N&M Dro-tography's Mark and Natalie Thomas hard at work on the North Devon coast - Credit: N&M Dro-tography

COLUMN: Meet the duo behind N&M Dro-tography - Stephanie Conway

Stephanie Conway

As North Devon has recently been announced as the UK’s first-ever world surfing reserve, I’ll be using my weekly column to highlight the stories of local people within the North Devon surf community.

This week is all about Mark and Natalie Thomas, the duo behind N&M Dro-tography.

The pair are known for taking incredible surfing shots around North Devon. Mark, a soldier in the British Army, and Natalie, who currently works in the dangerous goods industry, met in 2016 and moved to North Devon in 2017.

“We first purchased and picked up a camera in 2018 to take pictures of our travels,” says Mark. “We would take it with us on our trips along the North Devon coastline and loved taking pictures of the beaches and scenery.

“Wanting to develop and learn more about a camera's different modes, we thought surfers would be great subjects to capture, as they combine speed, quick turns and aerial manoeuvres. At the start we were terrible, we didn't have the right lens, pictures were out of focus, and full of noise and we were taking thousands of photos with only a few decent outcomes.

“To teach ourselves and become better we watched countless hours of YouTube videos learning settings and techniques and over time have developed our ability and skills.”

N&M Dro-tography's Mark and Natalie Thomas hard at work on the North Devon coast - Credit: N&M Dro-tography
N&M Dro-tography's Mark and Natalie Thomas hard at work on the North Devon coast - Credit: N&M Dro-tography

Over time, the pair have strengthened their photography skillset, investing in the right equipment to frame some of the most iconic photos of surfers at their local breaks.

One of the biggest challenges of ensuring they capture the perfect shot is navigating the British weather, especially in the winter months with limited daylight, and having to brace the elements.

But their commitment to their craft has paid off, and their curated Instagram feed displays crisp shots of surfers performing high-level moves like airs and down carves, which has been well-received by fans of their work.

“Surfing is a personal expression and every surfer has their own unique style,” says Natalie. “Taking photos of people enjoying themselves, whether that be nose riding on a longboard or completing an air 360 on their short board, the stoke, adrenaline rush, or the feeling of complete relaxation gliding along with the wave that they feel, we feel that through the lens by capturing that moment.”

Through their passion for surf photography, Mark and Natalie have been welcomed into the North Devon surf community, and have received recognition and praise for their work.

With the recent announcement of North Devon’s status as a World Surfing Reserve, N&M Dro-tography’s images were used in the national press as well as surfing publications, which helped to share their work with a wider audience.

The pair hope to continue to build their photography and videography business to become their full-time business.

“We’re just amazed and thankful for the support,” adds Natalie. “We’re extremely passionate about photography and can’t believe how far we’ve developed as photographers.”

If you’d like to learn more about N&M Dro-tography and the work that they do, you can contact them via email at nandmdrotography@gmail.com or visit their instagram account at www.instagram.com/nandmdrotography