Tony Harrington Interview iON The Barrel

Tony Harrington Interview iON The Barrel

Photo of tony harrington in the mountains

Please could explain who you are and what you do?

I grew up on the beach in Australia at a spot called Wamberal, a gorgeous bit of coastline just north of Sydney.  Surfing was a natural part of my life and it was in these waves I honed the craft of photographer, shooting from the water in particular.  I was a sponsored surfer in my teens and it was the owner of the surfboard company that dragged me down to the snow fields where I fell in love with the mountains too.  For the past 25 years I’ve been on a constant global journey documenting surfing and skiing.

What is iON The Barrel about and what have you achieved so far?

iON the Barrel focuses on the holy grail of surfing – the barrel! We’ve just completed our first film in a three-year series and I’m super proud of it. In the past year we travelled to Pipeline in Hawaii, Puerto Escondido in Mexico, Teahupo’o in Tahiti, the Mentawai Islands of Indonesia and the legendary point breaks of Kirra and Burleigh Heads in Australia to film some of the most iconic barrelling surf breaks in the world. We worked with a number of legendary surfers including Gary “Kong” Elkerton, Rusty Long, Ken “Skindog” Collins and Mick Fanning to name just a few.

Using iON cameras allowed the surfers to share their point of view and exactly what they see from within the barrel. The fact that they don’t fog, the batteries last such a long time and the amazing quality of the optics allowed us to focus our attention to surfing great waves with the reassurance the cameras were up to the job.

Peter Hayes surfs a barreling wave

iON Air Pro 3 attached with the iON FCS Mount. Click on the image to find out more.

Where do you plan to hunt for barrels next?

We are in Hawaii again for the winter season and of course will be filming iconic spots such as Pipeline in all its glory, but there are so many other barrels here too.  We are going to explore many of these lesser known spots in the second film.  This 7-mile stretch of coastline on the North Shore of Oahu is chock-full of barrels, some close to shore and only needing 2-3 foot of swell to turn on.  There are also some giant gaping barrels lurking a little further from the shore that we’ll be hunting out by jet ski.

We’ll be heading back to Tahiti to unearth more hidden treasure that we stumbled on last year in that incredible clear water there.  The plan is also drive from one side of Australia to the other via the rugged southern coastline. There are literally hundreds of waves that barrel on our hit list. We just need to be patient and wait for the storms to show on the weather charts and move swiftly when they do. Sometimes we will drive for 48 hours straight just to reach a location to film our barrels; when it’s on, it’s definitely on.

What are your favourite spots to film?

It’s just too hard to list all of my favourite waves for filming. At the end of the day every single place I’ve ever been to has its own story and reasons why I enjoy that spot. Sometimes it’s the wave itself, sometimes it’s the weather, both warm and extremely cold – like Alaska –  and sometimes it’s the company of the crew I’m travelling with that will carve a place into my memory. Every hollow wave has its own unique appeal, shape and form but they share one thing in common – that place inside a wave is like a hallowed place for surfers that I can only describe as the “Holy Grail”.

clear sea water as wave breaks


Is there one spot that you feel is always a safe bet for a filming trip where you know the waves will be just right?

There’s rarely a completely safe bet when you are working with weather and swell but Teahupo’o in Tahiti in as safe a bet as you’ll find barrels to film when the deep low pressure systems make their easterly migration under New Zealand towards South America. The wave is consistent, extremely entertaining and deadly dangerous.   Pretty much the only way to make a wave here is to travel inside of it. It helps of course that Tahiti is just so idyllic with warm weather, warm crystal clear water, beautiful people and a beautiful culture.


In your eyes, what is the ultimate shot that you hope to achieve in a film shoot?

I don’t believe you can ever really envisage what an “ultimate shot” will look like, when it happens it just does. It is going to be something unexpected, it could be because of the action, the waves, an emotion, the light, the composition of the frame – just a magic moment when things come together. This shot will usually break every rule that people try and teach you in the classroom. Believe me, I don’t believe in rules; they put boundaries on creative processes. You just have to let yourself go, throw caution to the wind and somewhere along the line you are going to come out with some real “banger” shots.

waves in hawaii


How do you use iON Cameras to your benefit?

I’ve been intrigued by the iON Air Pro cameras from the very start. The new AP3’s are incredible tools and there is really no limit to how you can use them. We used to use POV cameras in places where our bigger DSLR and RED Epic cameras couldn’t get to because their size, and more and more I’m using the iON’s not just mounted to surfboards, cars and bikes but in general use documenting the lifestyle, culture and environment as a whole. The image quality is outstanding and to be able to quickly whip a camera out of my pocket and slide the switch forward means I’m capturing special moments that I’d simply miss in the time it would take to get a bigger piece of equipment out. The iONs certainly free us to create more personal content that is key to story telling in the movie.


Do you get creative in developing custom camera mounts?

The iONs come with a great mix of mounts already but there have been a few instances where we have tinkered and adapted the existing fittings when we needed something unique for a situation. Most of the time we were out in the middle of nowhere and it’s amazing what you can do with a few nuts and bolts, a cordless drill and some duct tape! We have been working with some very accomplished surfers, skiers and snowboarders and iON has embraced the feedback we’ve shared. We are excited to see this commitment from iON to the continual development to the camera and the accessories to keep making it better.


We’ve also designed some special tail mounts that put the Air Pro 3 out behind the surfer and allows us to shift to the field of view to left and the right of surfer, the inside of the wave itself or the lip as it flies overhead.  It’s all about getting creative and trying to find new angles!

duck dive surfer


Like most things in life, it’s never really about the destination; it’s about the journey. To be able to shoot and share what we see and how we live is something special.  We’re stoked to work with so many amazing surfers!


The Trailer

Since the first wave was ridden surfers have shared stories and experiences to try and explain the magic inside the waves they ride… The Barrel is a film tribute to these moments inside hollow waves.

Check out the trailer for a taste of what’s coming up in The Barrel Movie…

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