Harrison Dancaster: Young, Free, Alright!
The Rad and Creative Youth of Australian Surfing
Presented by Arnette
Interview by Dan Caban
Harrison Dancaster is a migrant to the warm and vibrant Northern Beaches of Sydney from the much less balmy city of Melbourne, where he grew up through his grommet-hood. Though it wasn’t until the move north that his passion and skills for surf photography were honed along the surf filled coastline shooting mates and enjoying every minute. It was this froth and talent that got us stoked and made us book him in for our latest installment of Young, Free, Alright!
CW: What is your favourite thing about taking surf photos?
HD: I think the best part of it all is having shots that I can look back on from any session. When you’re on land shooting your best mates getting barrelled and stuff, it gets to you, but it’s worth it in the end, getting the shots.
There are heaps of dudes on the Northern Beaches shooting, how are you trying to stand out?
Yeah there is (laughs). I don’t really know, I’m just doing the same thing and shooting good surfers I guess. I’d rather not worry about it all though.
Does being younger make it hard to get time to shoot with school and other commitments going on?
Yeah it does, but you make time for it and in the end it’s worth it. A few days a week I finish before lunch so I normally just go shoot. I’m doing year 12 so I don’t have long left. I just got my license which has helped a lot.
How much satisfaction is it getting a good shot run?
It’s the sickest feeling, knowing that someone is actually enjoying your stuff, that’s probably the best thing about it all.
Have you been in any heavy situations shooting in the water or anything?
I have never shot water at all. It’s something I am aiming to do in the near future for sure though. Once I get some money saved up I’m definitely buying a water-housing to expand my shots. Although there was one heavy situation on land a few weeks ago shooting the women’s final at Bells. The rain was so heavy; I stood beneath the cliffs in a shirt using my jacket to cover up my gear whilst trying to get the shots. I got so drenched.
How long have you been shooting surf images?
I’ve been shooting properly since the start of the year. End of last year I’d stroll across the road to Freshwater beach and take fun shots of the boys surfing out there which was still pretty sick.
How did you get into it?
Well I used to live in Melbourne for 8 years and we’d always go on little weekend trips with a few boys to Torquay or Phillip Island. I always wanted a camera just to get a few shots of the trip but I never really thought of buying one. Until I moved to Sydney last year, that’s when I finally went and got it done.
Have you nailed any shots that you'll never forget?
Yeah, for sure there’s been a few, but the one that stands out the most is a shot of Taj Burrow at Bells a few weeks ago, it was in his semi-final against Nat Young. It was pretty early which meant the light was favourable. I just liked the shot, it came off clean.
Do you enjoy shooting lifestyle shots as well?
Lifestyles are so fun. When I go on trips with the boys it’s something I aim to have in my collection at the end of it all. Just recently I got back from the south coast where I ended up with loads of them. I’m frothing to start shooting more portraits as well.
Do you film many videos? What do you prefer?
I’ve done a few clips, it’s definitely something I consider doing a lot when I’m around good surfers, but at the moment I’ve just been concentrating on shooting stills. No doubt I’ll work on a new clip sometime soon.
Do you have anyone you enjoy shooting with particularly?
Yeah there are loads! I shoot a lot of juniors who are mostly my age so we all get along really good. Shooting the likes of Matt King, Pama Davies & Chris Robertson is always funny and definitely worth it, we always seem to meet up for constant trips; even though we’re all from different parts of NSW.
Is there anyone in mind you'd be really keen to shoot?
Well yeah I mean, shooting someone like Dane or Chippa would be crazy, but as for now I’m pretty keen to get some stuff done with Cooper Chapman as he lives pretty close.
How do you find the surf scene on the Northern and the guys you get the opportunity to shoot?
There’s so much talent around here to shoot, the only thing holding it all back is the waves. They can definitely turn on and produce, but a lot of the time it gets hard.
What was it like shooting at the Bells contest this year?
Bells was a trip I won’t forget, it was definitely worth the early mornings and the 2-hour drive from Melbourne in the little Corolla (laughs). I got loads of footage and the landscapes around there are mental!
Do you look up to any photographers?
Yeah for sure, I think the younger guys like Matt O’Brien and Duncan Macfarlane are standouts, thier stuff is so sick and definitely something I look up too. Andrew Schoener is another, he shoots film a lot and that’s something I want to get into.
What are you aiming to do after you finish school?
I’m definitely hoping to get right into the photography industry. I’ve decided it’s what I want to be doing in a year's time, but at the moment I’m just saving up money, I just got a job at a surf shop, which should help out.
What are you doing to help your future in photography?
I’m just trying to get as much exposure as I can with my stuff. I just finished off my new website which I’m pretty stoked with. I’m hoping to buy some new gear shortly as well. Hopefully things keep going as good as they have been lately and some new opportunities can arise that I can make the most of!
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 follow Harrison's work have a geeze at his brand spankin' new site over here.
To see more Young, Free, Alright! profiles click here.
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