Carmel Valley senior making waves in world of surf photography

By Rob LeDonne

As Hurricane-turned-Tropical Storm Marie churned off the coast of Baja California, the resulting waves broke records thanks to their immense size and scale. As onlookers gathered at the shores and only the most expert surfers dared to hit the water, in the midst of the action was Austin Schmid, a senior at Canyon Crest Academy who has discovered a passion for photographing the surf and is a local photographer for world-renown website Surfline.com.

“In Newport Beach, the waves were the biggest they’ve been in 10 years,” Schmid said from his home in Carmel Valley. “There’s a place called the Wedge in Newport, and I went body surfing with my camera. The waves coming in were at least 20 feet tall; it was definitely the most scared I’ve ever been in the water.”

It’s Schmid’s passion and talent for surf photography that lured him north to Newport Beach to chronicle the furious effects of Hurricane Marie, marking the latest highlight in a burgeoning career in photography. “I got the first GoPro when they came out a few years ago. I love both the ocean and photography, and (this hobby) joined the two of them.”

One of the factors that sets Schid’s photographs a part from the pack is that he uses a waterproof homemade camera casing, essentially enabling Schmid to wade into the surf with it. An actual camera casing was cost prohibitive.

“A lot of surf photographers will purchase professional camera housing, so I proposed the idea to my dad to make one,”said Schmid, who’s father, Mark, is an engineer. “That’s been a big part of my photography. I’m known as the kid with homemade housing. It’s so cool; I can take pictures just like any professional.”

It’s Schmid’s technical prowess and talent behind the lens that caught the eyes of Surfline, the Huntington Beach-based website that launched in 1985 and specializes in surf reports, webcams, as well as exclusive photos and video. A go-to website for anyone interested in the sport, its familiar moto is, “Know before you go.”

“There’s a ton of amazing photographers on there,” said Schmid. “I saw they were considering new photographers and had an application on their website, so I applied. They wound up bringing me aboard and it’s been awesome. I get to post my photos and even more people get to see them. It’s also great being a part of a community, and being able to meet other photographers. There’s a ton of talented people on there with inspiring work.”

When it comes to snapping pictures, Schmid says one of his favorite places in the area to capture is in La Jolla. When he usually gallavants, it’s with a friend or his 17-year-old twin brother, Garrett. And when he’s not holding a camera, Schmid is also an avid surfer, body boarder, and body surfer. As of recently, however, his passion for photos is starting to take precedent over everything else. “I’m not sure where I’m going to college yet,” he says of his future.

“I’m taking more photography classes at Canyon Crest, so it’s something I’d at least want to minor in after high school. This is something I’m going to want to continue doing.”

For more on Schmid and his photos, check out www.schmidyphotography.com.

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