This is the 12th episode of the second series of our podcast, thank you so much for all of you that are following us every week!
Today’s special guest is very talented surf photographer from Australia, Cait Miers.
We discussed with her about her career, surf, surf photography and her latest projects.
You can find the interview in the major podcast platforms (Spotify, iTunes, YouTube and many more) or read the interview below, forgiving us of spelling mistakes due to the transcribing of the audio part.
TTOS : Aloha Cait, welcome to the show! Where are you today?
I’m really well, thank you. I’m in Byron Bay, I live here in Australia on the East coast and yeah, sunshine, winter … all is good.(the interview has been recorded last august 2020)
TTOS : How Is it going over there? I heard that the country lock down again for the coronavirus… people can still surf?
Yeah, we were okay right here in Byron, we can still surf and still go outside and go to restaurants and things.
I’m actually originally from Victoria down on the Mornington peninsula and they are all back in stage three, locked down, which is, you can’t leave your house for any other reason, but work or exercise or anything like that…..it kind of sucks my family and friends down there, but I’m kind of glad I’m up here.
TTOS : Today we’re going to talk about your projects, your career and many other things….
first question…. in your opinion, what is the most important thing in surfing?
Oh, wow……I think it’s definitely having fun.
I find the ocean and surfing to be my little savior, I absolutely love it and I think it should be a place where anyone can go to and yeah, it’s beautiful.
TTOS : If I ask you the same question for surf photography, what would you answer?
I think surf photography, it’s up to the individual.
You know, everyone has a really different eye and that’s what makes it really special….
There are so many different elements, when you’re shooting in the water that is moving, you’re moving, you know, the sun’s moving, everything’s moving.
So I think to get that special moment actually is quite difficult.
I love and I really appreciating amazing surf photos cause I know the hard work that goes into it.
TTOS : Do you surf right?
Yes I do…..
TTOS : because not all the surf photographers are surfing ….
Yes, I know….
I have a hard time balancing between the two….
TTOS : What is the surfboard that you’re currently using?
I am pretty much a longboarder now, I grew up shortboarding, but now I use a 9/6 longboard by McTavish and I love it.
I love to surfing like smaller, fun waves rather than crazy stuff, but then I love shooting a bit more like bigger waves
TTOS : You are safer when you surf, but when you take pictures, you want to get into the action, right?
Yeah, I feel really comfortable taking photos in the bigger waves, I grew up swimming and that was kinda my sport when I was younger, so I feel really comfortable swimming in the ocean, which is probably like the number one thing when you’re a surf photographer.
TTOS : I guess your best shots are the ones that you take in the water and not the ones from shore or from a boat…..
Sometimes, being in the water, it’s a hard decision to make…. if I’m on a shoot and I’m tossing up between whether I’m shooting some lens from land or in the water and the photo is always going to look better in water.
That’s why I tend to get in the water more, but it is a hard decision to make sometimes because you’re kind of guaranteed the shot when you’re shooting from land, whereas in the water, anything can happen, which does make it more exciting.
But, if you have to get a photo, then that also becomes harder.
TTOS : I know what you mean, especially in the case there is a client paying for that photo, he wants the best shot…
In that case, probably, I’ll do a bit of both, I’ll shoot a bit of water to get that angle and then shoot land as well, just to make sure I nail it.
TTOS : How do you deal with adrenaline and fear while shooting in the water?
I definitely feel adrenaline when I’m shooting in the water, that definitely kicks in…
I have few fears, but I generally don’t really think about them when I’m in the water, because I’m just focused on what is the task at hand.
I don’t go out and shoot crazy big waves at all, that would be scary for me; generally the stuff that I’m shooting are fun, sun’s out and not too much crazy stuff going on.
TTOS : Have you ever found yourself in a moment where you were saying like “Oh my God, I don’t want to be here, I made a mistake, there is too much risk…”
I’ve had a few like early on when I was kind of learning, I definitely get myself in some hairy situations because I wasn’t reading the water properly.
I think this is a huge thing with surf photography, you always have to be aware of your surroundings and of your position in the lineup because it can change so much and, if you get stuck, then “see you later”
I haven’t had any too crazy situations, but I actually shot Jaws in December 2019, and that was like insane, but I was on the back of the ski that was definitely was a lot of adrenaline and fear going through me then.
I just went for it and got it done….that was pretty crazy experience.
TTOS : Do you think that being a surfer helps you in the quality of the pictures that you’re taking?
Yeah, a hundred percent.
I think also that a relationship between a surfer and a photographer is really crucial.
When I’m shooting, I kind of get really familiar with the way that they (suffers) surf, I believe you can link up a lot easier and he creates a lot of cool photos.
I think that is important to have that kind of relationship and relaxed feeling around someone, if you’re going out and specifically shooting one surfer and then it’s good for them to feel confident in you as well to get that shot.
TTOS : Definitely, I agree with you….
I have a very difficult question, if you had to pick one picture to be used to represent your work,which one would it be?
Oh gosh, that is so hard.
I feel like a photo that I’ve taken, that’s probably like someone laughing and someone’s smiling and being happy to surf. I think that’s a good depiction of what I love to capture and who I am as a person as well.
I feel like a lot of what I capture is a lot of who I am as well reflected in that probably a photo along those lines. I pretty much always shoot women’s surfing , this is my big passion,just shooting women. In their natural state, no makeup, no fancy clothes, just on the waves, surfing, having fun. That’s exactly what I love to do.
