Charlie Hardy: Young, Free, Alright!
The Rad and Creative Youth of Australian Surfing
Presented by Arnette
Interview by Dan Caban
Around any comp time, when the big-wigs roll into town you’ll pretty regularly see a plethora of contest photographers standing on the beach with their giant lenses capturing each drop of sweat on the surfers face – so when we talked to Charlie Hardy and he told us about his recent trip up to the Goldy and his aim to capture the unconventional comp shot, it put a smile on our dial. Here is his story.
CW: Dude! How long have you been into photography?
CH: I have been into photography for about four years. Prior to this I was concentrating on drawing and painting and from a young age I was always drawing the waves and surf. Many years of watching the ocean had inspired me to pick up the camera and document it.
Do you remember your first camera?
In my teen years I was using the family which was a Canon Compact Powershot. The camera I purchased for myself was a Canon eos 7D in 2009. I accomplished a lot of work and achieved many personal goals with this camera, such as taking photographs that were exhibited at the Armory Barracks at Olympic Park and Maitland Regional Art Gallery.
And it just took off from there?
From my first camera I started photographing and documenting things that had interested me in my childhood, for example the music scene and surf and skate culture. I was able to use my camera in all of these areas.
What equipment are you currently shooting with?
Over the past year I have sold everything I started off with and been gradually building a new collection of equipment. I'm currently using a Canon eos 1dx and several L series lenses. This equipment benefits me in the wide fields of photography that I engage with.
Your moody stuff is amazing! Is that something you dig?
To be honest the moody stuff is what I envisage in my mind, sometimes it takes me weeks or months to find the imagery, it is a creative process. I draw a line between documenting and creating, I'm always searching for new perspectives and introducing other elements, I try my best to incorporate the environment and the subject which is usually the surfer. There are times when I'm empty minded with no visualizations at all, and I will put myself into the surfer’s environment and try documenting as if I'm an observer. There is often some waiting time before I capture something close to what I'm thinking.
And obviously trying to capture more than just pulled in from the beach sorta shots?
I like to incorporate shapes, various tones, scenic backdrops and cultural elements. These features are often in a separate layer in the image, either in the foreground or background to create interest, such as a shadow, landmark or urban culture.
Its rad not only the way you can incorporate high performance surfing but a sense of the surfer in your shots I think. Even in those shots of Jake Sylvester, it somehow captures his raw power and I think that’s amazing.
Jake Sylvester has something different going on, watching him ride a wave, he seems to find something to connect with the wave and draws raw power into these 'cutbacks' and 'airs'. This makes it really interesting for me to create an image reflecting Jake's surfing ability by structuring a creative composition.
What other aspects of photography are you into? Portraits, lifestyles etc.
The other aspects of photography I am into are, Surf and Skate culture, music photography ranging from live music to editorial stuff. I really enjoy doing portraits and lifestyle stuff here and there. Oh and can't forget landscapes as well, anything with vibrant colours and sunrises/sunsets that I thrive.
Which photographers influence you?
The photographers that have inspired me for years are; Scott Pommier, Trent Mitchell, Mark Clinton and Clara Balzary.
What is this trip you're on?
The past week I have been up in Queensland on the Gold Coast photographing the surf action at the Quiksilver Pro and capturing free surfing around Coolangatta. I returned back there over the weekend to document the developing swell.
Sounds sick! Any plans for after?
My plans from here are to continue my freelance photography and continue on building more personal work for my future website.
About Young, Free, Alright:
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!
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