Over the past year, we’ve had some incredible photographers contribute to The Inertia. A few weeks ago, we ran a contest to find out which portfolio was your favorite, and after the voting had finished and the ballots had been counted, Ray Collins, a photographer from Eastern Australia, came out on top. We thought we’d ask Ray a few questions about his inspirations, reasons of success, advice for aspiring photographers, and the digitalization of surf photography. These are his answers, along with a few additional images.
How does it feel to be chosen as the winner for The Inertia’s 2014 Portfolio Challenge?
I feel pretty darn stoked! Stoked that people appreciate the time and effort that often goes into making a single image. Thanks to everyone who voted!
Where do you get the most satisfaction out of photography?
Usually when I think of something, like an image in my mind. Going out and creating that is what gets me stoked. Sometimes the results aren’t exactly the same as what you imagined, but it keeps it all exciting nevertheless. I really want to show things that haven’t been seen before. That brings me the most satisfaction. Dream, plan and execute.
What advice would you give to aspiring surf photographers?
The very first thing you should do is ask yourself , “What is my motivation for making images?” Try and keep the reasons pure. To create. To enjoy the ocean and the outdoors. To have fun. Shoot what YOU want to see, not what you think others want to see. Shoot with as many different types of lenses as you can from the water. Shoot in all types of conditions. You will develop your own personal style eventually. If in doubt, don’t go out.
Favorite photo of all time?
For me, it’s hard to go past Jean Guichard’s Lighthouse.
What are your thoughts on the digitalization of surf photography?
I only got my first camera in 2007, so the digital transition was already well underway. I guess it made the progressional learning curve a lot more timely and favorable. Some of the purists at the time were a little snobish that I didn’t start with “proper” photography (ie. film). But times change and we must adapt and embrace. There was no real social media back then or Go Pro, so the development of technology and sharing has enabled everyone to be a photographer, which I think is great!
I think it’s crazy that you can see some teenage kid’s shore break photo in Brazil, scroll down and see cleanup sets mowing people down Waimea Bay, and scroll down further to see someone surfing in daytime darkness in Iceland – all with your thumb and eyeball in (almost) real time. Digitalization of photography has enabled more people to create and the bar to lift higher and quicker than ever imagined. It does, however, create a sea of mediocracy, but as long as people are enjoying themselves it’s all good. The cream of the crop will always rise, regardless.
Please don’t think I’m a pelican for saying this, but water and light are my biggest inspirations.
What does the future hold from Ray Collins?
All we have is now. Be present.
Also, check out the rest of the entries in the 2014 Portfolio Challenge. Next announcement, the Editors’ Pick for 2014.