TransWorld SURF is proud to add veteran California surf photographer William “Sharpy” Sharp to the team! Here’s a quick chat with the Ventura County based ace…
How long have you been shooting?
I started in the early ’70s. Which I guess makes me an old guy…
Pretty much anything that moves but I’m lucky to shoot Dane Reynolds on a regular basis. So, I’d say Daner…
I was asked by Larry “Flame” Moore to switch from Nikon to Canon back in. I think it was the late ’80s. So I’ve been a Canon guy ever since.
Favorite place to shoot?
That would have to be… no. Then maybe… not that either. Oh well, maybe any place that has good waves.
Last cover shot?
That would be a cutty of Dane Reynolds in El Salvador a couple of years ago for Surfing Magazine.
First published photo?
It was a shot in ing for a Hal Jepson flick We Got Surf but I can’t remember who it was. The surfer was doing a bottom turn at Supertubes though. I do remember the first ad I got was for Sol beer. It was an overview of Malibu. I think I got paid $75.00 and I was on cloud nine for a week.
How often do you get confused with Bill Sharp the kneeboarder/XXL guy?
How’s this: I was a kneeboarder who’s parents owned a place off 10th St. in Newport Beach from ’65 to the late ’70s—the same time Bill was charging the Wedge and making a name for himself. That was weird. But, and I don’t think Bill remembers, I was shooting for ing when he became editor there. I was trying real hard to crack the inner circle of photogs back then and here he comes in as editor. I actually decided to switch my name to William because of the confusion. He moved onto bigger and better things i.e. Katin, K2, and then the XXL thing. So yeah there was a time…
Film or digital?
I was literally the last guy to switch from film to digital. I switched back in ’05 to a Canon Mark2 1n and never looked back.
What’s the trick to shooting photos of sensitive surf spots?
I guess living near the sensitive spots is important. Getting your truck keyed and all you tires cut doesn’t help, but I endured… It was hard back in the day when localism was rapid. I paid my dues pretty hard back then. I’d say if there is anything I would comment on is how easy today’s photogs have it when it comes to localism. Everybody takes it for granted nowadays—like it never existed. But it actually made me a stronger person because of all of that stuff I had to go through.
Any advice you can give up and coming photogs?
I’d say to get to know the ins and outs of the surf spots in your area. Don’t spend all your time driving to other areas. Work your zone as hard as you can. In the end the mags, sponsors and whoever else will be more stoked that you get the goods at a spot you know and love, then to travel into someone else’s area to get your images. After that hook up with the best talent at those spots and start killing it!