Surely that's just clickbait right?

Well yes it is, but not really! Bear with me and I'll try explain.

I think some context is needed here  but before I go further  full disclosure dictates that I should tell you I own a number of Action cameras including ones from GoPro and the Chinese take on GoPro . I still use the the first GoPro I got as a gift a few years ago and I love it. 

The boom of cheaper and better action camera's means  in recent years means that  I know more paddlers  who own  GoPros than a set of usable split paddles, I say that jokingly but I think it probably true. 

The thing is who doesn't love having a savage day on the water with your mates and then being able to review the footage when you get home and know that there is some Facebook gold waiting for you. Be it having captured your mate swimming earlier on of even better after you nailed that sweet boof of your local drop. Over the years I've bough my GoPro loads of places and I'm always glad I've had it with me.

Those tiny, near indestructible cameras that you can bring almost anywhere are just savage.

..... then why the hate?

I promise I'm getting to the part where I come close to making a point, well almost. I have more than a decade of kayaking and other adventures where I have only one or two photos to help me remember, so now that I've a HD video camera with me when ever I'm doing something of interest or excitement I am always keen to take a snap or two. From what Facebook tells me I'm not the only one who likes to do the same, and sure there is no harm to it.

GoPro have brought awesome quality to the masses, the Pros and Plebs alike now have access to video quality that surpasses what we used to think unimaginable in cinema a few years ago. I never though to would be possible to take some of the shots we now take for granted yet alone the kit required to do so being so affordable.

However this is where my love affair with GoPro ends, Facebook and online media is saturated with so much 'Stuff' I really couldn't give a shite about most of it. I don't just mean the sub par mediocre video's I've posted over the years but include the big names who have access to serious funds. It's not just a case of production value either, I think lots of us have forgotten why movies (short or otherwise) work.

Last month something popped up that reminded me of a different time in kayaking movies.

I'm really cautious of descending into old man 'back in my day' narrative here, but I do think before we became obsessed about the latest in camera tech, to what software you used to cut your 'Edit' on or copyright music restrictions on Youtube we were less inclined to forget one of the greatest fundamentals of film making.

It's all about the story

It is as simple as that! Even if you are on the greatest whitewater in the world, with a all of the latest and greatest offering from GoPro and a top end MacBook Pro to edit on if you can't tell a story / set a narrative, you're fighting a losing battle. Without that 'story' all you have is a video where people fast forward to the interesting bits and then discard it for something else, a striking similarity to low budget porn and ain't nobody want to watch that. 

I'm a bit of a fan boy but check out Casey's 'Guide to Filmmaking video here, he highlights that the gear just doesn't matter! Anyway back to Bren and Adrian's movie above and why I liked it so much. There is a real story about it, those from a certain era will remember such classics as .

Time hasn't been kind to some of them but they are still watchable as they are well put together films. 

Will any of this stop me posting poorly composed, badly light shots from my GoPro, hell no! Though I really must limit the use of my super ghetto DIY elevated camera mount.

I'll also most likely continue with sticking a few self indulgent but purely shot and edited videos to youtube, but I am going to try harder to be better.

There is a HUGE caveat to everything I have just said, life is for living! Kayaking, Mountain Biking or what ever way you spend your free time is meant to be fun and enjoyable. Don't feel bound by any 'rules' of the way you take or share memories.

I just think if we all tried to think why have some classic movies stood the test of time while other multi-million blockbusters have been forgotten about the following years. It's the story that brings people back again and again


So even if its running the Upper Bandon for the 105th time, knock yourself out and enjoy.




Bonus content

I came across this and a host of other late 90, early 00s while stuck in a Youtube hole.



Posted in Gear Review, Lifestyle, Video, White Water.


  1. Yep, I’ve written about similar things myself. I almost never use my GoPro simply because I can’t do anything useful with it when it comes to kayaking footage. One year the SCA paid me to do a talk at their annual canoe show about how to make better videos, since that is what I do for a living. I gave some tips on getting better shots and some of the settings on the camera, but I focussed on actually having an end idea to begin with, and to actually try and tell a story. I told them that getting better video is about having interesting content, as well as how it is edited.

    Was my advice appreciated? Ummm, no! Some of them actively didn’t like being told this. All they wanted to know was what gear to buy and what to edit on.

    Kayaking is problematic when it comes to filming though. Unlike surfers and skiers we can’t do sweeping shots while holding the GoPro out on a pole unless we stop paddling and have the camera mounted on a paddle. Helmet mounted pole mounts are dangerous on a river, and rear boat mounted pole mounts can get just as samey as helmet cam. It is also difficult for us, unlike skiers, snow boarders etc to do a fast smooth tracking shot of our mates using a pole or whatever. We can’t even use a motorised gimbal because they aren’t waterproof. Kayaking has to be one of the most restricted sports in the world when it comes to getting footage.

  2. Hi Simon, thanks for the comment. Having checked out your work content you really know what you are talking about. This blog post received a similar response as your talk as the SCA event. Not because of the clickbait title but more ‘ Who are you to tell me what I should film’ kinda response.

    Just like you said kayaking is really restricted in out options for cinematic style shots and variety of angles, because of this I think paddlers need to try even harder on the ‘story’ to make up such shortcomings.

    I see you’re into UAVs also, As the likes of the Mavic come to the market offering a compact user friendly solution I expect to see more ‘drone shots’ in recreational paddler generated content. But the novelty will wear off and we will be back to the status quo of all the kit and very little idea.


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