Surf Her Way Photographer – Zoe Strapp

Published on 01/04/2024

Welcome to our Surf Her Way Photographer for April – Zoe Strapp. Now based on the Surf Coast of Victoria, she is has fuelled her passion for the ocean and surf photography by transversing across our beautiful country’s coastlines. Her diverse experience diving, surfing and photographing the water is brought to light through all her work. Dive into our chat with Zoe below!

Q: Hey Zoe can you give us a little description of yourself and how surfing is a part of your life?

Hey Guys. Firstly I want to express my gratitude for choosing me to feature as your photographer of the month. It’s truly an honour!

My name is Zoe Strapp, I am a full-time photographer and migrated to the Surf Coast around 8 years ago. My connection to the ocean and love for surfing started well before my passion for photography and was really a catalyst for me getting into photography. In 2019 my husband and I set off around Australia, surfing and diving our way around the 40,000km venture and I couldn’t think of anything better then to capture it. From surfing the rugged coasts of South Australia to diving the clear blue seas of Ningaloo Reef, my passion for photography, and more specially ocean photography, quickly grew.

Upon returning, I threw myself headfirst into both ocean / surf photography, as well as commercial and portrait photography. 5 years on, and I am thrilled to say this is my full-time gig and I love every minute of it.

This has made surfing both a part of my personal and professional life. Finding time in the day for a surf myself, while always being torn between grabbing the board or camera, sometimes I manage to fit both in. As well as capturing incredible brands, organisations, and events both here in Australia and Internationally.

Q: Where do you surf/photograph the most?
Majority of my surfing is done between Anglesea and Spout Creek. This also applies to my photography, though when I feel inspired, nothing beats both a surf and photography session at one our iconic reefs like Winki Pop or Bells Beach. I am also thrilled to say I will be heading to Indonesia with my camera and board in hand next month, which I am beyond pumped for!!

Q: What does surfing mean to you?
Surfing means clarify and adventure. I will always pick a worse quality wave with less people over a high-quality wave with crowds. That’s because surfing has always been a sanctuary for me, and being surrounded by competition and pressure has never sat well for me.

Surfing has provided me with an immense amount of joy and purpose. It has brought cherished friendships into my life and taken me to places I could never have dreamt off. It puts you among nature in its most beautiful states and allows you to stay connected to what’s most important.

Q: Can you tell us about one of your favourite surfs?
Ohhhh that’s a hard one. I feel like there a few stand out surfs, all for different reasons. Though the ones that do stand out all have a common thread, and that’s the people. When I am lucky enough to share a fun, uncrowded wave with either my husband or maybe one or two of my closest friends, no one else. When the yewwwww’s are flying around, smiles from ear to ear, and everyone is getting waves. They don’t always have to be the best waves, but you are loving every minute of it.

Q: What was the best surf photography session you had?
Best surf photography session, again that’s a tricky one. I have a feel this might change after my upcoming trip to Indonesia haha. Though for now it would have to be between two.

Firstly, a very memorable session at Guvos Beach a few years ago with Belinda Baggs, Jarrah Lynch and Alex English. We had a beautiful left hand log wave all to ourselves, and I captured a mic of beautiful moments, though in particular. A party wave where Belinda was side stepping with her usual elegance and Jarrah bringing the acrobatics with a headstand. It was iconic!

Secondly would have to be at Urqhurts Bluff. I was capturing my beautiful friend Sam during her last few weeks of pregnancy, and I was honestly blown away. Sam was not only ripping on her log, but was moving with such grace and beauty, all while growing her soon to be little boy. The water and beach was filled with fellow friends and it was just a beautiful session.

Oh and lastly, bonus session! A frosty winters morning at Winki Pop. A small group of us paddled out at first light, hopping my way across the low tide reef and slipping my flippers on, I was expecting a clean 4ft day as per the forecast, though we were greeted with slightly shifty, 6ft sets (the biggest I had swam out in to date). It was such a fun and memorable session, as I pushed myself to learn how to navigate larger waves and here to position myself to capture the surfers absolutely killing it. After about an hour in the water though I lost one of my flippers while duck diving a set wave, and after accepting the loss and making back to shore, a kind surfer later found it and return it to me in the car park. Nothing beats an amazing community!

Q: What makes you feel most confident/comfortable when out surfing?
That’s a great question. I’m not really sure to be honest. Surfing is definitely a bit of a mind game for me. When I haven’t been able to get in the water much or haven’t had a bigger surf in a while, I often get in my head. Pulling back when I know I am more than capable.
For me I think it’s just consistent time in the water and trying not to think too much when I’m out there, as if I can overcome this doubt I know I am capable of just about anything.

Q: What inspires you to surf/photograph? What is something that you are striving for in your surf journey?
My inspiration to surf and photograph surfing, comes from my love of being in the ocean. Surfing has brought me to much joy since I first began at 18, I couldn’t imagine my life without it. It’s a part of who I am now.

For photography, my inspiration certainly ebbs and flows, but every time I swim out with my camera in hand, it’s always a memorable day. The moments you can capture by being fully immersed in the waves and right there with the surfer, light and water beaming in from all directions, really does rival any moment you could capture on land.

Currently I am striving to improve my ability to tell a story. Its one thing to take a great technical photo, though its another to tell a story through your photography. To take the viewers on a journey and immerse them in the moments. That’s my goal at the moment.

Q: What excites you most about elevating the representation of women and girls in and out of the water?
I am constantly inspired and in awe by all the amazing women and girls who are pushing the limits in the ocean. From surfing, to diving, marine biology and photography, it is just such an incredible community, and I am honoured to be a part of it.

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