Diogo O'Drey, In Water We Trust; Surf Photography Essay

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Introducing Diogo O'Drey, A.K.A. In Water We Trust...I say introducing him, but there is probably a good chance you have seen his work already with Cover shots including Tracks Magazine and Carve Magazine, as well as his most recently release, a film project with Surfer Magazine called Point Perfection.

I am STOKED to say that Diogo is now an ambassador for SETT too, and as a part of this, I look forward to sharing some of his amazing work with you in the future. As a taster, I asked Diogo to send over some of his favourite shots, with a little explanation of what makes them so special to him.

Scroll on down to see the photo essay below, but to kick things off, lets learn a little bit more about Diogo, and what makes him tick.

Why photograph the ocean/waves?  

The ocean has been my playground since I was a kid. It’s my main source of joy, happiness and peace. When I enter the water, I still feel like that young boy from Rio, who was surfing with the locals while his friends were all playing football or training BJJ.  

I’ve always been really good in barrels and felt super safe and comfortable in the water. Because no matter how much you love surfing or water photography, if you’re scared and don’t feel safe it’s never going to work. It’s like being a fighter who’s afraid to get punched in the face. Doesn’t matter how much you love what you do, you have to have that courage in you. 

So eventually my biggest passion became my career. Water photography is one of the things I do best in life. It keeps me healthy and in shape, happy and excited. 

Diogo O'Drey In Water We Trust

What is your favourite local spot to photograph waves? Tell me a little bit about this place and why this place is so special. Is there any danger involved? 

I divide my time between Bali and Portugal, so I have several spots.

In Portugal it’s Supertubos. The wave is a barrel, it’s a great place to swim and try different angles, that’s where the images I have in my head really come to life. It’s also a perfect place to shoot with a fisheye, which is my signature style. 

In Bali there’s Padang Padang, one of the most famous waves. And when you get there there’s already 10-15 photographers in the water. That place pushed me to search for different positions and angles, and that helped me grow a lot as a professional.

Then there’s this right hander where I shoot very often, it’s around the corner from a very famous spot, totally overlooked. That’s where I often take my boys to work. It’s special because it’s next to where I live, breaks really big and it’s the place where I shot around 8 cover shots. And I love to surf there myself.

In the days of car park syndrome, where everyone goes to the same popular locations, that place reminds me that if you look hard enough you can always find something unique, if you drive a little more you’ll find your own wave that is as good or even better than the famous spots. 

All of my favourite spots are dangerous, shallow and sharp, which helps to keep the crowds away. There’s always the danger of getting run over because of how close I shoot, and I can always drown depending on how big it is. 

Is there a place around the world that you wish you could go back and photograph again or is there a new place you would like to go?   

The place I’d like to go is Teahupoo in Tahiti. I’ve never been and I think I could do some amazing work there that would compliment my style. 

Then there are two waves in Mentawai, Greenbush and The hole. They’re really good barrels, and I had the luck to be there on very big days with very good surfers. Some of the images I was able to create there I am proud of to this very day. 

There’s always an element of danger. You know that if you stay in the safe zone you’ll get your average shot, and get the same photo everyone’s already seen before. So I constantly push myself and try and find new amazing angles, but that always comes at the cost of my safety. 


Diogo O'Drey Greenbush

 Staying in your comfort zone will always get you an average shot. Constantly push yourself to try and find new amazing angles, even if they sometimes come at the cost of your safety.


Matt Bromley Nias by Diogo O'Drey

@bromdog7 charging in Nias.  Fearless surfer + Nias on a good day = perfect combo.


Diogo O'Drey

@wavering_emoceans and his first time surfing one of the deadliest waves in Portugal. Who cares about the lack of water when you have a local charger like @antoniosilvasurfer to guide you.

Diogo O'Drey Greenbush

 @t_a_k9 in Greenbush, Indonesia. I have to admit, as a water photographer I find most of my older work pretty boring. But some waves still make my heart skip a beat. Rest in Peace, you salty soul. Hope you’re charging it up there.


Diogo O'Drey Louie Hynd

@LouieHynd racing the Bush, Indonesia. No matter how big and scary the waves get, there’s something about Greenbush that makes me feel safe to try the craziest angles.


Diogo O'Drey Joao De Macedo

@joaodemacedo7 at his home break, taking a day off from the Nazamadness. I’m glad he cut me some slack and let me shoot him under a wave that is not the size of a skyscraper. 


Diogo O'Drey Antonio Silva

 People asked me what was the best experience during shooting this project for Surfer.com. Without doubt, it’s seeing my best friend @antoniosilvasurfer getting the barrel of his life. 

If you want to follow Diogo direct, you can catch him here:

Bali Photography Portugal surf surf photography Waves

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