Sam Venn: Young, Free, Alright!
The Rad and Creative Youth of Australian Surfing
Presented by Arnette
Interview by Dan Caban
Photos & Captions by Sam Venn
Wouldn’t it be rad to get shots you took of your best mates getting barrelled off their melons at your local break run in some of the biggest surfing and bodyboarding publications in the country? Well 17 year-old Sam Venn, regularly seen under the lip at Shark Island, is no stranger to this thrill. He's not only a fine photographer, but focused on his dream and digs being in heavy waves with his mates. Meet your Young, Free, Alright! profile number 10.
CW: Tell us a bit about what it was like growing up in the Shire.
SV: Yeah, it’s great. I’ve had heaps of support from the local guys and being able to paddle out and everyone being so nice to you is really good. And the waves are good so it’s sick.
Waves like Shark Island? You do a lot of water shooting out there, right?
The first year I got a housing for my camera and shot big swells out at the island, and it’s scary but its great fun and it’s a thrill to do it. To watch guys dropping into these crazy waves is so good. I’ve been shooting there for three years I think. It’s the main place I shoot.
How long have you been shooting for altogether?
Well all my life, but with a proper digital SLR camera around four years now. It’s the first proper, good camera I’ve ever had.
What is it like shooting a lot of bodyboarding?
Well that’s kinda where I started out just taking photos and that. All my mates are bodyboarders so... It’s kinda surreal to be able to shoot both bodyboarding and surfing. Watching surfers drop into the Island when it is big is crazier than watching bodyboarders ‘cause it seems a lot harder to handle such big waves.
What is the bodyboarding photography industry like compared to the surfing side?
I hang around a lot in the Emerald Bodyboarding shop in Cronulla so I’ve had heaps of help from Des, who owns the shop there, and I’ve been able to send heaps of photos to bodyboarding magazines and websites and they were the first ones to really take them on. That’s where I started out.
What’s it like having shots run in mags?
Well recently, yesterday it actually came out (at the time of interview), I had two photos in Riptide Magazine. One was a double page spread. The other one was of a really good mate, it was kind of a profile on him, so that’s great. The first shot I ever got published I was the most stoked on ‘cause it was of a good mate Jack Irvine and it was out at the island. He is one of the guys who runs Space 44 and they support me heaps. I have a gallery there. They got me to send Surfing World a shot and they liked it enough to publish it, so I was stoked that Aaron (Girgis, also behind Cronulla's Space 44) and Jack helped me with that.
That was a cool shot huh.
Yeah, I really like it. I was super stoked. The rest just sorta came from shooting and sending photos to mags and getting numerous replies and just waiting till they actually liked one enough to publish it.
There's a lot of good young talent coming out of Cronulla right now, with you and Nick Hollman amongst others, what’s the vibe between all you guys?
Well of course there is a lot of competition between all of us ‘cause we are always competing so send our stuff away first and get the best replies. But Nick and I help each other out a lot like sharing our gear and going out together and having good experiences out in the waves. But he more shoots surfers, and I can get help off him from that, and I shoot more bodyboarders and I can give him advice and can tell him more of what we look for in a photo.
And you guys are close going to school together as well.
Yeah I’m in year 12 at Cronulla. I’ve got a lot of classes but only one photography class. Its not that we take it as a joke, but ‘cause Nick and myself are a little more experienced than the others we finish our work fairly quick and find it kinda easy.
Is there anything outside of school that helps your photography?
I’m doing work experience at The Leader (local Sutherland newspaper) soon. Just doing some work experience with the photography section so I can get experience at some other places and get better.
Living in Cronulla, are there any local photographers you like? Or any other guys?
I really like this south coast photographer Ray Collins. He shoots some of the best bodyboarding and surf stuff I’ve seen as well as lifestyle I really look up to him. Local guys who have really helped me out are guys like Mitch Pearson. He takes some amazing stuff.
How was it having a stall at the Art of Living Festival this year?
Yeah the festival is in Bundeena and I also exhibited photos in the gallery they have. In the actual art exhibition gallery. I sold one so I was pretty stoked about that. It was good to show my stuff around to all the people there and to get feedback from the people who hadn’t seen my work before and being able to actually sell one was great.
So what do you want to do when you finish school?
I want to work in the surf industry of course. But in the surf industry I don’t think there is heaps of money behind photography unless you’re really, really big which of course is hard ‘cause there is so much competition out there. Definitely I would love to do that though if it was possible. But I would love to work for a magazine or a newspaper like where I'm doing work experience. That’d be great as well.
– To check out more of Sam's work head over to his Facebook page. –
Young, Free, Alright! is an editorial series presented by Coastalwatch and Arnette. showcasing and profiling young and up-and-coming photographers, filmmakesr, bloggers, artists, musiciasn, shapers, surfers or whatever that we've been digging. The rad and creative groms of Australian surfing. Alright!
To see more Young, Free, Alright! profiles click here.
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