As you may have noticed, some quality surf images have been circulating recently of which were taken by Australian shooter Guy Williment. Based in the Avalon area of Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Guy was front and center during the massive swell events that rocked the area recently.
Interested to learn more, we caught up with Guy and posed a few questions to get a better back story on just who was taking all of these wonderful images. He was kind enough to include a few of those images for your enjoyment.
What Youth: Tell us a little about yourself. Born and raised, currently reside, etc.
Guy Williment: Hey Legends, born and raised on the east coast of Australia in a place called Avalon Beach, about an hour drive north of Sydney. It’s a special place and I’ve definitely learned to appreciate calling it home the more I’ve been able to see the rest of the world. All my best mates live around here, it’s got a great community and it can definitely pump out some world-class waves when there is swell.
I feel you can get the best of both worlds living here. I still get a bunch of commercial photography work being close to the city but you’re also far enough out of the hustle and bustle that you don’t feel fully immersed in the city lifestyle.
WY: When/how did you first get into photograph
GW: The whole photography thing came to me pretty late. I was 23 (I’m 27 now) when I finished my University Degree studying Media and I had no idea what I wanted to do after studying – but I did know that I didn’t want to end up in an office job working the 9-5 grind.
As a lot people do when they finish School or Uni, I started labouring work on job sites, mixing mud, digging holes that kind of thing just to save up some money to do some travelling. I eventually booked a ticket to North America and did a solo trip around Montana and into Canada for a few months. My sister lent me her Canon 7D for the trip and after that I was hooked.
I have always been an outdoor person, I guess growing up around the ocean you naturally gain an appreciation for nature. Having a way to capture it during that trip really sparked something in me. As I was travelling by myself it allowed me to share my experiences and stories with people back home which I really enjoyed.
When I got home, a few people hit me up asking for some small prints of photos that I’d shot on the trip. It was the first time I had ever made money from doing something I loved which was really exciting for me.
So, I was like fuck it, I’m going to set myself a 2 year goal to see if I could turn this passion of mine into my full time income and job. I started doing a heap of online photography courses, learning about lighting, camera settings, how to get commercial work and anything else I needed to know to start this journey. I was shooting a heap of stuff around home trying to build my portfolio which was mostly built around surf, outdoor & adventure lifestyle stuff.
Eventually, I started doing a bunch of assisting with a mate who was a film maker. This experience gave me a bit of an inside with people in the production industry and I started making some connections here and there. I was lucky enough to fall into a few jobs with some bigger companies which kicked everything off for me and I’ve been lucky to have kept it going since.
WY: What drew you into surf photography?
It’s kind of funny actually because when I first started shooting I wasn’t really into surf photography.
I felt so inspired having been in the mountains in the US that all I wanted to do was shoot mountainous and adventure landscapes but obviously being based in Sydney that wasn’t really going to work out.
I did a bunch of trips to New Zealand just to fuel that fire and gather more landscape based shots for my portfolio but the bank account ran dry pretty quickly doing that, ha ha.
Coming home I realised that the best thing I could shoot that was related to anything ‘adventurous’ was surfing which was right in my backyard.
Initially I wasn’t full into it because I didn’t have a Camera Housing and whenever there was a swell I felt I was missing out on something when I was shooting from the land. In a creative sense you can definitely shoot some incredible imagery from land but for me I was missing that challenge of working for a shot.
Buying a housing changed everything for me. I felt I was able to be a part of the action and it was so much more rewarding for me when I did capture that image I was after. I purchased the housing about 2 years ago now and have been completely hooked on surf photography since.
WY: Who are some of your photographer inspirations?
GW: I became super inspired by Chris Burkard’s work early on. For me, he was the first person that I had come across that was mixing adventure, surfing, and some incredible mountainous landscapes into the one. His work made it more about the adventure of finding waves rather than just the wave riding itself which is what really appealed to me. He is definitely number 1 on my list.
In saying that, there are also so many different photographers that inspire me. In the outdoor adventure realm, guys like Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk are always bringing out some pretty incredible stills and motion work.
