Getting back to your creative path, was there anyone who influenced you?
I had a great mentor in Phil Gallagher, a brilliant surf photographer who probably isn’t as well-known as he should be. He pioneered many surf spots around remote areas of Australia. He was actually the editor at the surf magazine I was art director for, I learned a lot from him. This is the sort of relationship that I recommend in any industry. Find someone you respect and learn as much as you can from them. We still sometimes work on some projects together, but we’re also good friends still.
As far as surf photography, I also was really influenced by Dustin Humphrey. He doesn’t shoot that much these days, but he was amazing in early 2000s. He’s a great example of the idea being at the strength of the image, always trying something different.
Have you ever taken risks to shoot something extraordinary?
Well, my initial idea for Maelstrom was that I wanted to shoot from the water in these sorts of conditions, and I nearly drowned myself a few times. That was only on the smaller days. I luckily had a friend who I talked into coming along with me, who acted as my spotter, which definitely helped alleviate any concerns my fiance had with me heading off to shoot these waves. Taking risks is essential. Calculated risks though, preparation is essential.
How do you usually choose destinations? Do you like planning everything carefully when you travel for photography?
It is very often last minute planning. What’s really important is the understanding of the location. Most of the timing depend on the elements, so you can’t plan everything out in detail. I plan as much as I can, but a lot of the time I just spend extended periods in certain locations to make sure I have captured what I aim to achieve. I’ll often go back to certain locations several times before I’m happy with the output.
What is coming next, after Maelstrom?
I just launched a new photo series Acquiesce the Front, which was presented at Photo London. With Maelstrom I was looking for the chaotic movements of nature and what’s behind them, but I was really focusing on the final big impact. I tried to make the new series textural and a little bit more abstract, more puzzling, showing the moments in betweens the waves as well. Like the situation on a global scale with all the worries about Brexit, Trump coming to power in US etc. I realise that’s a very liberal viewpoint, but everyone has worries which is my main point. I think that you can apply the aesthetic of the storm to what is happening socially, and in turn subjectively. The storms come and go but you can learn from them rather than let them envelope you, and you then apply that learning to the future.
I’m planning to exhibit Acquiesce the Front in November at the Michael Reid Gallery in Sydney, Australia this year. There are also a couple of projects that I’m still brainstorming. I want to incorporate a technological element into what I do. One half of me is attached to the world of nature, but the other half is bound to the technological world. I’m trying to explore how to make these two work together. I think that the future in general is going to be about the harmony of these two things. And we have to try to find this harmony, because advancements are not slowing down. That’s the direction, and there are several different ways I can approach that. I’m going to start with that broad idea, and I’ll see where it goes.