As the founder and sole proprietor of Firedrill Productions in Aliso Viejo, Calif., 45-year-old Erick Bryner has his hands full. Bryner started his freelance graphic design and commercial photography business in 2007, and it’s been his a more-than-full-time job ever since. His diverse client list includes well-known, heavy-hitting Southern California companies from Abbott Medical Optics to The Irvine Company, and he has worked for notable advertising/marketing agencies such as Bozel Worldwide, Wasserman Media Group and Lawrence and Ponder.
That kind of work, rather than shooting high-performance powerboats, keeps the lights on for Bryner. But that doesn’t stop him from spending what little time he has photographing go-fast boats. Most recently, he found himself at the Super Boat International Offshore World Championships (check out his recent “Sequence of the Week”) in Key West, Fla. In April, he shot the Desert Storm Poker Run on Lake Havasu in Arizona, just as he has for the past several years.
A motocross racer in high school, Bryner dreamed of photographing action sports for a living and began shoot races when he wasn’t riding in them. Images of go-fast boats in flight reached him through the pages of Hot Boat and Powerboat magazines. Although he planned to study photography at the University of California at Santa Barbara after transferring from a local community college, “life took over” and he never quite got there.
“I remember the ’70s and ’80s, flipping through those magazines and being awestruck by the shots of the old Cigarettes and Scarabs flying out of the water in the open ocean,” Bryner said. “I was used to my dad’s little 19-foot flat-bottom, so I couldn’t believe boats that big could go that fast and reach such heights without breaking apart. And while I used to think the drivers of those offshore boats were superhuman, I also remember thinking, ‘Damn, how do you get that photographer’s job?’ ”
Commercial photographer/graphic artist Erick Bryner has a passion for go-fast boat photography. Just check out the slideshow above.
The answer—as he eventually found out—is that almost no one ever does. Still, Bryner learned his craft well enough to make a living at it, which is no small feat in the ultra-competitive world of professional photography, and in what little spare time he’s had since founding Firedrill he’s continued to shoot powerboats. Along the way, he has captured everything fast on the water from Top Fuel drag boats to Unlimited hydroplanes.
“Being a horsepower and motorsports junky, there’s a certain high you get when you’ve grabbed that one epic shot that captures the absolute peak of action and it reminds you why you love it so much,” he said. “But that ‘dream photography job’ I had as a kid has remained just that—a dream. The digital age and social media has had a pretty negative impact on the ‘profession’ of powerboat photographer. Then again, it has never been about the money for me. And, hey, at least I’m no longer spending a fortune on film.”