Megan Barrett, Ocean Photographer

Megan Barrett [@meganshootsfilm] is a marine biology student and photographer. Born on a cold rainy island in the eastern Atlantic, Megan quickly adapted to life on California's sunny coastline. She currently lives in a small beach town in North San Diego county and spends an exorbitant amount of time submerged in the big blue Pacific. When she is not swimming around with a camera or locked in a darkroom,  Megan leads kayak tours on a local marine reserve and continues a constant search for the best Phở Tái in Southern California. Megan's latest photographic work can be found at

For me, the ocean is a simple thing. It’s as uncomplicated as action and reaction. It breaks down my decision making to its most basic. I put on a wetsuit, I take the last few steps into the waves, and as the water washes over me, so does relief. I am no longer in control. I am surrounded by something greater, and it is my job only to exist in it, roll with it, and make a few simple decisions as the ocean moves in whatever way it pleases.

For anyone who spends any amount of time in the ocean, you’ll know that it demands a healthy dose of respect. There’s a rhythm to it, in the tides, the swells, the currents, but just as soon as you are lulled into a sense of calm security, it can change, it’s completely unpredictable, and it can take any sense of power you thought you had and toss it out the window. This loss of power is what I love the most. I cannot pre-plan, I cannot over think, I can only react. My time on solid ground is full of over analysis, of stressing over what’s coming next, what I haven’t done, what my actions will cause. When I am in the ocean, it is the most present I can be. Out of necessity my mind is focused and calm.  My mum always used to talk about how I should try to learn to meditate, but for me this wasn’t as easy as sitting down on a mat and calming my thoughts. I think my time spent in the ocean is as close I’ll ever get to the ease and calm she finds in lotus every morning.


When I swim out to sea with a camera my goal is usually to capture the moments that exhibit the feeling I have out there. I end up shooting a lot of surfing, but my favorite moments are usually the ones that most action photographers would look over; the face of someone paddling back in after an epic wave, the elation of making a drop, the calm between sets, or the last few minutes of light before the sun sinks below the horizon line. I try to capture the interplay of water and light, of water and air, and water and the humans whose ultimate stoke is to be immersed in it. These water-loving humans are my people, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

- Megan Barrett

Image of Megan by Matt Mangham; all other images by Megan Barrett

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