Wave Photography with Justin Hoeppner

Wave Photography with Justin Hoeppner

Justin Hoeppner, a Southern California local and talented photographer, dives into his creative process and what inspires him to keep shooting ocean photography. Be sure to give him a follow on Instagram while you're at it @JustHoep.

“One of the biggest reasons that I do shoot is because it is that space to get what's inside of you out and to have a sense of completion. I don't know that many things in life that are like that. Photography kind of gives you a little bit of a taste of what it's like to finish something, and the process of getting in the water is just beautiful.”

My name is Justin Hoeppner, I'm from Dana Point, California and I currently live in Oceanside, California. I grew up around the ocean, it was always a part of my life when I was a kid, and when I discovered photography I knew those two things needed to come together. I started shooting on the shore, early in the morning before anyone would get there, and you would see these perfect little barrels coming down. I wondered what it would be like to shoot those, so I kept getting closer and making even more foolish decisions, getting as deep as I could. Then I realized that it was probably a good idea to invest in something that I can put my camera inside of to get it out into the water. From there, it was just a story that kind of told itself.

One thing I know for sure is that when I'm in the ocean, it's kind of like a living and breathing journal for my thoughts. I sit out there and I'm processing my whole life. I'm making images that I'm deeply connected to, while I'm accepting the imperfection of these moments and capturing them with my camera. I'm also probably doing the same with myself, as deep as that may sound, it's really ordinary for me. I'm looking for something that generates that expectation, that gives me a little bit of hope that something might show up. Then I wait for that moment and I hunt for it. As the tide changes, that moment shifts down the beach.

One of the coolest moments that happened for me was using the Lume Cube 2.0s, actually. Once everyone was getting in their cars and going home, I could start to slow down my shutter and capture moments after the human eye couldn't see anything anymore. I was starting to capture things that were truly unique. So I constructed 3/4 of a ring flash with a handle and put six cubes on that. I put it across the port and then I hold both, so I'm shooting holding the ring flash above my housing, trying not to damage all my gear at once. But I love the lights, they do everything I need them to do and the size, actually, is one of the most incredible pieces about it.

So if I’m shooting with an old GoPro or if I take my phone out, I literally throw one Lume Cube in my pocket. I'll be shooting little waves with my phone, I haven’t actually got one yet but I figure at about 3 years in, I’m due man. But these lights are perfect for what I do. One of the biggest reasons that I do shoot is because it provides that space to get what is inside of you, out. It also gives you that sense of completion, and I don't know that many things in life are like that. Photography kind of gives you a little bit of a taste of what it's like to finish something, but it doesn't put an end to my pursuit. It puts one little destination on that journey of constantly trying to create, it keeps me on my toes. The process of getting in the water is beautiful, getting it all on, taking it all off, cleaning it all up, packing it all backup, and then doing it again. It's just healthy, healthy for the soul. Work is good, you know.

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