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The Inertia

Surfing talent runs remarkably deep these days and no matter the age, anyone willing to put the work in can make an impact. From 50-year-old tour veterans to 16-year-old rookies, age is truly just a number. And that goes for image-making as well.

Meet 17-year-old Byron McLoughlin, a young photographer and videographer from Sydney who The Inertia discovered chronicling the city’s Northern Beaches and its surfers with his lens. As you can see in the gallery above, the kid has a gift in both composition, and timing. And a fantastic understanding of light at a relatively young age.

“I’m pretty stuck on surf photography,” he told me. “I don’t get any sense of achievement from any other niches. I tried a lot and it didn’t give me the same spark I get when I’m connecting with my subjects in the water.”

Whether its youthful naivete, or straight-up courage (or both), McLoughlin is willing to put himself in harm’s way to get the shot. He’s found a specific niche in water photography that he says suits him to a T. “I try to avoid getting pummeled by waves, but it happens,” he says. “It’s a lot more leg work in rips and swimming to get into the right spot/position. Sometimes I try pushing the limits by going wide angle or shooting in front of the wave on purpose to inevitably get caught on the inside for a different perspective. It’s actually cool sometimes to test your fight or flight response to see how long you can hold your breath or how to try and stay calm and not panic. It’s also cool to try and swim under as far down as you can, chill there and wait for the chaos above to relax.”

Talented Teen Gives Us a Photographic Tour of Sydney's Northern Beaches

This kid is willing to lay it on the line. Photo: Courtesy Byron McLoughlin

McLoughlin decided to eschew traditional high school to chase his dream (he takes university courses online), which seems like a good call. The kid is good at shooting surfing because he understands the art. Unequivocally. “I got into photography from being a surfer,” he says. “When I was in the lineup watching other random surfers and watching random empties go by, I’d have these visions where I’d blink my eye and pretend to take images which is weird cause I wouldn’t get to look at them after. I got a camera so I could look back at those moments. It started with land photography. I explored that but there’s only so much you can do. It got boring and my work felt like everyone else’s. So I got a waterhousing and it went from there.”

The young Australian keeps busy by working other freelance photo gigs but his focus is on one thing: shooting waves. And from the looks of it, his work has a chance to help define the genre well into the future.

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