Pierce Anderson: Young, Free, Alright!
The Rad and Creative Youth of Australian Surfing
Presented by Arnette
Gallery and captions by Pierce Anderson
Interview by Vaughan Blakey
Pierce Anderson sounds like the kind of name you’d expect to see on the poster for a photo exhibition outside a gallery in Paris or New York or Tokyo. It also sounds a bit like the kind of name you might find on the nametag pinned to an 18 year old bodyboarder behind the counter at a Sunshine Coast McDonalds. There’s a good chance it could one day be both, because the same kid flipping those cheeseburgers also happens to be one of the finest up and coming surfing lens people in Australia. We decided to talk to him because as science has proven time and time again, that’s the most common form of communication between two human beings.
CW: Hi Pierce, how’s it going?
Pierce: Good, just finished work.
Anything new going down at Maccas?
I don’t know man, I just walk in and look at the menu and go “Wow, that wasn’t there yesterday.”
So Ronald doesn’t call you into boardroom meetings and say something like, “Ok guys, here’s the rollout for this week. We’re going hard on McFeast for the next three months, so really push those bad boys like you mean it.”
Nah, but I think they might be bringing out real steaks soon.
Real steaks or just mince rolled up and shaped into real steaks?
Nah, I think they’re real steaks.
Woo! Sounds awesome.
Ok, let’s talk about you Pierce because we’ve been scouting your photos for a while now and you’re doing some beautiful stuff. How long have you been shooting for?
I’ve been shooting for a year and five months. A good mate of mine Ben Osborne was into it before me and when he got all his gear I remember thinking, “That’s pretty cool.” When I was 17 I began looking into it and that’s when I decided, “I’m gonna quit bodyboarding, get a housing and a camera, and start taking photos of the people and the surfing around Noosa… because there’s so much talent up here.
How is the bodyboarding scene in Noosa?
The crowd at Noosa is mainly surfers. If you get five bodyboarders in the line-up then that would be considered a lot of bodyboarders. On a big day everyone will get their waves, there’s a bit more respect, but when it’s two or three foot the crowd gets ridiculous and bodyboarders are definitely on the bottom of the pecking order. I didn’t know a lot of the local surfers at that stage but now in the photography scene I’m getting to know them so I guess photography is more respected than bodyboarding.
Looking at your photography it’s clear to see you put a lot of value in composition. Is that something that came naturally or was taught to you?
Well I think Chris Burkard is one of the best photographers in the world and so I’ve always looked to him for inspiration. But the person who personally helped me along the most was Nate Smith. He would share info on gear and shooting and pretty much everything really. He’s not really like a mentor but I made friends with him one day and said, “I really love your work can you assist me while I learn a bit more,” and he said “No worries mate, hit me up any time you like.” It was nice of him to do that. I really appreciated it because there’re photographers out there with massive egos and they don’t tell you how they shoot or where they shoot and it’s just a big secretive game to them. I was stoked for his guidance and help.
Did he ever show you his centrespread in Australian’s Women’s Forum?
No he didn’t
Probably for the best, man.
Haha! Is that legit? I’ll have to message him about it.
Nate shoots incredible action photography. He’s a real specialist when it comes to colour and focus and high energy yet there’s an esoteric quality to your work. That’s removed from that. What’s your motivation when you’re pulling the trigger?
Nate and a local guy Woody Gooch taught me to have a sharp eye for detail. Sussing out composition is pretty hard and I’ve tried to change my angles and stuff but detail really travels. They’ve both been a big influence on my work for that reason and I think what they produce is top level and I’m just admiring it and trying to be as good as that one day.
Do you look outside of surfing for inspiration?
I’ve interviewed Krystle Wright who’s a highly respected adventure sports photographer and that was amazing. And then there’s Jennifer Stenglein. She’s pretty cool. I love her stuff, abstract and different compared to others in the same field. But mostly I follow the surf scene and in particular the locals up here.
What do you study at uni?
I’m studying a diploma of photo imaging. It’s basically portraiture and commercial photography. But I’m more trying to get the surf side incorporated into what I’m learning. It’s taught me more about light, more about my camera, composition, everything… the whole deal.
What are you shooting with at the moment?
I’m running a Canon 7D usually with a 50mm or fisheye in the water depending what the surfs like. Looking through the 5D or the 1DX and with a CMT housing.
Do you get into all that arty deal? Hasselblads and Lomos and all that?
Not really. I know my camera inside-out pretty well and my focus is trying to refine the skills I’ve developed. In the next five years I may invest in some film cameras. Its unfortunate I didn’t learn on film because a lot of the real talent in today’s photography world are people who started with film. They actually compose each image really well before they take it because they only had a certain number of shots, whereas on digital it’s just click! click! click! you know? But in five years I might move towards medium format or even film.
You got your heart set on a career in photography?
People say there’s not much money in photography but I think you can make it work. It’s a very expensive hobby but I got a little pathway that I’m really enjoying.
Follow Pierce on Instagram
Tag #youngfreealright and join the rad and creative youth of Australian surfing
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 just like Pierce Anderson.
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