From Jaws with Love

Winter is when all the huge swells get sent to Hawaii from the monster storms in the Pacific. It also means the surfing world is about to camp out in my back yard, and it makes me super fired up to go out and shoot. How lucky am I? The best surfers on the planet are coming to my backyard to ride the world's most insane waves.

I was so stoked when I got the call that Jaws would breaking and the WSL Big Wave was on. I just got the new Canon 5Ds, the one that has the 50 mega-pixel sensor, and I was dying to shoot with it for the first time.

But before you can shoot at Jaws you have to figure out how to get on the water, and this time the folks from Skull-Base Group agreed to give me a ride on one of their skis. These guys all grew up surfing this spot, so I knew I would be safe and they would get me as close as possible and Id always have a good angle. The truth is, you can't get a good shot if you have a bad ski driver, so I was was super stoked. But, if you're even remotely nervous about being face to face with insanely heavy water, I would not recommend this route no matter how good your driver is.

The event was sick, and it was insane to be in the water with the surfers. My new Canon 5Ds with the 50 MP sensor means I can print the pics huge, which is exactly why I got it. I've shot here many times before, but the new camera gave me another level of enthusiasm. I can blow the images up the size of a wall, or crop in and still have great quality. I can hardly wait to see one of my pictures covering a whole wall!

During the event I shot a couple thousands pictures. The 5Ds shoots 7 frames a second instead of my 1 DX that shoots like 12 frames a second. All that means is I had to be more precise shooting the 5Ds, but I'm pretty sure the end result will be pretty awesome.

I spent a few hours amongst some of the craziest individuals on this planet. Watching the young ladies in those conditions was truly crazy. It was so extremely difficult out there. The waves were barely rideable even for the guys who've surfed those conditions before. Most of the women had never even attempted anything like that before, and some had never even ridden at Jaws before. I have crazy respect for the girls who were out there charging on those super heavy waves.

After the competition I returned home to Oahu. I should have sent out all the good pics but I decided to not worry about it until later, and I went to sleep instead. I was so tired! But I know these photos have their place in history. I'll leave the mad internet rush to the kids, and this time my shots will wait and be seen when the time is right.

It was such an awesome trip. The night I got back I fell asleep thinking that I'm a surfer, but what I'd seen today was no mere mortals surfing. These were wave warriors doing what they knew how to do. They rode moving mountains of water better than anyone else on the planet. Then I fell asleep.

Brian Bielmann

Brian Bielmann is an award winning surf photographer.  His images have graced more than 150 magazine covers and have appeared in iconic magazines such as, Rolling Stone, Vogue, Men's Journal, National Geographic, and Sports Illustrated. 


His client list includes Anheiser-Busch, Guinness, Red Bull, Quicksilver, Billabong, Reef, Sanuk, DCShoes and Western Digital among others. Brian was also the senior staff photographer for TransWorld Surf Magazine for 14 years.

Even after nearly four decades of surf photography, Bielmann is still having the time of his life. His dedication, love of the lens, and surfing will continue to grow and affect the way the world sees the surfing lifestyle.

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