Aidan Stevens: Young, Free, Alright!
The Rad and Creative Youth of Australian Surfing
Presented by Arnette
By Mike Jennings
Gallery and captions by Aidan Stevens
Aidan Stevens from the Tweed Coast is 18 years old and in High School. “So what?," we hear ya say, "There’s heaps of kids that are 18, and in high school.” “Woah,” we reply. “Why so hostile? We weren’t even finished with the intro yet.” Weird. Anyway, Aidan Stevens here is quite a handy surf-photographer with a refined eye for good light and kink for fiddling with shutter-speeds too. More than that, he’s got a good attitude. Check this for a positive quote from the young photog: “rollicking in the ocean whilst my friends wiggle on a surfboard and I capture their stoke! It’s pretty funny and amazing when you think about it.” Sure is! Let’s have a look at his gallery and get to know him further for the latest profile of Young, Free, Alright! presented by Arnette.
CW: Aidan my man, where are you from? How old are you? And what’s your favourite non-surfing related photo, video, song, film or book?
AS: Hey dude! I’m 18 years old and was born in Victoria. My favourite non-surfing photo would have to be an image taken by National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry. It’s a completely mental image where a diver standing on the ocean floor is being approached by a whale, just something to behold really.
Are you still in school? Hate it, love it? Indifferent?
Still in school, sitting my HSC soon actually. Jeez I’m so nervous! I really dislike school, it’s such an uncreative and un-thought provoking institution, quite the opposite of what it should be. I still am trying my best to get the best result I can though!
How long have you been shooting for? What got you started shooting?
I can’t really remember the first time I picked up a camera, I've always enjoyed making little movies with legos when I was younger and mucking around with my dad’s camera. I got into it seriously after I had surgery and couldn’t surf for a month or so, I picked up a camera and sat around the beach shooting my friends doing their thing and just fell in love with surf photography. Clichè I know.
What camera did you start with and what do you use to capture images today?
The first camera I really started using was an Olympus U Tough, just mucking around with Macro modes. My weapon today is a 7D teamed with a Dave Kelly housing rig, I am loving being able to shoot from the water with a proper DSLR. Cannot fault the Dave Kelly rig whatsoever.
What is your favourite thing about taking photos of the ocean?
It’d probably have to be the feeling you get when you link up with a surfer doing a radical air or rail turn, and even just being amongst the waves and enjoying yourself with friends, frolicking in the ocean whilst my friends wiggle on a surfboard and I capture their stoke! Its pretty funny and amazing when you think about it.
When is your favourite time to shoot? Conditions wise, light wise, time wise etc.
As anyone would say, when it’s pumping! I love to shoot from sunrise to about 12 or 1, each time of day has its own individual characteristics that could supply a different vibe to a shot. I love mornings for barrel shots and silhouettes of surfers, the perfect glassy conditions before the wind gets on it. Midday is pretty rad too, hard light creates the definite lines, dark shadows and bright whites that I love to use in portraits and lifestyle.
Who is your favourite person to shoot and why?
I have two favourites, Chippa wilson and my good mate Robbie Rickard. Chippa because of his transcendence when he surfs, every time I watch him bottom turn and eye off a section I almost forget I have a camera in my hands and need to get a shot, his dancing with the waves is beyond anything. And my mate Robbie, he’s just a beast and a rad human, he can bust out rail turns and throw spray that stings as it hits you, throw his fins like a boomerang and obliterate any section he sees.
Tell us about shooting on the Gold Coast? A lot of good waves, a lot of good surfers, but also a lot of photographers to try and stick out from too?
It's crazy, I mostly shoot just south of the Goldy but whenever I do shoot up there, boy it’s a scene! The waves are world class but so are the crowds. Snapper has become a zoo, there are as many shredders as there are kooks and they all want to take off behind the rock. I’ve been scared for my life shooting out there. The class of photography around here is on another level too, so many amazing photogs from Willem Ungermann to Sean Scott. The grom photographers are also getting good, especially a mate of mine by the name of Oscar Clarke.
Who and what inspires you in the world of photography, inside and outside of surfing?
Photographers like Morgan Maassen and Nate Lawrence, their style strongly influences my shots, trying to get away from the overdone fisheye shots to more artistic, soulful images of surfing, that's what I really love! Outside of surfing, Cory Richards. His images are just... wow. I mostly find inspiration when I’m swimming without my camera, I’ll watch a wave or a surfer and see how they move, the intricacies of the motion, and think, “Shit, that would make a good photo!" Then spend days trying to produce what I’ve seen.
What are your goals ultimately?
My dream is to become a professional surf photographer, like Morgan Maassen, to travel and capture images of the best surfers in the world doing their thing!
What are you doing tomorrow?
Waking up, checking the beach and hassling Chippa to come shoot!
A little over a year ago Coastalwatch and Arnette launched Young, Free, Alright! a series showcasing the inspired young community rising in Australian surfing – introducing talented new faces doing rad stuff every fortnight. Now, we want you to join us and be Young, Free, Alright! Just hashtag the fruit of your work on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with #youngfreealright and we’ll be all over you like a bad op-shop jacket at a Year 12 Formal. Our favourite photo or video each fortnight wins a pack of goodness from Arnette.
On top of that you could find yourself getting props as the next Young, Free, Alright! feature profile like Mikey here.
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