We always relish the pics that Matt posts .. its good to catch up with an old friend. Matt moved to Australia from Dorset and finds him self capturing some epic moments.
I grew up in Poole, Dorset. An awesome place to be a kid, with beaches, islands, forests, heathland and craggy coves all within easy reach. After uni in Plymouth I spent a few years in Bristol and then London but the last 4 years I’ve been living and working in Australia. I was in Bondi for a while but now live further south in Cronulla. There are loads of waves to choose from south of Sydney, less crowds in and out the water and a real community vibe in the towns.
Why?I grew up bodyboarding and used to buy the VHS tapes from the No Friends crew out in Hawaii, charging huge Waimea shorey and crazy Pipeline. People like Spencer Skipper and Jeff Hubbard. Me and my mates would get hyped up and then go surf waist high mush at Southbourne, ha!
More recently I’ve been getting into ocean and surf photography and I've spent a lot of time looking at people like Ray Collins, Peter Jovic, who does some super smooth slow shutter shots, Woody Gooch and Gruet Florian, who does some great portrait style imagery in the water.
It always resonates when I hear other people saying they find the ocean calming or relaxing or humbling or meditative. Those emotional things definitely play a part, but I also think the draw has to do with the rational side as well. It’s such a dynamic place, you have to read swell forecasts and wind forecasts. You have to know the angles in the coast and what the tide will be doing. If I’m planning to shoot I use cloud forecasts to work out what kind of light I’ll be shooting in, which in turn influences the wave I’ll head to. When all of that comes together and I score epic conditions and get some great shots, it’s as much about my preparation being rewarded as it is about being in the moment and surrounded by the ocean.
When I moved to Australia I swapped my road bike for my brothers Nikon D3000 and a kit lens. It was a basic set up but it got me out there taking photos. After maybe a year of playing around with that I knew I wanted something better and my Dad, who's a passionate photographer himself, gave me son's rates on his trusty Nikon D7100 and an 18-200mm lens. From that point on I just photographed everything I could, figuring out the technical and artistic side of shooting.Then about a year ago I realised I needed to get the camera out in the surf to really capture the angles I was imagining in my head. After a lot of research I went with an Aquatech Compac/Elite housing and a fixed 50mm f/1.8 lens, which is perfect for what I shoot now.
The ocean?I love ocean swimming. Picking a spot down the coast and swimming to it feels amazing. Where I live is real rocky so the water is crystal clear and there are loads of fish around.
I still get out surfing and bodyboarding on the less photogenic days. But I've lost count of how many times I've been running round the apartment, trying to decide whether to surf or shoot, only for the wind to go onshore before I make a decision and I end up sat on the balcony with a coffee doing neither!
I recently completed a Surf Life Saving course so I can volunteer lifeguard on the beaches through the summer. It was an awesome way to build confidence in the ocean and hopefully deal with situations when they go wrong. Some of the spots we surf can be a bit remote or difficult to access, so knowing a bit about First Aid and handling yourself in the water could come in handy.
Now?Right now I’m actually off work, nursing an old back injury that flared up after shooting an amazing swell at Shark Island a few days ago. I’m chilling on the balcony with a view of the ocean and 200 photos to sort through, so I’m happy!
I recently bought a car so I’m excited to hit new spots up and down the coast and chase the last few big swells of the winter down here. I’m considering buying a dome port and a wide angle lens for some of those ‘in the barrel’ shots. Summer is just around the corner and I’m keen for some warm water and weekends camping out.Most memorable oceanic moments ?
We get quite a few dolphins in the bay where my girlfriend and I live. One morning she was working out with a friend on the rocks and text me to say there were some dolphins close in. I was still in bed but jumped up, grabbed my wetty, put the camera in the housing and was out the door. I got to the coastal path and set off at full speed in the direction the dolphins were heading. I reached the jump off spot, yanked on my flippers and was in.
They immediately disappeared.
I figured I might as well swim out to where there were some waves breaking and see if I could get any shots of the surf. After 30 minutes of average waves I was turning round to swim in when I heard a ‘whoosh’ behind me and turned around to see about 8 dolphins hanging in the water only a few meters away. They almost looked like they were watching me. I pointed the camera at them and held the shutter down hoping at least one or two would be in focus. They came towards me, passing on both sides super close, came up for one last breath and vanished again. I was late for work but a couple of shots came out, so I think it was worth it!