TTOS : Which kind of equipment are you using, which kind of camera, what is your favorite lense?
I use a Canon 5D Mark IV, I’ve had that for a few years now and I have ever parted with it just cause I love it.
I have got a few different lenses, I’ve got like a 50 mm 1.2, 70 to 200, I’ve got a 24 to 70, but my favorite lens in the water, it’s actually the 70 to 200mm because it gives me like such a good zoom.
I use Aquatech Imaging Solutions for housing under water and I’ve used them since day one as well and they’re amazing.
Having 70 to 200 in the water really gives you like such depth and you can actually sit not as close, you don’t have to be super in the action to capture what you want to capture.
You can kind of hang back cause it’s zoom so much.
TTOS : You know, you are the only surf photographer, so far, that told answered me Canon instead of Nikon……very interesting….
You make a choice at the start of your career, I guess…. In my case, I studied photography at uni in Melbourne and itwas like : “Oh my gosh, I have to choose, I have to get a camera….I have to choose and I remember, this time of yearfor a couple of months, I was researching and researching and I actually found out that, at the time, there were a lot of Australian photographers that were using Canon….
That’s the way I went, but today there are so many different and more cameras coming out now…
I love trying new things, but I also am a creature of habit and I feel like as a photographer, you’re only as good as you know your camera, if you would hand me a Nikon today, most probably, I would you take the worst photo ever!
TTOS : Because you’re not used to the settings right? Once you go for a camera and you start to buy lenses, you will never go back…..
It’d be hard for me to transition to it another brand.
TTOS : Yeah. Unless the Nikon decides to give you for free a full set of lenses and cameras, and then maybe you think about it,
Then I’d probably forced myself to do that, I’m an open book, this is just kind of what I started working with and it’s worked for me now….
TTOS : Who are your references in in surf photography of people that you really look to and you really like?
I have a few, I guess, like it changes depending on what inspiration that I’m looking for as well.
When I was younger, I used to really look up to this lady, Claire, she was a mentor for me in uni and she used to shoot a few of the Rip Curl campaigns and stuff, back in the days.
I was just a teenager and I was like: “I have to do exactly what she’s doing”… we still chat today and she is like “I can’t believe what you’re doing now”, she helped me along the way, I definitely drew a lot of inspiration from her early on.
I just get inspired by people like photographers that are just creating their own stuff, not copying anyone else and staying in their own lane….
TTOS : Let’s talk about your project, “The Clique”, can you tell me more about that?
I started the Clique, last year in January, and it started off as a few surf photography workshops in person because I wasn’t really motivated and I was trying to find what was kind of next to me in terms of satisfaction and I just thought I had everything at my fingertips, a living barn, great connections that I could take, a lot of young girls asking me “how do I shoot in the water?”
It was like “This is it”, I want to help these girls live out their dreams and help them to have that opportunity that every person, should be able to do it.
I started with some workshops and then it’s transitioning more online now because, you know, of what’s happening in the world.
I started a online course called the field photographer and it’s a five week online course that you can buy and just log into anywhere in the world and basically it’s just every thing that I’ve learnt along the way, packaged it into like five weeks of crazy trainings and videos and everything.
That’s going really well and then I’m building out a bit of “a new platform” I’ll call it because I haven’t really decided to what it is yet, but that should be launching in the next few months…..it’s so exciting. The whole aim of “The Clique” is to inspire women to go after their dreams, whether that’s photography or whether that’s something else, it does focus on photography, but I feel like there’s that broader message there just living out your true potential.
TTOS : It starts with that and then, maybe somebody is taking the course and starts to think about something else….
Exactly, like I felt in my career, I had a goal, a lot of big dreams, huge dreams and I went out and kind of achieved them in a very young age. I kind of thought to myself, well, if I can do it, anyone else can do it. You just have to like have self-belief and confidence and and that’s the message that I want to kind of pass on to other women.
TTOS : I think people, they need to see positive leadership, I think if we would have more people that would inspire others the whole world would be much better and different….right?
Yeah, I agree with you…..I don’t want to look back and go “I had all this time and I didn’t do anything with it”. I know that everyone’s happiness is different, but if you got one shot to go after your dreams, what it, however big it is, go for it.
That’s my kind of messaging that I really want to put out to people.
TTOS : If you had to give a suggestion and advice to a new surf photographer, which one would you give?
Well, I would say… dream big and nothing is impossible.
And I would say, if you’re really passionate about it, go for it.
I think you just have to be passionate about it, in surf photography or else.
I’m not passionate about food photography, so I couldn’t go and do a career in that.
Surf is my passion, so that’s where my photography went.
If you are a young and up and coming surf photography is a lot of self-belief and confidence is something that you’ll need and learn along the way, and “Go for It!”
TTOS : We’re going to finish our interview with a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes up to your mind….
The best surfboard that you ever ridden…
Probably my nine/six Mctavish
TTOS : Your favorite shaper?
TTOS : Personal question, your favorite song.
I do love Yellow by Coldplay
TTOS : your favorite surf spot?
TTOS : your favorite surfer
Stephanie Gilmore, she is our queen.
TTOS : The last question is a little bit unusual, we want to know your best relationship advice.
Well, you probably shouldn’t take any from me…. anyway, I think it’s really important to have like your own thing going on and then your own life, your own dreams and then you can come together and create a nice relationship.