How POV cameras have turned today’s athletes into artists

Nick Woodman first started selling small waterproof video cameras that could be attached to surfers’ boards almost ten years ago to the day. His goal then was a very modest one: allow the average surfer to get his own incredible “point of view” water shots–like the kinds that people marveled at in surf movies and magazines–but without having to hire a pro photographer, or spend a fortune on camera bodies, lenses, and water housings. He simply wanted the average surfer to be able to enjoy the same type of photo treatment the pros did, hence the name of his company, GoPro, and its camera, The Hero.

On Wednesday, GoPro announced the release of their new smallest, lightest, most powerful camera yet, The HERO3 Black Edition. The proliferation of GoPro’s POV cams has injected new levels of respect for adventure sports and their athletes.

Thanks to its digestible price, easy to use fittings, and remarkable image results, the cameras became an instant hit, so much so, that today Woodman’s little company based in Half Moon Bay, California, does Super Bowl commercials. That’s what selling three million cameras (just since 2009) will do for your business. Oh, and in the process, GoPro has transformed the adventure sports landscape by harnessing the power of adventurers as his leading brand ambassadors. You needn’t look further than the video above for proof.

Today, in an age where we all live with cameras at the ready, there’s not an adventure-sports athlete who doesn’t want to share what he or she is doing, be it surfing hollow tubes in Indonesia, snowboarding hallowed peaks in Innsbruck, or soaring off a fjord in Norway. And Woodman and his crew just made that job easier with the release of the HERO3, a smaller, lighter and much more powerful camera that comes with 1080P capability.

Of course, there should be no higher form of flattery for GoPro than all the competitors now eyeballing the market segment they’ve created. And while there’s little doubt some of them will make inroads, they may want to use caution, because in this space, the edge goes to the active participants, the ones becoming masters of their new video craft.