Shooting more than the curl

May 13, 2014

Before the first rays of sunshine creep over the horizon at dawn, Ryan Boyles, 26, economics major, is on his way to the beach with his camera and equipment ready to shoot the early morning surf session at El Porto nearby in Manhattan Beach.

He is taking an unconventional path in his own life, while paving a new road that will connect the lives of ordinary surfers with the services of professional photographers.

“IFILMUSURF is a middle-man between surfers who want footage of themselves surfing, and photographers who have the appropriate equipment and skill set to shoot them,” Boyles said, founder of IFILMUSURF. “Turns out there is always professional photographers who have thousands of dollars in equipment, but just don’t know where to go or who to shoot to make it worth their while.”

Raised by a single father for the majority of his adolescent years, Boyles had a unique childhood. He grew up in El Segundo and graduated from El Segundo High School in 2006.

At a young age, Boyles discovered he was not set out for the nine-to-five grind, and dedicated his time to being a self-proclaimed problem solving hustler. As a freshman at El Segundo High, he started a clothing company called ARORA Appeals. Although the company only lasted a couple of years, many T-shirts still live on in closets of local surfer kids.

Boyles’ father, Drew, is a successful entrepreneur who owns several businesses in multiple states. Drew Boyles is an alumni of USC Business School where he received his MBA. He has invested in start-up companies that have turned into multi-million dollar operations and has also done freelance consulting for other businesses such as Starbucks and Panda Express.

Drew Boyles taught his boys not only how to surf, but how also to be successful businessmen.

“Growing up, my younger brother’s and my relationship with him (my father) became what he was doing at work. I remember being 8 years old, going over a very complicated Excel document with him; it was a break-even analysis,” Ryan Boyles said. “And as kids, my brother and I were enjoying it. But at the same time I was learning how businesses work and how businesses failed.”

Ryan Boyles seems to be stepping into a booming business, because by the year 2017, the surfing industry as a whole will have an estimated worth of $13.2 billion, according to a 2011 report from Global Industry Analysts, Inc.

In the vast world of surfing, expert photographers dedicate their time primarily to shooting professional surfers for magazines and documentaries. This leaves the average surfer lacking the connections or means to have such photographers shoot them at their local breaks, a virtually untapped market of millions of surfers in the U.S. alone.

IFILMUSURF plans to change this by bridging the gap between average joes and photo pros. Any surfer regardless of skill level can go to IFILMUSURF and make a free account which grants access to a wide array of well-qualified cameramen, Ryan Boyles said.

This free account allows the surfer to then book an appointment with an IFILMUSURF approved photographer. All of whom are experienced in the art of surf cinematography; equipped not only with cameras, but with years of filming experience, Ryan Boyles said.

The photographer will then meet the surfer at his or her desired location to begin the session. Sessions usually last around one to two hours, but depending on the condition of the wind and waves, can go as long as three to four hours. Once the session is complete, all of the day’s footage will be uploaded to the surfer’s account to be viewed personally or shared with friends, Ryan Boyles said.

With the extreme success of companies such as GoPro and YouTube, a new market has been created consisting of extreme sports enthusiasts who crave footage of themselves doing what they love, Ryan Boyles said.

As little as a decade ago, it was virtually unheard of to have a camera attached to a surfboard or even have footage of one’s self surfing. Now, cameras seem to be as common as the surfboards themselves but the lack of good quality personal footage is still quite evident throughout the surfing community.

“With surfing, it’s not about what you’re doing but how you’re doing it. Anything that has style needs to be seen to be appreciated,” Ryan Boyles said. “But, unfortunately, as awesome as a fixed mount camera is, it is limited in the sense that it only provides one close up camera angle and does not come close to telling the whole story of any given wave. That’s where we come in.”

IFILMUSURF can provide several different camera angles, including shots taken from photographers in the water and on the beach. Operating as a middle man allows IFILMUSURF to offer a wide variety of options to meet any surfer’s needs, Ryan Boyles said.

Personal footage can also be used for studying one’s surfing similar to the way football players watch tapes of their games. If a given surfer wishes to critique his or her surfing for an upcoming contest, it is much more likely he or she would use footage taken from a beach angle. In a surf contest, the judges sit on the beach to get the best perspective possible for fair judging of all competitors.

Competitive surfers need to see what the judges see if he or she wishes to critique and improve their surfing in the eyes of competition, Ryan Boyles said. The spotlight is now on any surfer who chooses it, regardless of experience or skill level.

“Most of our marketing is done at local surf contests and other events,” Cameron Brown, director of marketing for IFILMUSURF, said.

Brown is responsible for growing their social media pages on Instagram and Facebook along with creating brand recognition throughout the local surfing community.

IFILMUSURF recently organized and sponsored a beach cleanup that drew more than 40 participants to El Segundo Beach to pick up trash for a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon in an effort to give back to their community.

Many successful entrepreneurs have had failing business ventures in their early years; neither Ryan Boyles nor his father Drew Boyles are exempt from that list. IFILMUSURF is not Ryan Boyles’ first business venture and will not be his last.

“An entrepreneur says to himself, ‘OK, here is a problem. There is a demand for this and people want it,’” Ryan Boyles said. “I am going to create a solution and I am going to capitalize on it.”