Billy Ackerman was originally born in Durban in 1957 and started to surf there at a very young age, till they transferred to Cape Town in 1985. Presently, he is working at the biggest Valve Supplying Company in RSA, as one of the Tech Sales Team members. He loves to travel and search for new surfing spots.
It was at the age of 13 when Billy first took up photography. He started taking black and white pictures, considering that color was very costly to develop at that time. “I turned all my late Mom’s spare rooms/bathrooms into dark rooms, hahaha!” he laughed.
He began his passion in surfing photography after he got the first Gunston 500 right on his doorstep and seeing all those photographers with their long lenses. Of course as a beginner, he had a lot of questions and his idols in surfing photography were and will always be Patrick Flanagan and Chris Van Leppan, who were actually the frontrunners when it comes to surfing photography.
When he went to Durban to celebrate their 35th Wedge Reunion, a good friend named Dawn Rouse, who happens to be a surfing photographer in Durban, came up with the name PB (Photo Buddies) and that started his PB surfing page on Facebook. He started the page to feed this surfing and boadyboarding family with pictures, as not everyone can afford to get a photo of themselves in a magazine.
During his days, he surfed with the likes of Paul, Mike and Shaun Tomson, as well as Mike Esposito. “ They are trying to get me to start long boarding again but I can’t stand surfing in a wetsuit and the water here is too cold, ahahaha!”, he exclaimed with laugh.
Billy also plays golf every now and then, when he is not hiding behind his camera. “It is a great way to relax when there’s no surf around, and I also cycle to keep me fit, and will be doing my 7th Argus next year”, he explained. He also is a fan of the Sharks Rugby team.
Other than surfing, he also enjoys shooting any type of sports. In fact, Pierre Marqua has recently introduced him to downhill mountain bike racing and he did his first shoot and is looking forward to shoot in Tokai forest.
This year, he spent some time in Jbay taking on the Billabong Pro event. “It was a very well-run event, best in years!”, he says. For him, Brazillians stood out from the rest as they stick together and root for one another. Us Saffa’s take defeat lying down too easily, that’s just my personal opinion”, he added.
When it comes to surfing shots, he mainly uses the Canon 7D with 70-200 mm f/2.8 as well as his baby 400 mm f/2.8 lens. With regards to the photo editing software, he uses Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS5.
His favorite location to shoot is Llandudno. “I lived there for 12 years, so yes it’s still my favorite spot as it just has something about it that’s hard to describe”, he explained. He offers his photos for sale as prints, but he also makes up a DVD for anyone who wants more than one photo.
If you were to ask him something about himself that we don’t know, his answers would be, “I am just a down to earth guy who loves life and enjoys spending time with family and friends. If he could spend a day taking photos of one surfer at a certain spot, it would be Shaun Tomson at his favorite spot “The Bay of Plenty”.
Find Billy’s Surf Photography Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/InTheFiringLineBillyAckermanPhotography
The Gunston 500 was a long time ago. Check this out from 1984: