Wild swimming, travelling light & ocean obsession – with Emily Endean
If you Google ‘Thalassophile’, it really should come back with ‘Emily Endean, photographer’. We are on the case with the search engines and Wikipedia (or should that be Wilki-pedia?!)
In her own words, Emily is obsessed, ‘and I mean obsessed’ with the ocean – and you’ll find her either by the sea, or in it, almost every day – all year round!
Currently celebrating, Emily has just been announced as one of the new judges for UK Landscape Photographer of the Year, after her image ‘Rushing By’ was commended, as well as having LPOTY award success in 2018 as well.
We managed to catch up with Emily while enjoying a brief spell on dry land, to find out more…
‘I moved to Bournemouth at the age of 4, not too long after picking up my first camera. I just loved capturing moments on film! I always remember sending off those rolls of film and waiting to see what came back. Most weren’t even in focus but I loved it anyway! I still have a few of those early photos.
‘Fast forward to my wife gifting me my first DSLR in 2013 – it was a huge game changer. It was here I embarked on my landscape journey. The decision to set my alarm to capture my first sunrise was definitely one of the best decisions I ever made. I’ve been hooked ever since!
‘During the week, I work in insurance. It’s something I kind of fell into and was never my chosen career path. As the photography picked up and I started to shoot weddings, families, sell the odd print and a small income was coming in, I decided to go part time. So now the other days are dedicated to growing my photography business.’
‘Back in those early days I shot Nikon, I had a full frame and a crop sensor body. I loved those cameras. That was the kit on which I learned my craft.
‘Around 2 years ago and after having enough of carrying a very heavy kit bag around India, I made my decision to move to mirrorless. I was looking for something smaller, lighter and easier for travel. I made the move to Fujifilm and purchased an X-T3 and various lenses. It was another great decision for me. I am in love with the Fuji X series system. So intuitive! I’m not so technically minded and most of what I shoot, or use, is based more on a feeling rather than an overly technical review.
‘With my love of seascapes, from shooting on the shoreline to being out in the deep, I also use the GoPro Hero 8. The GoPro allows such a different perspective and also something else I never considered, being able to produce prints that people now purchase for their walls. What a massive honour!’
Camera or action cam?
‘I am obsessed with the ocean. I mean obsessed! If I’m not photographing it from the shoreline then I’m neck deep in it! I want to record my whole experience on camera so when on the shore, it’s an easy choice for me. The Fuji wins everytime!
‘However, when out in the water I am slightly torn. I have an Aquapac housing for my Fuji which I have to say, I would love to invest in something more robust and reliable but in order to do that it’s a pricey game so I might have to work towards that one!
‘The GoPro allows me to swim out as far as I like with no worries about the system as it’s completely waterproof. It also allows for a very different perspective, so my favoured system will be dependant on what I am looking to achieve from day to day!’
Few people can call the ocean ‘work’. How does that make you feel?
‘The sea is my connection to nature and being part of something so much bigger. Something with so much more meaning than the day-to-day life we usually experience. To be out in the ocean as the sun comes up and to see in the new day is out of this world. The way the water holds you up and supports you… it’s just something beyond words.
‘I always loved being in the sea as a child and this feeling has remained with me to this day. I have lots of fond memories of jumping the waves on stormy days with my Mum and my Gran. That’s probably why now, I just love being out in the ocean no matter the weather! As for calling it work – well, it’s something I do just for me.’
‘The fact that people want to purchase my work as a printed image and share lovely comments and feedback with me on social media, well that’s just the icing on the cake!’
This year, there’s been an exponential growth in the number of people seeking solace in our oceans, rivers and lakes. What tips would you give for shooting while in the sea, swimming or surfing?
‘My top tips are definitely to be fully immersed and to enjoy the experience – that goes for swimming and photography! Try and follow your mind’s eye and intuition. In all honesty that’s how I shoot. If I am using the GoPro or the Fuji and shooting calm waters, then I’m looking for a shallow depth of field, focusing in on a particular patch of the water (which cannot be done on the GoPro – so that’s a bit hit and miss!).
‘I really enjoy capturing the ripples and movement of the water this way. To get the rising sun as a backdrop is always an added bonus! As for shooting the surf, you need a quick lens, quick settings. A surfer might finish riding that wave in with a quick movement that is the perfect capture, but you need to be ready – and fast!
‘Going back to the swimming, its getting cold now so if anyone is thinking of trying it, then start to condition yourself with cold showers. Try 30 seconds cold water at the end of your showers, building up to a minute or two or whatever you are comfortable with. When you are ready to take a dip in the ocean, make sure you have a hot coffee and lose warm clothing for afterwards. Sometimes the after drop can be worse than the cold water! You will need to get dry, dressed and warm as quick as you can! It’s really good to be safe and have a swim buddy, especially if you are new to open water swimming. There are so many groups around the country, do a quick search on social media to find experienced swimmers in your local area.
