How 14 Year-Old Lance Wilson Created This Spectacular Photograph

“The best photos are the ones that don’t need to be heavily altered, in my book!” Those are the wise words of the photographer Lance Wilson. Such wisdom is often delivered by those later down the road in life. But Wilson is 14 years old, already displaying a mature mind. He picked up a camera when he was 13, and already he’s producing work seasoned folks should envy. He’s also the creator of an incredible wave shot that went viral on Reddit. Exactly who is this boy wonder? Let’s find out.

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Gear Used by Lance Wilson

“On that day, I brought my dad’s Canon EOS 7D Mark II, with a Canon 100-400 mm lens. I shot handheld. I really wish I could do that day over with my newer lens, but I still managed to get some pretty fun ones!”

Lance Wilson

Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you first got into photography.

Lance Wilson: I first started to get into photography during COVID, when I was 13. I was extremely bored and looking for something creative to do with my time, which was when I had the idea. My dad has been into photography his whole life, and he taught me everything I know. I slowly started to develop my style and skill, and now I am addicted to taking photos!

Phoblographer: How long did it take you to get “the shot.” Were you experimenting with different settings? What worked and what didn’t?

Lance Wilson: To get that wave photo, it really took me a couple of days. We had some huge swells coming in, and my dad and I went out every day for about a week. There were some awesome waves, but I didn’t have the light I wanted. Then this day came along. It was clear, unlike the other days which had been almost completely cloudy. The sunlight really added to the atmosphere, but it was pretty challenging at the same time. It was really bright, and I had to mess around with my shutter speed quite a bit. I ended up missing quite a few good waves because of this. I believe my settings for this shot were 1/1600 sec, f.5.6, and Auto ISO with -2/3 exposure compensation.

Phoblographer: You describe yourself as “lucky” to get the shot. Why do you feel you were lucky?

Lance Wilson: I feel like I was lucky to get this shot because so much had to align for it to happen. The wind had to be from the right direction and strong, it had to be clear, the tide had to be perfect, and the waves had to be big. Not only that, but I almost left shortly before taking the photo. I figured the best had passed but decided to stay a little longer. Boy oh boy, am I glad I did!

Phoblographer: At what moment did you realize you had made such an awesome photograph?

Lance Wilson: To be honest, I didn’t really know what I’d captured until later. Because of how I was firing down on the shutter, I didn’t get to really see it for myself, and I didn’t realize how cool it really looked until I loaded the photos later. I didn’t have time to look at it on the camera because I was shooting wave after wave after wave, and they all blurred together. As soon as I saw it on the computer, I knew it was “the shot.”

Phoblographer: Did you spend much time in post, editing the image? What was the process like?

Lance Wilson: This photo didn’t require too much editing, contrary to popular belief. Many people who saw it were accusing me of seriously changing the photo in post because of how unreal the shape was. I really just applied some contrast, did a little bit of dodging and burning, and sharpened it using Topaz Denoise AI.

Phoblographer: I see you sell prints. As a young photographer, have you thought about entering the NFT market?

Lance Wilson: Absolutely! In fact, I am currently planning my first collection on OpenSea that is centered around my connection with the ocean and how it has helped me grow as a person. Prints are super fun to do, but the truth is that it is very hard to make much money selling them. NFT’s are just crazy, and I’m really excited to see where they take this art form in the future.

Phoblographer: You’re still very young; what do you hope to achieve with photography in the next 10 years?

Lance Wilson: Gosh, that’s difficult. Firstly, I would love to delve even further into Crypto as it relates to photography, if it is still relevant that far out. I would love to photograph a few different places: Iceland, the Southwest, Death Valley, and many, many more places. Despite how cliche this may sound, I really would love to travel the US or the world and get to know some places. I would also love to start taking my photography to the next level, as well as interning with some photographers. And probably my most ambitious goal would be to somehow get a photo featured through National Geographic. Not necessarily in the magazine, but on their social media. I have so many different things that I would love to do, but I’m mostly just really excited to see what photos I can create in 10 years time. Thanks so much for reaching out to me, I am incredibly honored!

You can enjoy more of Lance’s work by visiting his website and Instagram.

All images by Lance Wilson. Used with permission.

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Dan Ginn

Dan Ginn is a content writer and journalist. He brings with him five years' experience writing in the photographic niche. During that time he has worked with a range of leading brands, as well as a host of professional photographers within the industry.