We sat down for a quick chat with Ashleigh Yob - photographer, surfer and badass businesswoman behind San Diego Surf Photos, to find out about her surfing, photos and more…..
So, tell us a little about yourself:
I grew up in Cornwall, England. It’s the hub for surfing in the U.K. and living just yards from the beach, surfing and spending my life In the ocean was always meant to be. I spent my childhood at the beach salty haired and covered in sand and daily life has always revolved around the tide. When I was 19 I followed my dream and purchased a small surf school business, which I grew into one of Europe’s largest surfing academies. I’ve been teaching surfing for 17 years and it really is one of my biggest passions.
I would spend my summers in the UK working at my surf school, and the winters escaping the bitter cold and traveling to more tropical destinations. I spent several years competing on the women’s longboard competition circuit. Surfing had always been a huge part of my life and it’s opened so many doors for me.
What brought you to California and how did you become a surf photographer?
I met my husband here in Encinitas whilst I was on vacation. I had to buy wax from his surf shop and we got talking surf. We hit it off right away, and he kept turning up at the beach to surf with me. A week later I went back to England......It must have been love as I purchased a return ticket back to Cali before I left. As he’s pretty used to the idyllic California conditions I thought it a bit mean to make him move to the UK, so I packed up my life and moved to sunny San Diego!
Photography has always been a hobby of mine since my granddad gave me an old film camera when I was a kid. Traveling around the world I’ve always loved documenting my journey and having an outlet for my artistic flair. When I moved to California with a new life ahead of me and a totally blank canvas I really wanted to do some work that I could enjoy, learn something new and give back to the surfing community. It all kind of happened by accident when taking photos of my friends at the beach. People would always ask me if I had any shots of them surfing. I had one of those ‘lightbulb moments’ and intrepidly started San Diego Surf Photos - the first day I went to the beach to take photos of everyday surfers I sold some pictures, people were so stoked - it just grew pretty organically from there.
What challenges have you faced as a female surf photographer and starting a new business?
Coming from a pretty successful business to starting a new one in a new place was actually pretty daunting for me. I had the confidence and business skills to give it a go and was willing to take a little risk. Luckily I have also met some amazing and supportive new friends who’ve given me the encouragement I’ve needed when it’s been tough.
It’s not all roses - the surf is wildly unpredictable and sometimes the conditions just don’t work out. However, it’s given me opportunities to branch out with my work and through some of the amazing people I’ve met in the surf and at the beach, I’ve been doing lots of types of other awesome photography-based projects. I’ve also been able to use my skills to help and support small businesses and startups and work with some really awesome people to help them grow their ideas.
It’s also pretty funny - so many people think I’m a guy. There aren’t many female surf photographers here so often people assume I’m going to be a middle-aged man turning up to shoot photos. I like that I can remove some of the stigmas attached to where women stand in the surfing industry and prove that we can do just as good of a job, if not better! There’s such an awesome group of women who surf here who are contagiously enthusiastic and who have really helped me along my journey.
So, let’s talk about surfing. What’s your favorite surf spot here in San Diego?
I live in Oceanside and the waves are super fun there in the summer. I spend a lot of time at the pier and harbor. My work often takes me to Encinitas so I frequent many of the breaks there too. San Elijo state beach has some of my favorite waves on the coast, and I’m always up for a weekend trip to San O.
My photography takes me all over San Diego County and I always have my wetsuit and board with me. I usually get to my shoots super early to squeeze a surf. There’s still so many spots I’ve not surfed though and id really like to take a trip down to Mexico soon!
Any exciting plans for the year ahead?
I’m looking forward to working on some new projects and learning new skills to help improve my photography. I’m saving up for some water housing so I can explore a new angle. I’m super excited to be working with HER WAVES and helping Jennipher with her photo shoots for her new products. So many amazing doors keep opening for me - I love to just go with the flow! Maybe some surf trips are on the cards…...who knows!
If you’d like some photos of your next surf, Ashleigh offers both private photography sessions where she’ll come along and shoot your entire session. She also offers a number of beach meet-up shoots where she takes pictures of the entire lineup and you can purchase your pics individually from that session.
For details of shoots, special deals and more follow her @sandiegosurfphotos
Cruise over and check out her portfolio of work, you never know there may be some shots of you on the site already: www.sandiegosurfphotos.com