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Interview with Mike Harris
Assistant Pastor,
Surfer & Photographer



@mikeharrisvisuals © Mike Harris | Mike Harris holding a Gopro at Wedge, Cylinders left. 

1. Harris, what brought you to surfing? How did you learn to surf?

I started surfing when I was about nine years old (around 1976) the same year Peter Townend (PT) won the First World Title. It was a great time to start surfing because there was a whole new short board area starting and there was so much Stoke in the surf community.


I remember going to the Huntington Beach Surf theater as a grom in 1977 watching the new movie “Free Ride” with Shawn Thompson, Mark Richards, Wayne “rabbit” Bartholomew, PT, etc. and I was hooked.


I was already a beach rat bodyboarding wedge, in Laguna, skateboarding any empty pools we could find and being involved in the HB junior lifeguard program, but when surfing grabbed a hold, that was it.


I still remember my first wave on my light blue Bruce Jones surfboard, I’ll never forget the feeling. It’s so true, only a surfer knows the feeling. 

2. As an amateur, you have been doing surf photography. When and why did you start?

​Actually, I really only started doing surf photography last summer in 2017. I had shot surfing here and there but I could never seem to get the board out of my hand long enough to pick up a camera.


It wasn’t until last summer that I sustained a foot injury which enabled me to surf for about a month, so I went down and bought a GoPro.

The Wedge, California @mikeharrisvisuals © Mike Harris | Surfer @tommy_cantrell



















Big Wedge @mikeharrisvisuals © Mike Harris | Surfer Parker Cohn @parkernicholas_  

That same week the biggest south swell of the summer hit Orange County, so I went straight to the wedge and got a couple good shots.


I got so much pleasure and stroke from it I found myself (for the first time) putting down my surfboard and picking up my camera.


Since then I’ve invested in a Canon 1DX  and an aquatech imaging-solutions water housing and I’m loving it.

3. Why surfing is photogenic to you?

Everything is photogenic to me. Photography is an art of observation. When you look through the lens, even the ordinary can become extraordinary, It’s all a matter of perspective.


Light is always the key ingredient to any image, whether sunny or gloomy there’s always amazing opportunities.


It also helps to know your subject, whether that’s an empty wave or a surfer on the wave. Surfing my whole life enabled me to have a natural Instinct to be in the right place at the right time for the shot.


Ultimately, surfing is photogenic because I love it, and when you love something  you can always get a great images.






The Wedge @mikeharrisvisuals ©Mike Harris | Surfer Daniel Shea @dsheabutter












The Wedge, Cylinders @mikeharrisvisuals ©Mike Harris | Surfer @chrismansor

4. People seemed to enjoy your work. Your shots have been used by the World Surf League and you have been interviewed by Bliss Magazine already. Did you expect such exposure? 

I’m just really grateful that I can get to spend time in the ocean, having fun, being creative with a camera, and meeting some really cool people.


It’s been great to get to know and spend time with a lot of surfers that I only knew from a distance and meet other  photographers that I’m so inspired by.


It’s a good feeling to realize there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them, so I’m stoked people enjoy the images I produce.


I believe it’s important not to believe your own press clippings, but to stay humble, and be thankful and to remember that in the big scheme of things, fame and popularity are as fleeting as an Instagram “like”. It’s quick and people move on.

5. Have you got any benefit from your impressive skills as a photographer?

Well, if that means financially, not really.


The real money for me in photography is shooting weddings, portrait /corporate  shoots (which I do from time to time) but i’m hoping that changes with water photography.


I recently heard somebody say, “follow your passion, even though there’s not a paycheck at the end of it”.


But there are many other benefits in photography that you can’t put a price tag on. Bottom line, I do it because I love it.




Huntington Beach, South Pier @mikeharrisvisuals ©Mike Harris 















Huntington Beach, South Pier @mikeharrisvisuals ©Mike Harris 

6. Would you eventually consider a career as a surf photographer? Why?

Well, that sounds really great and exciting, and don’t think that I haven’t thought about it, but I have three kids, (one in college) a wife, a mortgage, cars, responsibilities, and a dog, and I don’t think it would pay the bills.


Nevertheless, maybe in another life.

7. I understand you are an Assistant Pastor at the Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa. Is there any relationship between your faith and your love for surfing?

The relationship between my faith and surfing is simply the fact that I believe God created this Amazing Play ground we call the ocean. I’m in awe of the diversity, uniqueness, and beauty of it every time I’m in the water.


Amazing to think that approximately 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water and, we have only explored less than five percent of the Earth’s oceans?


The animal and plant life we see at the beach is only a glimpse of all that, I think, God created.















The Wedge, @mikeharrisvisuals ©Mike Harris | Surfer Teddy Navarro @shreddyhb  























While in the water, there are times when I’m reminded of His great power when it’s calm and glassy:

Psalm 107:29 “He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.”


...and I'm also reminded of His great power when the waves are pumping:


Psalm 93:4 Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty!

Most of all I hope that my “faith“ is live out with the guys that I see out in the water.


To show love, respect, seek to put other people first.


It’s been said that, “a sermon seen is far better than a sermon heard, and the eye is a much readier pupil then the ear ever was.” 




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