In regards to surf photography, I would say I get inspired by guys that are shooting things a little differently. People like Corey Wilson, Ben Thouard, Phil Thurston, Brent Bielmann, Nick Green, and Chris Grundy all have their own twist on the capturing surf, which I love. Whether it’s shooting fish eye when it’s massive or just shooting a standard shot with a different perspective I love following all their work
WY: Digi or film?
GW: I’m pretty much full digi guy but I do back the film side for sure, there is definitely something special about it that is more beautiful. I have had one on a few trips I’ve done in the past and it’s pretty epic when you get home and see your rolls developed to see what you’ve captured.
But for what I’m trying to achieve and shoot, digital is definitely the way to go.
WY: Who are some of your favorite surfers to shoot?
GW: There are a bunch of local surfers around Avalon that are extremely talented so when the waves turn on around home I’m usually trying to link up with them. Guys like Letty Mortenson, Fraser Dovell & Beau Cram are all at the top of that list.
They all have a different approach to surfing so it makes it super fun to shoot. Letty is incredible in the air, Frazer always throws down some crazy big man turns and Beau is one of the most stylish surfers I’ve ever seen ride a wave so it’s a lot of fun for me when the waves turn on.
If I head down the coast to chase a swell it’s always good to see guys like Russ Bierke and Scott Dennis in the line-up, you know they are going to push it really hard when it’s big.
WY: Has your photography allowed you to travel some?
GW: Yeah, it has for sure, I’ve been fortunate to travel a fair bit for work over the past year and a half to places including Fiji, Africa, and a lot around Australia, however none of them have been surf related. Like a lot of surf photographers, nearly all trips searching for waves are self-funded. In a way, it is kind of good because I don’t have the pressure of creating something for someone else and I have complete creative freedom to shoot & create whatever I want which is always fun.
Our latest passion project, ‘A Corner of the Earth’, where myself, filmmaker, Spencer Frost, and surfer, Fraser Dovell, did a surf trip around the Arctic Circle in the middle of winter searching for waves which was incredible.
We had planned to do something similar again this year but we’ll have to put that on ice for the time being and wait for the boarders to open up again.
WY: Favorite locations to shoot?
I love travelling for sure, but there is definitely something special about scoring waves in your backyard that is hard to beat.
We have this reef break just out the front of my house called LA and when it’s firing that has to be up there with one of my favorite places to shoot.
Otherwise, some of the waves we surfed in Iceland were incredible to shoot. There was one wave in particular that was mental. It was this left slab about 800m out to sea and by the time we’d swum out there I was already freezing (water was 2 Degrees Celsius). The waves were pumping but I never really got the shot I was after because I was so bloody cold and was mindful of not getting hammered by a wave and having my wetsuit fill up with freezing water. I would definitely love to have another crack shooting out there.
WY: Any locations of the “short list” of possible future travel?
GW: Like I mentioned upon earlier, we were actually planning a huge trip at the end of this year to some pretty wild spots around Alaska and Russia but it looks like that we’ll have to put that on hold. For the time being its road trips up and down the coast of NSW which isn’t too bad anyway.
WY: The last few weeks have seen unbelievable surf around NSW, especially Sydney. Any tales you’d like to share?
GW: This winter has been unbelievable around home and the waves have seriously blown everyone’s expectations.
There have been some memorable and scary moments that’s for sure and I’ve copped my fair share of beatings but there has definitely been one moment that’s stood out above the rest.
One of the local boys from Narrabeen, Ollie Dousset, had a really tragic motorbike accident in Bali 2 years ago and unfortunately had to have his leg amputated. Fast forward to the last swell and I was witnessing Ollie drop into 8ft barrels backside using his prosthetic leg. It seriously blew my mind. The drive and determination that Ollie has had to maintain to keep surfing big waves is absolutely insane. Hats off to him big time.
WY: Last words?
GW: Just a big thanks for getting in touch, super stoked to share my story and work with you guys.
WY: Like-wise! Cheers.