‘I am totally addicted to that great feeling it provides, both mentally and physically!’
What’s you’re favourite swim spot/sea related image?
‘It’s so hard to chose a fave swim spot when we are so blessed with beautiful coastline down here on the South Coast. I like to mix it up with different beaches too – which keeps it interesting. As for my favourite sea related image – it’s this one. This was one of the first taken on my GoPro Hero 8 and I decided to have it printed up big for my lounge wall. The ocean is a huge part of mine and my wife’s life, so it’s lovely to be able to see it everyday!
You have a HUGE following on Instagram – what do you think people most connect with in your images?
‘I think it may be my dedication, or some may say obsession with all things photography and ocean related. I do pour my heart out on my posts, both visually and sometimes by waffling on in words. Sometimes I am impressed if people actually read to the end!
‘I find on both facebook and Instagram it is many of the same people who interact with me and that’s really nice. We may not know each other but it’s lovely to have a connection, that common ground.’
Do you have a more popular subject eg seascape or landscape? Any tips for those just starting to share their work on Instagram on how best to engage their target audience?
‘I’d say my seascapes are more popular, but that could be as more passion comes from me, through those images.
‘As for tips, I’d say shoot and share what you truly enjoy and get that passion from. That will always shine through.’
‘As with all things photography related, only shoot what you want to and don’t feel you need to fit a box or fit in with other accounts which you follow and see doing well. Find your own way.’
You shoot a wide range of subjects including commercial work and weddings – is this a large part of your business?
‘I just love photography through and through – anything I can capture with my lens, then I am there!
‘I love learning to hone my skills on new genres and by doing so it always keeps things fresh and interesting. Commercial work and weddings definitely help to pay the bills and I see a huge sense of achievement presenting images to a client or a newlywed couple who love how I have represented their day, or their brand.
‘Landscapes and more specifically, seascapes, are where my passion is for me. I just love nature and the ocean and that escape it can offer from any daily worries.’
Congratulations are in order too! Your image ‘Rushing by’ has been commended in Landscape Photographer of the Year 2020 and will feature in their annual book. Previous achievements also include LPOTY 2018, British Photography Awards and International Garden Photographer of the Year. What drives you to enter awards? What do you get back from the experience? Apart from winning of course!
‘Thank you so much! I enter, as I see it as a challenge. I never consider winning and it’s really not about that. In all honesty, all I look for is recognition in being shortlisted or commended in my field. To make the book for LPOTY twice has actually been beyond my wildest dreams! Also to be runner up at the BPA’s and have the chance to attend the dinner at the Savoy, well that was an experience I’ll not likely to have again – it was incredible!
‘I’ll be taking a break from entering the competition for 2021 though as Charlie Waite and the team have invited me on board the judging panel. I can’t quite believe it to be honest! The fact they regard my work so highly to be in a position to work alongside them next year is pretty mind blowing! It feels a little overwhelming but I am definitely excited for the challenge!’
You’re also very involved with The Guild of Photographers – how do you find that – would you recommend and why?
‘I love The Guild for the sense of community, also, for the challenge of entering the monthly competitions and to be able to progress and learn from others. The opportunity to become qualified too!
‘It’s all just another part in stepping up my photography game and helps me gauge if I am managing to improve year on year. The support from the team there along with all my peers is truly heart-warming. I can’t recommend them enough!’
Living on the coast, you clearly have a beautiful playground right on your doorstep. But once travel is back to normal will you venture further afield again?
‘Thanks to this odd year, I have totally fallen in love with my local area even more than before and I’m still enjoying capturing my local surroundings. I always have that need to travel, to see new things and enjoy new experiences. I think one place that I’ve always wanted to visit is Iceland – cliché I know but it’s something I need to see with my own eyes and capture with my own lens!’
You currently offer a range of your own workshops – what can people expect? Are these suitable for anyone?
‘(Covid Permitting) I offer 1-2-1s and small groups where I have a passion for sharing my knowledge and getting people used to getting the best out of the scene in front of them.
‘It could be getting out of auto, controlling the exposure and shutter speed etc to be creative with it too! Or I can even cater for someone who knows how to use his or her camera but would like to visit a location and try something new. Happy to share all hints and tips!
‘I never pretend to know everything there is to know, it’s always a learning game – but I do know what works for me and am very happy to share this with anyone who wants to learn. Covid has unfortunately put a stop to most workshops this year but hopefully 2021 will see a re-launch, so keep your eyes peeled!’
Win an Emily Endean 2021 calendar:
All you need to do is head over to our Facebook page and comment on this post telling us your new year photo plans, projects or dreams and one lucky person will be chosen at random. You’ve got until January 5th 2021.
To see more of Emily’s amazing ocean based images (and other subjects!) visit: