Manning Valley local Alex Brunton is forging his career in the world of photography … and he’s not half bad! With salt water in his veins, he spends a lot of his time in the water, capturing amazing images. We caught up with Alex to find out more about his brilliant career behind the lens.
Hi Alex. Can you tell our readers a bit about your background pre-photography?
I grew up on the Mid North Coast, starting in Taree, after which time my parents made the transition out to the coast. I have spent the last four – five years living on and off between Sydney and Old Bar. Schooling was interesting, although I never really enjoyed it. I spent some time at a local private school and then Taree High School for my later years. I am grateful to have been able to experience both institutes. Surprisingly though, I never studied photography!
So, when did you first become interested in photography? What in particular got you started?
During times such as holidays away, my father always had a camera on hand with him when my brothers and I were young. I guess that would have been my first introduction to photography … playing with our family’s old style film camera.
At around the age of 15, I brought my first camera from someone who is now a dear friend. He taught me a lot about photography and life. My interest in photography just grew from there.
What genre of photography would you say you specialise in, and why?
Surf photography is what I specialise in, mainly from within the water. It came naturally to me, having been someone who grew up around the ocean, but the feeling and process is just so nice … being immersed in such a raw, beautiful mass. It’s more of a documentary style of photography. You only have a certain amount of control when you’re floating around out there, and the reality of it is that most of it is up to Mother Nature – and lots of patience on my part. I do enjoy this style of photography, but I also enjoy creating. Portraits, still life and motion are certainly a big interest for me also.
Are there any photographers or photographic styles that particularly inspired you?
There are, and have been, so many great photographers that I’m aware of. However, my major inspiration at the moment would have to be music. Music creates feeling without any visual aspect. I really enjoy listening to music, from classical to experimental. In relation to other photographers, I find you can get so caught up in what other artists are creating and forget to create yourself.
Is there anything you feel you’ve had to overcome in order to follow your photography passion?
Yes, I have had to overcome my own personal expectations – my thoughts on what I am capturing.
Can you describe a typical “day in your life” for our readers?
If I’ve got a shoot for a surf client, it’s normally an early start at around 5am – 6am to try to find coffee first, and then head off to the ocean.
Depending on conditions and the client’s brief, a typical morning surf can last two – five hours, and this normally involves a mixture of shooting in the water, as well as capturing some images from land.
Once that’s done, I head back from the beach to upload images to the computer.
After that, there are potentially requirements for me to shoot more surfing, lifestyle and fashion images, and generally I would be finishing the day at around 6pm.
After dinner, I spend time looking through the day’s images – generally into the night – the all important job of backing up images, charging batteries and packing gear for the next day, sleep hopefully by 12am.
That sounds very busy! What do you do when you’re not on the job?
When I am not on the job, you’ll find me catching up on emails, surfing, listening to music and spending time with my partner.
What do you love most about working in photography?
The flexibility is always nice, but it would have to be the fact that every day is different. It’s never dull and boring. One day might be spent in a studio, and the next day I’ll be floating around in the ocean somewhere!
What’s been your most challenging shoot to date?
I was travelling through Japan for two weeks, shooting for a surfboard manufacturer. We travelled 10 hours down the coast from Tokyo to a small village. While we were there, the locals told us about an outer island with a long point break. We found a local fisherman in the harbour who agreed to drop us in the waters surrounding the island, and it was arranged that he would come collect us after a couple hours.
Well, a couple hours quickly turned into four hours of floating around at sea, and with a fishing channel only a couple of hundred metres away, we were under a fair bit of stress! The fisherman never did return, but thankfully a local surfer helped flag down a boat. It was such an unreal place and we managed to capture some nice images, but I have never been so glad to get out of the water!
What are your goals for the future?
I am planning on doing some travel this year, as well as working on some personal projects which will hopefully eventuate into short films and a solo exhibition.
What would your advice be to anyone thinking about getting into photography professionally?
Practice and perseverance. It’s not easy. Also, knowing your style and where you want to be is always helpful. Another great way to start is to assist other photographers whose work you love and admire. I feel that this is the best insight to learn technically and create a professional workflow.
Interview: Ingrid Bayer.