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Meet Diane Edmonds of in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Diane Edmonds.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
The beach has been a big part of my life since I was born, with my mom teaching me to body surf at a very young age. Growing up in downtown Huntington Beach during the 60’s and 70’s, I spent most days at the beach watching my boyfriends surf or body surfing myself. My interest in photography began in college and grew as my world travels began. Fast forward a few decades and I became the mom with the camera, hauling carloads of kids to the beach and taking photos of them learning to surf. At about the same time my oldest daughter started surfing in competitions, digital cameras were evolving at warp speed. I started buying faster cameras with higher resolution and longer lenses. I quickly realized I needed to catch up with the new post-processing techniques so I started taking Photoshop classes and have never stopped learning new editing skills.

In 2007, a well-known LA-based photographer named Branimir Kvartuc created (originally El Porto Pics), a ground-breaking website that provided a store-front for surf photographers to display and sell their photos. It was exciting to discover a way to turn my passion for surf photography into an actual business. By shooting regularly at the same surf breaks, local surfers got to know me and they quickly learned how to find photos of their sessions on My niche is shooting ‘everyday surfers at their everyday breaks’, although I also shoot the top pro surfers at some of the WSL events. I have a loyal following at some of the lesser-known surf spots which made me one of the top ranked photographers on the site.

After the collapse of in 2010, I created my own website, where surfers can easily buy downloads and prints of their favorite photos. In 2012, Surfline created their own photo-selling platform called “Local Pros” and I was one of the first surf photographers invited to launch the new program. Being part of Surfline has given my photos incredible exposure around the world and helps drive a lot of visits to my website. With so many surf photographers out shooting regularly these days, most surfers know to check Surfline’s pages to see if anyone got a shot of them at their spot.

Being at the beach and photographing surfers, waves, and sunsets are what I love to do, so I figured out a way to turn the beach into my ‘office’. I also shoot many parties, weddings and events for non-profits and corporate accounts, particularly when they are at the beach.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The biggest hurdle to increasing sales is that most of my photos have only one ‘likely’ buyer – the surfer in the photo. Add to that the tendency of some surfers to spend more time surfing than working, and you can see where that can make it tough to turn them into paying customers.

Another challenge with surf photography is that waves are in short supply here in Southern California, resulting in many surfers being very protective of ‘their’ surf spots. This breeds contempt amongst some surfers for anyone who might contribute to bringing even more people to their spot (Surfline’s cameras, photographers posting photos of the most recent swell, magazines that name spots, etc.) So, on any given day, I might have a dozen surf buddies texting me to tell me to come to their spot while it is firing, but I might also get a ‘hate email’ from someone chastising me for posting photos of what they consider to be ‘their secret spot’.

I really do try to strike a balance between selling photos and keeping surfers happy, so I will usually err on the side of secrecy when it comes to naming a spot that is considered sensitive. The problem is that many surfers in SoCal seem to think their spot is ‘secret’, even when it is visible from Pacific Coast Highway. When I’ve been trekking off-road through the bush for 30 minutes to get to a perfect surf spot somewhere like New Zealand, THAT is a secret spot and no way will I name it! And, I’ve found that when I don’t name the exact spot when posting a gallery, it makes it harder for surfers to find their shots, and this usually results in no sales.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
One of my favorite things to hear from a client is, “I’ve been surfing for 20 (or more) years and this is the first time I’ve gotten a really good photo of myself!” That makes my day and keeps me going back to the less-popular spots to shoot my favorite clients – older surfers who still rip.

I also do private surf shoots, which can be a lot of fun. Many times, wives or girlfriends will buy gift certificates for private surf shoots for special occasions such as Father’s Day, birthdays, graduations, etc. I also set up shoots for out-of-town surfers who want me to take them around to some of our best local spots, so I guess I could call myself a ‘surf guide’ at times.

My husband is retired so we are able to travel a lot – luckily, he lets me pick out the itineraries, which always follow the surf. I have built up quite a loyal list of clients in all of the areas we visit – Australia, Mexico, Hawaii, Indonesia, etc. Recently, I have branched out into shooting smaller hotels and condos where we like to stay, so we trade photos for free accommodation.

Something I have worked hard at is learning how to interpret surf forecasts. If we have a good swell running, I want to shoot wherever it is likely to be the best, but that means doing research. I also have a good network of buddies who give me live surf reports, so that saves me from driving from spot-to-spot doing surf checks. There can often be a very short window of optimal lighting, favorable winds, etc. so nobody wants to waste valuable time driving around.

I’m in a good place in my life so I am able to give a lot of my time shooting non-profit events for groups that provide surf/beach days for kids and adults with special needs, including Autism, Down Syndrome, spinal cord injuries, Blindness, Amputees, etc. Imagine being the parent of a child born with Spina Bifida who cannot walk, but suddenly that child has the opportunity to SURF. I feel very privileged to be able to capture these special moments, and knowing how much my photos mean to these families is the greatest ‘paycheck’ ever. When I am sitting at my computer, editing photos from these events at 2am, you can bet that I have tears running down my cheeks as I see the huge smiles on the faces of these adaptive surfers!

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I am trying to make some of my favorite photos work for me, rather than always racing out to shoot yet more photos. I now sell ‘Fine Art Images’ which have a much broader appeal – sunsets, landscapes, empty waves, wildlife, etc. I would like to break into the world of providing photos to hotels, restaurants, collectors, and office buildings.

I am sometimes my own worst enemy when it comes to time management. Venturing into new markets takes a lot of focus and time but when the surf is firing somewhere, I get distracted and am drawn to the beach. Yes, I am as bad as my surf clients when I drop everything and chase surf!

I’ve been taking classes in Graphic Design and look forward to setting aside more time to be creative with some of my favorite photos. When my photos have been used in ads, I often think I could have come up with a more creative layout, so I’m working on improving those skills.

What I really dream of doing is being a travel photojournalist. At 61, I have done some incredible travels in my life and I have many, many stories to tell. Perhaps my niche will be writing about travels for ‘Active Seniors’, who still enjoy discovering beautiful beaches, gentle bike trails and hikes, and short getaways.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Diane Edmonds,

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Mary Davis-Landau

    August 2, 2017 at 10:44

    I love this article about DIANE EDMONDS and her dedication to using her amazing photography talents to help others! Thank you… I am so inspired by her!

    Mary Davis Landau

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