Over the past decade, GoPro has grown leaps and bounds in bringing the novelty camera closer to home with exciting features and possibilities. It has since become the universal action and adventure photography companion, which is why we wanted to know why Dane Jackson, a GoPro-sponsored freestyle kayaker, loves his GoPro gear so much.

Although Dane is a well-known pro kayaker, I wondered how familiar he was with photography. He describes his photography as being “far from professional”, but has a good enough idea of how to shoot and edit his own footage. Dane grew up taking photos and shooting videos with his brother-in-law and other kayakers. Since not many photographers and videographers tend to travel with kayakers, Dane and his fellow athletes have to work really hard media-wise to get their stuff out there and to keep the sponsors happy. So, Dane actively shares photos of his trips online, or sells them to magazines. He also uploads edited videos online.

Dane Jackson surfing whitewater while taking a selfie using his GoPro

Dane is glad that he picked up photography as it makes river trips more exciting. Learning new “stuff” while shooting his own stories is, as he describes it, a “great way to be productive for myself and sponsors”.

Dane Jackson photographing himself going down a waterfall using his GoPro

Why should anyone want to buy a GoPro?

With so much power packed into such a small camera, why not? No matter what you are doing, whether you’re a sportsperson, adventurer of simply filming your family at the beach, it’ll work for you.

Dane’s favourite GoPro feature

“I think my favourite feature these days is the GoPro Quick Capture App setting that used to be only available on the session.” With this feature, the camera stays off until you click record, and only then does the camera turn on and start recording. When you click to stop recording, the camera turns off. This is a great way to conserve battery power on a long day of kayaking and filming.

GoPro Session or HERO5 Black?

I asked Dane which he prefers and he said that since they’re both advantageous, it all depends on your personal preference. If you’re someone who just wants a GoPro to capture whatever it is that you’re doing, the GoPro HERO5 Session rules! The battery lasts really long and the camera is so small that you will hardly feel it – “it’s just a great camera to have with you”.

On the other hand, if you are looking to “mess around” with features, see what you are shooting on-screen, and try new things then the HERO5 Black is sick! So, if Dane had to pick one, it’d have to be the HERO5 Black. Besides being waterproof and having an awesome LCD screen, “there are just so many cool features packed into a little camera”.

GoPro beautifully captures Dane Jackson getting some air in his play-boat

Must-have GoPro accessories

Kayaking is still a developing sport and is therefore quite limited when it comes to GoPro mounts. Dane suggests that a head mount is always good to give people those point-of-view (POV) shots, allowing your viewers to experience the journey with you.

For kayaking specifically, attaching a paddle cam on the end of your paddle (facing you) gives the best angle. This angle is not very good for action videos, but great for photos, so be prepared to take many photos and get one or two amazing shots! Just like any form of photography, a little practice goes a long way.

GoPro captures Dane Jackson and Rafa Ortiz going down a waterfall in a tandem kayak

Editing your GoPro footage

When it comes to postproduction, Dane is a big fan of Premiere Pro and recommends to anyone who edits often. You can also use the GoPro Quick App, which offers templates with music that enables you to bust out an edit really fast without any previous editing experience. For beginners, he recommends iMovie, but adds that “no matter what app you go for, you are going to have to be patient and learn how to use it”.

GoPro captures Dane Jackson side-surfing some waves with the sun setting down in the background

4 Steps to create a killer GoPro video:

  1. Ensure that before you start viewers have a good idea of what they will be looking at: You don’t want people to get confused, so be sure to include a descriptive title and intro in the video.
  2. Shoot as many different angles as you possibly can.
  3. Get a few “normal” camera shots, but make sure that you make the most of the fact that the camera can be mounted to almost anywhere, take an impact and be submerged underwater. The perspectives are endless!
  4. Show that you are not afraid of pushing the boundaries to get those shots, even if it means risking the camera.

With GoPro, you don’t need any qualification or formal photographic skills/training. GoPro allows you to simply get on with living life, while it captures the moments.

Dane Jackson photographed with a GoPro while sleeping in an airport
Kayaker Dane Jackson taking an awesome selfie using his GoPro HERO5 Black mounted on his paddle