Margaret River man's search for one great shot
The search for one great shot has seen Russell Ord travel the world which in turn has led to chance meetings, unexpected opportunities and the rescue and resuscitation of a surfer who drowned at big wave destination in America.
For those past three years, cinematographer Darren McCagh has trained his lens on Ord as he inches toward his goal and will this year release a documentary of the journey.
The centrepiece is Ord's photography at West Australian big wave, The Right. The documentary also tracks his journey from fireman to family man and the friendships he's forged along the way.
After a couple hiccups, the two are set to deliver a final product this year and have released a trailer, which gives a surprising insight to Ord's commitment to his craft.
"I'd known Russ for a year or two and we were sitting around one day at his house just listening to his usual rant about the state of the surf industry and the difficulties he was having as a photographer," recalls McCagh of the projects' genesis.
"He was looking back on some of his shots and he mentioned he hadn't been getting any satisfaction with what he had captured. It was all, "Shit, crap, too bloody easy, my 10-year-old could take that shot".
Stuff like that; he's got a funny way with words! So, I think he'd just gotten to a point of frustration and boredom with the same stuff. He wanted to capture a shot that he could look back on and say 'Oh my god. What I had to do to get that shot.'"
You can't do it alone
McCagh came to realize it's the circle of family and friends surrounding the former fireman that was perhaps even more important to Ord achieving that goal than conditions out on the ocean.
Central to that circle is Ord's wife Catherine who McCagh captures beautifully talking candidly about the thought process she goes through whenever her husband heads off to chase massive waves.
"There's no way I would have captured a scene like that which such openness and honesty when I got started on this project and didn't really know Russ and Catherine that well," says McCagh.
"But the scene itself happened very naturally in the end though. She was prepared to share her side of the story that was very emotional for her to share and for me to listen to."
The scene also caught Ord, who's forged a steely reputation by swimming amongst moving mountains at The Right, off guard.
"It was pretty emotional to be honest," he says.
"The approach Daz took was certainly unexpected, however from the outset of this project, we've always wanted a honest, direct and no bullshit dialogue, but for sure, seeing Catherine in that scene brought a tear to my eye."
The two crowd sourced funds to be used in post-production but have continued to work to finance all other expenses, including travel, accommodation and equipment.
They've released a few snippets as the documentary progresses, including an interview with Jacob Trette who Ord rescued and revived after a near drowning at Mavericks in 2011.
But this latest teaser is the first time a firm deadline has been not only set, but announced, which McCagh says is a welcome pressure after a period of conflicting work schedules, mismatched availability and family commitments.
"I feel really good about it actually," says McCagh of the announcement.
"We've continuously had to put other work in front of the filming of this project, which has led to it becoming drawn out. Realistically, we need to make money to buy us time to do the trips to get footage and record interviews. But there's no excuses now. If it sends me broke in the process there's a soup kitchen in town and myself, girlfriend and future children are on the waiting list if need be."
But the process got an unexpected kick along when Ord announced he was setting off with his family later this year to sail the Pacific.
"I still feel I have better images to capture in that type of environment and I don't doubt there'll be an image or two that I'll think, 'That's it, I've finally taken a decent photo,'" says Ord.
"But I also know a few days will go by and I'll start thinking I can do better but I'm off to travel the Pacific with my family for a few years from November, so this is the year to do it. It's now or never."