As is often the norm these days, a random photo on the Insta Explore page catches the attention. Maybe a follow, or perhaps even a full troll/deep dive later, and we are introduced to a new talent.
Well, new to us at least.
Ben Harney’s images caught our eye at first glance. Well composed, that great West Oz lighting and water color, and a very solid crew on the other end of the lens. It was a no-brainer to hit him up for a few questions and some images to peruse.
He responded and sent over a few gems from a recent run of swell.
What Youth: How did you get into photography?
Ben Harney: Growing up in Western Australia was main the reason why. I always enjoyed capturing my friends having fun skating or surfing. I bombed out of high school and enrolled into a multimedia course to try to get into university. My parents bought me a camera that year to help encourage me in that direction. Managed to flood that camera in a housing pretty soon after but it kind of rolled on from there.
WY: How about surf photography? Do you surf as well?
BH: It always been surf photography, started to dabble in some skating stuff later on. I’ve never really put the effort into learning how to surf, well, I grew up bodyboarding though. Just always been that person behind the lens.
WY: Who are some of the photographers of who’s work you draw inspiration from?
BH: Guys like Russell Ord and Chris Gurney were big influences growing up. Anyone that can make a comfortable living from surf photography gets points from me.
WY: Much of your work that we have seen is from Western OZ, is that where you are from? Live currently?
BH: Yeah, I grew up in Dublin, Ireland till I was around 12. We shifted to Margaret River and that’s been home since then. Been away for stints but always end up back here. Its some kind of vortex, I swear.
WY: Who are some of your favorite surfers to work with and why?
BH: There’s a bunch of talented surfers from home, so there’s always heaps of people to work with. Shaun Green is one of my best mates, oozes style, and loves every second in the water. He can always manage to make any conditions look good.
WY: Any local groms that we should be keeping an eye out for from your area?
BH: Cruz Uros is this kid that I’ve watched push himself on his skateboard on hands and knees since he was 2. He’s 9 now I think? He’s destroying all the bowls and skateparks down here and he surfs just as good! His family is really cool too. Definitely think he’s one to watch!
WY: Almost everyone shoots digital these days, how about you? Do you mess around with film at all?
BH: I’m working with a Nikon d500 at the moment. I can definitely appreciate digital but there are just some things with film you can’t recreate. Getting a roll of film back is exciting every time.
WY: Have you traveled much outside of Australia to shoot?
BH: I’ve traveled Australia and Indonesia pretty extensively. Did a snow season in New Zealand. Went to Hawaii for the season once, had a shocker. I’ll leave it at that.
WY: Ha! I think we’ve had a shocker in Hawaii once or twice! Favorite locations?
BH: My favourite would have to be Tasmania, the place is so quiet and every surf spot is scenic as fuck.
WY: With the COVID thing locking most of us down, what is the situation currently where you live?
BH: We’ve been so blessed here in Australia let alone Western Australia, to be honest not much changed. Perth is the most isolated city in the world, that’s played in our favour, for once. Beaches haven’t closed and the pubs have just opened again. It doesn’t feel real.
WY: Do you have any trips planned once we get back to normal?
BH: Nothing planned as of yet, I think international travel will be off the cards for a long time yet. A trip up to the desert though is looking more inviting every day.
WY: There is a lot of environmental issues facing Australians today, any thoughts on that subject?
BH: It plays on everyone’s mind, there’s a lot of crazy shit going on. The hard things is what to believe and take on board. I think people are definitely more conscious about what they eat and where their rubbish goes over here. I think awareness has grown hugely and that’s the first step in making any change. I honestly think humans, in general, value convenience over anything, everyone wants things now, faster and better. I think until we get are heads out of our arse’s, things won’t change on a large scale.
WY: Should surfers take a bigger role in educating each other and/or the public about these issues
BH: Yeah I really think they can, everyone can always do more. Life is busy though and no ones seems to wanna rock the boat.
WY: Last words?
BH: Shout out to the R.R.P
WY: Got it. Cheers.