Zac Heath: Young, Free, Alright!
The Rad and Creative Youth of Australian Surfing
Presented by Arnette
Interview by Dan Caban
This year Zac Heath has turned 21, started getting back into photography, almost finished a university degree, travelled around the whole of this continent having a hell time with his mates and taking some amazing photos in between. With only 6 months of serious photography behind him, Zac is quite the fast learner and we reckon we should all learn his name because we'll probably be hearing a lot more of it soon.
CW: You’ve predominantly been a photographer, and recently been experimenting with filmmaking, talk us through your thoughts and preferences.
ZH: Yeah I haven’t really been doing too much filming, but I’ve been doing little clips with Jacko Baker and them, just before I went away on a trip. But since I’ve been back in town he has been away but we are going to start again once we get some decent swell. He was in Hawaii, and then he went to Sydney the day he got back and then up to the Sunshine Coast for a grom comp.
So how did you begin taking photos?
I’ve always liked taking photos and got into it years ago when Stab ran their Little Weeds contest, and I got an SLR then. But I kinda stopped shooting for ages and lost interest, but last year I messed around at Uni a bit. I had to choose some electives this year and I chose photography as an easy elective. I ended up learning heaps of techniques and started shooting with Jacko and went from there.
Is being from such an embedded surf town like Newcastle a big advantage?
Yeah, there are so many guys who surf so well. I used to live down near Belmont, like out of town, but for the last 18 months I’ve lived here and it’s so good to see guys that rip so much more regularly. Especially at work I can always see guys who are out ripping and I know if I knock off soon I can go down and get a few shots off.
I love your shot of Ando looking back up from Merewether to Bar, is that one of your favourite set ups to shoot.
Totally, Merewether is good, but I’ve been loving shooting back up looking that way. I got a good shot of Jake the other week as well. But around here there are a few good spots, but I like going down to Frazier Park or up north on a day trip with the boys. Earlier in the year there were a few good swells that I shot.
Those local guys who rip are part of a pretty tight group which is amazing for you to be in, are they epic to know and shoot with?
Jacko is probably the main guy that I shoot with because we go and check the surf pretty much every day he is home, but I really really enjoyed shooting Jacob Willcox when I was over in West Aus at Red Bluff. He is just insane to watch, when it is heavy and crazy he is such a class act. Those West Aus groms are so good to watch.
Was that when you were on the Foam Riders trip?
Yeah we did 100 days. We went straight across the country, then up to the Bluff and Tombstones for 2 weeks, and then worked our way all the way back around. It was a long trip but it was so sick.
That would have been so rad. How did you manage to get that gig?
One of my good mates got approached by the head of the Merewether Boardriders and he suggested jack Taylor as well, but he didn’t have enough money to do the whole trip. So I got called up and it worked out really well.
So what was the end point and result of the trip?
It’s a grass roots company. A couple from Newcastle that own it and they make it out of their back room. So they wanted it to be a marketing trip to get the name out there and shoot some content for the company. It worked out really well and we got to meet all the boys at Coastalwatch which was sick to help promote our photos.
There was pretty much a week that Line-up of the Day was your shots every single day!
(Laughs) Yeah there were a few days that were average so we had so much content to sort through and send off. For consistency the best we got was up north of WA, but the rest was just rainy and onshore and not much happening. But those gem days in like South Australia were amazing.
What equipment were you using most?
Just a 7D, I got it just before I left. But I have pretty basic lenses and stuff, I’m trying to save to upgrade and get a housing and all that.
How does your University and photography mix?
Well I’m doing an Environmental Science degree, but it’s been put on the back burner a bit because I really want to focus on shooting way more now. I’m into digital media way more. I’ll get it done to have a back up though.
Have you got a major aspiration now for the future?
I’m still just stoked on the trip that I went on, because it was only 6 months ago that I started taking it seriously. To get an opportunity like that already is pretty special. To travel the country and see some amazing young surfers in their home breaks, man, it wass sick. But to shoot with guys like Craig and Dane and Dion of course would be great. I’ve always thought to hang and shoot with the Gudauskas brothers would be pretty epic ‘cause they would have a hell time.
Young, Free, Alright! is a fortnightly editorial series presented by Coastalwatch and Arnette showcasing and profiling young and up-and-coming photographers, filmmakers, bloggers, artists, musicians, shapers, surfers or whatevers that we've been digging. The rad and creative groms of Australian surfing. Alright!
To see more from Zac Heath and his epic round Australia trip you can check out the Foam Riders Tumblr.
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