The Dark Side of the Lens

POSTED IN : Branding & Marketing, Photographers

I found this video a while ago, and if I’m being honest, I go back and watch it all the time.

But only if I’m being honest…

It’s a promo video of sorts for the acclaimed surf photographer Mickey Smith, but honestly it’s more of an art piece than an actual promo video.

If it WERE a straight photographer promo, though, this would be the best one I’ve ever seen.


Big respect to Allan Wilson, the DP.

When I watch this, I can’t help but feel empowered, encouraged, and excited to pick up my camera and create something that is going to be meaningful and remarkable.

I can completely identify with the part where he talks about how cameras help him interpret and understand the things he sees.

I get that.

What about you? How does this video make you feel? What thoughts do you find going through your head as you watch this and listen to the words? 

(Mickey has a sweet Irish accent that is sometimes hard to understand, so I’ve included the full transcript below the video for you.)

“If I only scrape a living, at least it’s a living worth scraping. If there’s no future in it, at least it’s a present worth remembering. For fires of happiness and waves of gratitude, for everything that brought us to that point on earth, at that moment in time, to do something worth remembering with a photograph or a scar. I feel genuinely lucky, hand on heart, to say I love doing what I do. And though I may never be a rich man, if I live long enough I’ll certainly have a tale or two for the nephews, and I dig the thought of that.”


Enjoy and share!



Full Transcript

Life on the road is something I was raised to embrace. Me Ma always encouraged us to open our eyes and our hearts to the world, make up our own minds for experience of being inspired. I see life in angles, in lines of perspective, a slight turn of the head, the blink of an eye, subtle glimpses of magic other folk might pass by.

Cameras help me translate, interpret and understand what I see. It’s a simple act that keeps me grin’n. I never set out to become anything in particular, only to live creatively and push the scope of my experience for adventure, through passion. Still all of it means something to me, same as most anyone with dreams. My heart bleeds Celtic blood and I am magnetized to familiar frontiers: broad, brutal, cold coastlines for the right waveriders to challenge. This is where my heart beats hardest.

I try to pay tribute to that magic through photographs, weathering the endless storms for rare glimpses of magic each winter is both a bless’n and a curse I relish. I want to see wave ride’n documented the way I see it in my head and the way I feel it in the sea. It’s a strange set of skills to begin to acquire. It’s only achievable through time spent riding waves, all sorts of waves on all sorts of crafts, means more time learning out in the water.

Floating in the sea amongst an ocean swell, you’ll always learn something its been a life long wise ol’ classroom teacher of sorts, and hopefully, always will be. Buried beneath headlands, shaping the coast, mind blowing images of empty waves burn away at me. Solid ocean swells powering through deep cold water. Heavy waves – waves with weight. They coax from comfortable routine, ignite the imagination, convey some divine spark, and whisper the possibilities, conjure the situations I thrive amongst enough to document.

We all take knocks in the process: broken backs, drownings, near drownings, hypothermia, dislocations, fractures, frost bite, head wounds, stitches, concussions, broke my arm and that was just the last couple of years. Still look forward to getting amongst it each Winter though, cold creeping into your core, driving you mad, day after day, mumbling to yourself as you hold position and wait for the next set to come. The Dark Side of the Lens – an art form unto yourself not us: silent workhorses of the surfing world. There’s no sugary cliche. Most folk don’t know who we are, what we do or how we do it… let alone want to pay us for it.

I never want to take this for granted, so I try to keep motivations simple, real, positive. If I only scrape out a living, at least it’s a living worth scraping. If there’s no future in it, at least is a present worth remembering.

For fires of happiness or waves of gratitude… for everything that brought us to that point on earth, at that moment in time to do something worth remembering for a photograph or a scar. I feel genuinely lucky to hand on heart to say I love what I do. And I may never be a rich man but if I live long enough, I’ll certainly have a tale or two for the nephews. And I dig the thought of that. 


Hi there! We’re Jeff and Erin Youngren, a hubby and wifey wedding photography team in San Diego. We shoot together. We travel together. We dream together. And we believe the best thing to hold onto in life is each other (+ a great glass of wine…)

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