During an amazing run of swell a few weeks ago on the Gold Coast, images started to emerge which captured some incredible moments. Some of the best of the batch were being credited to local photog Josh Bystrom.
We reached out to Josh and he was kind enough to answer a few questions and send over a few select images from his files.
What Youth: Born and raised in OZ?
Josh Bystrom: Yep born and bred in Currumbin on the Gold Coast, still here actually!
WY: What got you started in photography?
JB: Both of my parents initially. My dad, Chris, made surf films for 20 years and mum is a high school photography teacher so we kind of always had cameras laying around the house.
WY: Oh, of course, Chris Bystrom! Blazing Boards! We see the resemblance. Who were some of the other photographers who got you inspired?
JB: Guys like Peter ‘Joli’ Wilson, Ted Grambeau, and Brian Bielmann. They all have such a vast portfolio of great images spanning across decades.
WY: Do you surf as well?
JB: For sure, I still surf a fair bit around home but generally when its smaller, when it gets good I’ve gotta be shooting. Exception being when its raining and/or the lights bad, or the resort guests are surfed out!
WY: Any images that stand out in your early memory as a frothing grom?
JB: Any old shots of Kelly and Andy surfing good barrelling waves. I’d have posters of them up on my wall from surf mags I’d bought and looking at them would always make me want to get wet. I also love great old shots of guys like Michael Peterson surfing waves like Kirra and Burleigh which have completely changed nowadays.
WY: It looks like you get much of your work is around Australia and the Gold Coast. Have you been able to travel a bit to any other countries?
JB: I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a bit of time shooting for surf resorts in Fiji and Indo. We don’t have to many reef breaks here in southeast QLD so shooting in those places really just ads a different element to each session. I’ve also had some memorable sessions shooting at Peurto Escondido (Mexico) and Pipe (Hawaii).
WY: Any “bucket list” trips you haven’t been to yet that you have planned?
JB: Being no stranger myself to a long reeling sand bottomed surf break, Skeleton Bay has been on my bucket list for a while. The footage and imagery that comes out of there is just so impressive, the raw landscapes, accessibility issues and and a very core crew who surf it would make it just a crazy experience.
WY: The last swell at Kirra looked all-time. That term gets thrown around a lot, how would you rate it?
JB: I thought it was a really good swell for its size, but best ever I would say no. That swell direction (east) generally makes for tricky conditions with lots of waves shutting down. For some reason that particular swell it was just ruler edge and there were some crazy ones made. Going back years there were definitely a few cyclones, most notably Winston and Gita where it was just madness out there and almost twice the size.
WY: We know the current at Kirra can be brutal. How hard is it to stay in the right spot?
JB: For sure, typically any swell with a but of east in it is okay, however any with SE, SSE or a straight S swell you tend to get get these crazy rips through the lineup and really struggle kicking just to hold your position in the line-up.
WY: We noticed a bit of fishing on your IG, do you get out there to tug on a few?
JB: Nah! I’d love to do more though. The fishing shots I take I’m out there to shoot (and help them get through their beers)!
WY: The shark situation seem kind of crazy over there these days. Any comments or thoughts on possible solutions?
JB: A lot of places are being overfished, by-catch from people targeting different species often die, I honestly don’t have a solution for that however I do feel more sustainable measures need to be implemented moving forward. Creating more awareness is also a crucial thing.
WY: Everything is so focused on digital these days, do you load a roll or two of film from time to time?
JB: I’ve for sure dabbled on a few of my dad’s old cameras, it was a great little learning curve figuring it all out. Only shame is how expensive buying the film and developing it is so I generally stick to digital for the most part!
WY: A lot of creative work gets “borrowed” on social media these days. How do you feel about that and do you have to chase down unauthorized reproductions very often?
JB: It’s for sure annoying, you get businesses and companies wanting to use your imagery for free when you don’t know them, they aren’t prepared to reimburse you in any way and you were the one who was out there with all the gear taking a day off work bobbing around in the line-up. A few dollars or some free gear goes a long way in creating respect for a label.
WY: Last thoughts?
JB: Just want to say thanks guys for thinking of me and caring enough about my work to want to feature it. If you’re reading this and have made it this far I really do appreciate it.
WY: Where can we follow your work?
JB: Instagram @joshbystrom or alternatively www.joshbystrom.com or Facebook @joshbystromphotography
WY: Thanks Josh. Cheers.