Shannon Glasson - Ocean Photographer

It is incredibly hard to look past Shannon’s age when you consider everything she has achieved, endured and conquered in her life so far. With her 20th birthday fast approaching, the math just doesn’t seem to add up. She is a celebrated surf and ocean photographer with a penchant for the big stuff, negotiated with experience way beyond her years. Known for shooting ocean slabs from the water, at uncomfortably close proximity, most of which the average person wouldn’t want to be within a square mile of when their warped mountainous walls come crashing down on to uniquely shaped reefs.

These achievements alone are something to be marveled at. On top of this, Shannon is thriving despite living with two very rare conditions, Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia and Congenital Talipes Equinovarus, the former affecting her ability to produce cortisol, and therefore experience fear as we know it, and the latter affecting her ability to walk, due to her feet facing backwards at birth. 

Shannon could swim before she could walk and underwent numerous surgeries and copies amounts of rehab to make walking possible, but still feels most at home in the water. The ocean was an inevitable environment for water baby Shannon, and the salty depths became her sanctuary, a place of freedom and creative expression. She negotiates her conditions with an admirable philosophy, that “someone is always worse off” and in many ways they have helped her become the inspiring woman she is today.

As kind and generous as she is strong and fiercely independent, it is no surprise that she was picked up by the Vagabond Photographic crew to hold workshops and share her photography knowledge and ocean experience alongside legends and her hero’s Russell Ord and Warren Keelan.

So for a few words and incredible images from this inspiring, straight-talking teenager, dive in …


Where are you from and where do you call home now?

I have been lucky enough to grow up in Cronulla. I still call Cronulla home.

Tell us about your incredibly inspiring journey to finding your feet in the water.

I found my feet in the water at a very young age, around 3 months old. I was born with a condition called Talipes, which means both my feet were facing backwards. I started swimming at 3 months as a form of physio and rehab. I underwent multiple surgeries until I was around 4, and the swimming was a way of letting go of the pain.

What inspired you to take up photography, particularly surf photography?

With the time I spent in the water when I was young, the natural progression was to start surfing, though this was tough due to having very little balance. So instead of missing out I picked up a camera. Being in the water experiencing the raw ocean is a feeling like no other.

Who inspires you in the surf and ocean photography world?

Russell Ord, Warren Keelan, Phil Thurston, Kieron Douglass.

You have photographed some pretty intense waves. Tell us about a few of your favourites?

Shark island would have to be one of my favorite waves to shoot. It’s where I started shooting when I was younger. It’s always amazing to come home to pumping waves.

In the same way we all remember a magic wave or photography session, is there an image that you’ve captured that sticks out in your memory?

It would have to be Polar Express. I rocked up to this spot having never been there before to see such incredibly clear water breaking over dry reef.

What’s the best thing about what you do, and what is the most challenging?

The best thing about being an ocean photographer is being in the ocean all the time. What’s not to love about the ocean. The most challenging is the admin side. I don’t like sitting in one spot for to long and I’m easily distracted

Tell us about your photography set up for water?

I’m currently using an Aquatech housing Canon 5dmk iv, Canon 50mm 1.4, which is my go to setup. I also have a fisheye.


Get to know you:

What are you known for?

Shooting big waves on the east coast of Australia.

Who or what is your greatest inspiration?

My greatest inspiration would have to be young kids in hospital.

What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?

Respect mother nature.

Of all the places you have travelled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?

Would 100% be the South Australian coast line. It’s so RAW and unpredictable, and to be able see some of the most incredible waves in the world without seeing other people for days is amazing.


Where can we find you online?

Instagram: @shannonglasson




Posted by: Emma Gibbons, on May 1, 2019
Categories: Interviews