the best oven money can buy doesn’t make you a chef.
WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO EQUIPMENT WHEN YOU WANT TO GET THE IDEAL PHOTO?
Either one of my GoPros, or my go-to main camera, which is my Nikon Z6 and Nikon 70-200 2.8 fled lens. I also love my Nikon 180-400 f4 fled. Amazing glass!
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR ASPIRING PHOTOGRAPHERS?
Believe in yourself, always, and even more so in today’s world of negativity and judgemental social media. Always believe in yourself and know your environment.
If you are an outdoors photographer, then you need to understand the weather as light changes by the second. Work with the strongest element first and ALWAYS have an escape route. The tide waits for no one.
TELL US A FUN FACT ABOUT YOURSELF. WHERE DOES THE NAME WAVESLIDER PHOTOGRAPHY COME FROM?
I’m a daddy; my kids and family are everything to me, including my dogs. I love to be around people who love looking up at the stars. And I use the name Waveslider as it’s my Xbox gamer tag!
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