Fraser Spratt: Young, Free, Alright!
The Rad and Creative Youth of Australian Surfing
Presented by Arnette
Gallery by Fraser Spratt
Interview by Vaughan Blakey
You wouldn’t think that falling off your skateboard and dislocating your ankle, breaking your leg and having three steel plates drilled into your bones with 20 stainless steel screws would be a good thing, but for 18 year old Brisbane grom Fraser Spratt it would turn out to be the best day of his life. It would also turn out to be the best day of your life because that horrendous injury was the sliding doors moment that steered Fraser away from bombing hills and into taking photographs. Photographs that your eyes are about to look at right now. Photographs that will stimulate a series of synapse responses in the nucleus accumbens resulting in feelings of extreme happiness throughout your brain and other parts of your human body.
CW: Do you prefer Frase or Fraser because I don’t want to come across as over-familiar.
Fraser: Either is fine. I’m happy with both.
I shall call you Fraser then.
So Frase, I’m calling to talk about Young, Free, Alright!, or more specifically about featuring you in the Young, Free Alright! section of Coastalwatch.
Yeah sick, I’m stoked to be a part of that. I love checking out all the up and comers and the photos they’re shooting. It’s sweet.
Tell us about your relationship with surf photography?
Well I commute to the coast whenever the surf is good. I suppose I got into it when I broke my ankle. I’d always liked photography but when skating went out of the frame I turned to photography and surfing instead.
Brisbane is a bit of a hike from the beach. Where did the pull of the coast come from?
I’ve always felt a connection to the coast, my parents had a unit on the Sunny Coast so I spent a lot of my childhood up there. It’s just a nice scene with nice people and I like being in the water.
Did you have a camera as a kid?
Dad used to work in an old camera shop and do wedding photography with old film cameras and I used to play around with his old gear and he inspired me to take photos really. I grew up with film, I haven’t done a lot with film lately but as a kid it was cool to experiment with different techniques with developing and printing. We had a dark room under our house so I used to spend time in there mucking around.
Is there anything better than playing around with poisonous chemicals in a confined space with no ventilation when you’re a kid? That sounds like heaven.
Haha, yeah it was good.
Did your dad give you tips on developing your style or how to use light and composition and all that shit?
He’s really into portraiture so light and shadow and framing your shot were kinda the big deal.
Tell us about your equipment?
I use a 50 mil heaps in the water, it looks really cool I reckon. I got a Canon 300 V Film camera, a 5D mach 3 and a 7D. I mainly use the 5D mach 3 in the water with my housing. I use like a 100-400 and an 8-15 fisheye.
You shoot around the Gold Coast, have you made any connections down there?
At fist I was just making the drive down the freeway whenever the surf was good, rocking up to the beach and hoping someone was surfing. But lately I’ve made friends with Jackson Coffee and Corbin Hutchings which has been really good.
Do you have a favourite photographer?
I really like Blake Myers. My sister and Blake and Nanda Ormond hang out a lot so I get to see a lot of what he’s up to. When we’re out surfing those guys are always about fun and not taking it serious. It’s a nice attitude to be around. They have a good sense of the absurd which is a really good way to approach photography and life. I don’t want to be full on all the time. I want to be able to chill out.
What’s the next step for your photography.
Well, I’m doing a plumbing apprenticeship with my dad so photography is something I do with my free time at the moment.
Wow! So you’re in the ideal position. You have a hobby that is extremely expensive and a trade that is totally lucrative. Perfect match!
Yeah, except that the apprentice wage isn’t that good so it takes a long time to get enough money to buy new camera gear. What I’d really like to do is have plumbing as a part time job and photography keeping my creative side happy.
What’s the worst thing about plumbing?
Blocked drains for sure. Pulling gross stuff out of blocked pipes like tampons and possums and disgusting stuff like that.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve pulled out of a drain?
Probably an unopened can of soft drink. Why would you flush a full can of Coke? People are strange.
Ever found a fully grown alligator that someone flushed down the dunny 30 years ago?
No but I wouldn’t be surprised if I do one day. There’s some weird stuff down there.
You know where you should shoot? South Straddie, because there’s a massive pipe that spews into the ocean and you could combine your two loves of plumbing and photography.
Haha! Yeah that’d be perfect. I’ve actually never been there but I’ll have to check it out one day soon for sure.
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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