Nick Hollman: Young, Free, Alright!
The Rad and Creative Youth of Australian Surfing
Presented by Arnette
Interview by Mike Jennings
Nick Hollman is a softly spoken, bordering on shy, seventeen-year-old kid from Cronulla. Still in High School, he's developing into one fine young surf photographer and his blog – a clean side scrolling gallery of surf action, moody beach landscapes and fish-eye frames caught from the heavy pockets of South Sydney reefs – has got us super-stoked. So stoked we figured we'd make him the first of our new regular feature: Young, Free, Alright!
CW: Hey Nick, can you tell us how you started getting into photography?
NH: I think it was Year Seven or Eight, something like that, and my mate's older brother got a camera and I just thought it was cool, so I thought about getting one. I just really liked it. I’ve kind of always been into art.
Cool, and what camera did you start with?
I think it was a… I don't even know what it was. It was like a Cool Pix or something, but a crap one. And then I took photos for the guy who runs the local surf school for a while and I use to borrowed his Canon 1000D and then I finally saved up and got a 7D.
What were you doing to save?
I was just working at the surf school, cleaning up and doing a couple of lessons. I also do surfboard art for people at the surf school and others. It took me a fair while. Just saved up money from birthdays and Christmas as well and finally got what I really wanted.
What’s it like shooting around Cronulla and growing up in The Shire?
It's alright, not amazing. There's no amazing backgrounds other than maybe a couple of buildings, but it's alright, there's a couple of waves. The main place I shoot is probably Sand Shoes ’cause it's close to my house and it's a good place to shoot. Cronulla is pretty busy a lot of the time but in Winter it's real quiet and that’s pretty good.
Do you have a crew of friends that you regularly shoot with, or are you just rolling up to the beach and hoping for gold?
I usually shoot with a couple of mates but sometimes they're away and I’ll try and get a couple of the older guys too, like Connor O'Leary and Cory Robbo because they, like, know what to do. They'll go out there and try and do big airs and do big turns but I usually just shoot with a couple of my mates from school like Chris Robertson and some other people… I dunno.
Are there any photographers that you really look up to?
Yeah there's a few, the top guys like Chris Burkard and Matt O'Brien, they're my main favourites along with Trent Mitchell and Morgan Maassen. But even Rielly Clarke (another young photographer from Cronulla), I look to his stuff heaps and see what he's doing. I definitely like how Matt O'Brien does all that street photography too and I don't know why but I really love portraits.
Have there been any shots of your own you’re particularly proud of?
I took one recently of Boobs out at Shark Island (currently being considered for a print in a major Australian surf magazine), I like that one a fair bit because that was really my first ever good water shot. I kind of paddled out there thinking it was going to be four-foot and I got pretty flogged out.
How are you taking to swimming out in heavy waves?
I've definitely thought about starting to train a little bit because I went out that day at Island and I pretty much got smashed. I was gasping for air. There was an eight foot wash through and I was shitting my pants, I was like, "Oh no!" Dived under that and got washed in so far. Definitely need to start training more and work on my fitness. But Shark Island is alright, it's not as bad as some other places.
You're starting to do some films now as well. Are you going to expand on that?
Yeah I'm definitely keen to go down that road as well and check it out ‘cause I'm getting a lot more work through that than I am with photos. I’ve started doing work with Surfing New South Wales now. One of the guys from Cronulla, Luke Madden, he hooked me up with a little job going around and filming the local comps and other stuff like that which is pretty cool.
How long have you had your website up and running?
I've had that up for two years maybe, but I was shooting pretty average at the start. If you go through the archives and I look back on them thinking wow, come a fair way from being a bit kooky with a camera.
Do you shoot every day?
I try to. In the holidays I definitely do, but school days not so much.
Tell us about school. What year are you in?
Do you like it, or are you hanging to get out of there?
Kind of just waiting to get out of it. Everyone says that school is like, you'll wanna go back there but I dunno. Our school is pretty…
Have you worked out what you want to do next year?
I'm going to try and get into a TAFE course in Ultimo (Inner Sydney) and then try and get a job in a studio somewhere. My mate's dad, he works in a studio and then there's a couple of other people in Cronulla that work in studios who I semi-know but I'd still like to try and do a couple of TAFE course before and maybe even in cinematography and go from there. Try and get little jobs in studios and eventually hopefully work in a studio or work in a surf photography business or something like that.
So what's the dream?
To just enjoy it really, and hopefully one day make a living from it.
Young, Free, Alright! is a new editorial series presented by Coastalwatch and Arnette. Once a fortnight we'll be showcasing and profiling a young and up-and-coming photographer, filmmaker, blogger, artist, musician, shaper, surfer or whatever that we've been digging. The rad and creative groms of Australian surfing. Alright!
To check out Nick's impressive photo blog click here.
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