The Dream w/ Rodrigo Donoso

Rodrigo Donoso isn’t just one of the best photographers in wakeboarding, he’s also one of the best guys you could ever hang out with. No matter what is going on, if you’re with ­Rodrigo, you’re going to enjoy yourself (and probably have a killer photo to share too). His stories are legendary, and he’s been gathering them for the last 15 years while documenting wakeboarding from a front-row seat.

wakeboarding photographer
Known simply as “Rod” to most everybody in wakeboarding, Rodrigo is a favorite wherever he goes.Rodrigo Donoso

When was your first published photo and whom/what was it of?
My first photo was actually a photo of Joey Meddock back in 2002 when he was on the Delta with some guys doing a trip and story for Wakeboarding.

What does it mean to you to be the three-time reigning Photographer of the Year from the Wake Awards?
Man, it feels weird to even say that. (laughs) Somebody told me that the only person who's done that is Josh Letchworth, which is totally unreal to me. I'm pretty blown away by the recognition from my peers and everybody in the sport.

How have you managed to stay local to the Delta but still be in the mix with so much of the wake industry?
Being on the West Coast is difficult because of the seasons. But one thing that's helped me a lot is contest photography. It isn't glamorous, but it's kept me plugged into the industry and relevant. Doing that for so long, I was able to interact with riders and people in the sport and develop relationships and friendships. Those are really important and have done a lot for me. I've also been shooting for Hyperlite for 10 years, and that has been a massive help with my career.

What is the key to a successful wake shoot?
A good attitude is the most important. A little preplanning helps a lot too. It's good to be on the same page. Then you have to have a willingness to keep trying. Don't let a failure prevent you from trying again. There are lots of photos that took multiple tries and days or even weeks to get. It doesn't always happen on the first try.

What's one of your favorite photo-shoot-related stories?
That's hard because I almost always have a really good time wherever I go. Every next trip is the best trip for me, which is awesome. I think when that stops happening is probably when it's time to hang it up.

Describe being Rodrigo Donoso the photographer for the past 15 years in a few words.
Travel bags, living check to check (laughs), and seeing the light. That would be it.