PHOTOGRAPHER INSIGHT: Maggie Higgins Likes To Wear Rubber Head To Toe In The Snow
New Jersey (NJ) isn’t the first place you think of when you hear of surfing in The States. Although, in the past few years photos of heavy cold barrels have put it on the map in the surfing world. Maggie Higgins is right in the midst of the best surfing on the east coast.
Maggie, 20, has taken part in photographing some of the most dedicated year-round surfers from land and water. She’s been playing around with cameras since the age of 10, and it wasn’t until she picked up surfing a few years ago that she began photographing the surf. Five-millimetre wetsuit, hood, gloves, and booties are all apart of everyday life in Jersey Winter. Mix that with a heavy camera housing, and being submerged in water for hours at a time, this is what Maggie does for fun.
The crisp cold air can be felt in all her photos, from moody black and whites to the backlit chocolate barrels that NJ has come to be known for. She wants her photography to live on, just how print does, and be more than just the photographer you see on Instagram.
ICE CREAM HEADACHES
I find the surf culture in NJ to be unique. When I think of mainstream surf culture I think of warm weather, clear water and bikinis but in NJ the waves are muddy and usually best when it’s freezing. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
To be completely honest, it can get brutal in the winter. Dedicated is an understatement. It takes a lot of commitment to wake up at sunrise, put on a 5 mil and enter the frigid water temperatures. Swimming in the water, diving under waves, and getting hit in the face by the spray from the waves over and over again takes a lot of commitment bringing the worst ice cream headaches.
One good thing about winter, there are very few people in the water, so usually you’re out in the lineup by yourself and can get pretty unique shots. It’s all worth it.
WOMEN IN THE WATER
I’m not really sure why there aren’t many women in the water in NJ, but I’d love to see more. I’m extremely grateful and proud to be a women surf photographer. I really don’t see that many women surfers, and it’s definitely rare to see women surf photographers. One thing that has been popping up more lately are girl surf camps which I think is a great idea. I hope that inspires more girls to get out in the lineup around here.
I’ve always been inspired by Leroy Grannis. His work is simple and timeless and captures the classic ’60s & ’70s surf culture that I have always admired. I seem to find myself flipping through his books to find inspiration often.
I would describe my style as a mixture of moody and classic. I really like to focus on the simple, in between moments. We see the barrel and air shots all the time in the magazines and on social media, it is refreshing to show people another aspect of surfing.
I also love portrait work, it’s always been something I liked to shoot. I love connecting with different surfers and showing their lives on land. I’ve also been learning a lot about shooting with Super 8 film so I’m excited to start that.
FATE OF SURF PHOTOGRAPHY
I’ve always taken photos for the love of surfing and not for recognition, but for professional reasons, the death of some prints magazines is something that actually disappoints me. It gave professional photographers a job and a chance to show the true talent of some of these surfers and how good the waves get here in NJ.
I hope in the future magazines make a comeback because it doesn’t look promising at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, social media is a great way to interact with other people. I’m not a huge fan of it because photos on the internet come and go, while print is forever. With the increase of surf photographers, I hope they actually learn how a camera works and respect the people who came before them. Don’t just do it for Instagram.
Maggie was a runner-up in the 2018 Mermaid Society Surf Photographer Search presented by Braven. Her three images were selected as highly recommended by the seven judges including; Fran Miller, Brooke Farris, Leah Dawson, Cait Mears, Kirstin Scholtz, Amber Mozo and Fiona Mullen. View the 20 finalists HERE.
Check out more of Maggie’s work on her Instagram.