All that glitters on the goldy…

After the end of winter I flew up to the Gold Coast for a mighty Metallica concert up in Brisbane, and decided to stay here for a while at Casa El Rad with some work lined up from early November. It’s a good thing the the Bligh State Government changed the State slogan to “Queensland: Where Australia Shines” from “Beautiful One Day, Perfect the Next”, because we know that isn’t true. There are some amazing sub-tropical downpours up here, and long-range forecasts for more cyclones up north, which will be great for waves down here on the border. And at least after the storm comes the sun, and with it, rainbows over the waves.

I’ve taken my camera down to Coolangatta a couple of times, and last night snapped a few sunset shots after a fun surf session. There were dolphins out in the water bobbing lazily between paddling boarders, and not far off shore some huge whales splashed around. Unfortunately, by the time I had finished checking out the sunset it was too dark for the couple of shots I took of the whales to come out properly. But I hope you enjoy the Coolangatta photos below.

Over on Snowboarder Magazine’s website there are some shots of mine of Jeremy Burns from Falls Creek. It’s a nice little online profile, and I was glad that these shots from 2009 finally managed to see the light of day (see some of them below too). I’ve shot a couple times with Jez this last season, and there are sure to be some bangers of him in the mags next year. And we also have a fun little project in mind for overseas this coming winter. So stay tuned to Radman and Radical!

Changing topics, and getting back to one of my favourite issues, recently Coastalwatch ran an interview with a well-known surf and fashion photographer. Jason Reposar  started out in graphic design, didn’t like a surf photo he had to turn into an ad, so picked up a camera and some film and shot his own ad…and the rest, as they say, is history. Coastalwatch’s article is a shortened version of a longer interview in a new online magazine called 18 Seconds, and omits some of his colourful past…and even more colourful quotes. For example, when asked about his favourite (photographic) subjects he replies: “Pussy, music and surf. If I wasn’t a photographer I’d still be interested in those three things.” I hear ya, Jason!

Reposar has some interesting things to say about the state of surf photography, the switch from film to digital, and the influx of new photographers under-cutting the pros and deflating the industry:

”With digital cameras and the explosion of surf photography, it’s become harder and harder to make a living from just surf photography. You’ve got all these kids now whose parents bought them a camera and they’re swapping their shots for clothes and empty promises. The magazines and clothing companies are taking full advantage of this. It’s really killed a lot of careers because some of the older guys who have been doing this for years and have families, are suddenly taking huge cuts in salary. They’re having to work harder for a lot less money…

I think that some of these new guys are killing off careers and sending really talented surf photographers to other areas of photography to make a living. Most importantly, they’re killing any chance of a career they might have by underselling images and poaching other photographers…

Why would a company pay $3,500 for a great photo when they can get a good one for a few t-shirts and a pair of boardies?….It’s the companies that I would hold responsible for controlling the pay rates. You can’t really blame an uneducated 18-year-old with a 600mm for trading shots for product. Maybe after they’re brought up to speed on this game you could, but what kid wouldn’t be stoked to get a shot in print?”

So in a lot of ways it sounds like a similar situation to snow photography: when you are willing to take photos for the pure love of it, it makes it tough on the guys who are also trying to make a living out of it. Now I just wish snowboard companies were willing to pay $3500 for a photo for one of their ads! I’ve discussed the issue of what a photo is worth, about a surf photo of mine being published in a newspaper for free, and about how to try and protect your digital images from being used and abused by companies that should know better. If you are interested, take a look at the blog entries here, here and here.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Reposar has some ideas about how to make it better for the pro photogs…and it’s quite similar to an idea a great Aussie snow photographer had a couple of years ago..a shame we couldn’t get it to take hold:

“It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and it’s all fuelled by corporate greed. This is no surprise to me and I don’t think it should be any different. What should change is us… the photographers. We need to unify and create a union to provide security for ourselves. Make some guidelines for pricing, maybe some health insurance for the dangerous situations we have to put ourselves in. We should have some security for our families and most of all have some consequences which companies take up the arse when they get caught breaking the rules of the union.”

Bi-Coastal Surf Sessions

My last weekend in Melbourne was action-packed, helped by a 3 day visit from brother El Rad, who was keen to try the cold waters off the Surf Coast. Fortunately on the Saturday the weather was actually warm and sunny, the water retained a lot of its summer heat and the waves were pretty clean and off-shore. Annoyingly, an amateur surf comp was on at Jan Juc, clogging up the beach, so we headed down the road to 13th Beach, where all we had to dodge was a few horses. Yes, horses. They allow them to gallop along the beach – maybe they were inspired by Old Spice?

We made it back in time to Melbourne to join our cousin James, who’s on dog-mauling injury-leave from his Northern Territory Thunder footy team (see the front-page article here…but which is nothing compared to James’ brother’s wife’s boobs-inspired front page effort! Most popular story on news.com.au. Check it here). I hadn’t been to the football in ages – man it has changed, and not really for the better. But it was good to sit in the new(ish) MCG northern stand, even if it does feel a bit like you going up the escalators to a shopping centre to get to your seats.

El Rad was keen for a bit of a bi-coastal surf mission on monday: the waves were forecast to be all right on Monday morning, and with a 1.30 pm flight back to the Gold Coast he was hoping to hit the waves up north too. We set out well before dawn – it was a nice sight to see the city in the golden morning light, but not really worth giving up a comfortable sleep in and warm bed when the thermometer showed 4 degrees going past Geelong! After a hard-work short session out in heavy overhead waves at Torquay back beach (a couple of dudes were absolutely ripping, almost getting barelled) it was straight to Tiger Airways at Tullamarine for El Rad. Two hours later he walked through the gates at Coolangatta with his carry-on bag, picked up his car and was straight to Currumbin Alley for another hour-long surf till the last light slipped behind the hinterland. It’s pretty epic to be able to get two surf sessions in during one day, basically in two separate oceans and 1800km apart!

The next day it was my turn – sort of. I flew up to the Goldy, surf board in tow to spend some time in the warmer weather with waves at the front door…not an hour and a half’s drive away. It’s great up here – and pretty relaxed according to the postcards! Unfortunately the bogans over the road have found another piece of junk car to clog the street up with, but their house is on the market so they’ll be moving their infestation along soon I hope. There’d been a huge storm the night before I arrived and couldn’t replicate El Rad’s Currumbin surf – the water coming out the rivermouth was as brown as strong tea! I didn’t want to risk paddling through that, even if it is mostly just silt and leaf tannin, it means there must be all sorts of other chemicals and pesticides washed down from the hills.

As fun as it is up here, it’s going to be tough to handle when the snow starts to fall and the lifts start to run down at Falls Creek – I think that might be my cue to head south again. So take a look at my photos – we caught some great sunsets down south, but really nothing compares to the light and sunsets up here. There’s something about the water, mountains, storms and setting sun that consistently creates the best evening visions of anywhere I’ve ever seen.