Andreas Thoma – Young, Free, Alright!
The Rad and Creative Youth of Australian Surfing
Presented by Arnette
Gallery by Andreas Thoma
Interview by Mike Jennings
What did you do last night? Did you spend it in a hospital getting your hand all stitched back together after a terrible surfboard shaping accident? If you answered “yes” to that bizarre and specific question then there’s a good chance you’re a 15 year old from the eastern suburbs of Sydney by the name of Andreas Thoma, a kid with a passion for photography, the ocean, and a certain flare for catching serene underwater moments. If you answered “no”, well then, read on and click’n’flick through the gallery and get an idea of the world of Andreas, our latest Young, Free, Alright! presented by Arnette.
CW: Good morning Andreas, how’s your hand?
AT: It’s good, it’s starting to hurt now because the painkillers are starting to wear off but it’s alright.
Shit man. How’d you do it?
I was using a planer taking some foam off a board and my hand was kind of in the wrong place at the wrong time, yeah.
And you had to go to hospital?
Yeah I had to go to hospital, I think the plastic surgeon had a look at it but I think they just stitched it up.
Well I hope it gets better soon. What were you shaping?
Thanks.I had an old eight foot soft-top that I found in the street and I was cuttings it down, I’m going to make a small little fish board.
That’s rad. And what are you up to right now? Getting ready for school and stuff?
Yeah I just showered with a plastic bag over my hand.
Oh man, that’s pretty inconvenient for a teenager in the morning… but hey, I’ve been loving your shots. I was going through the hash tag yesterday and I found your stuff and was stoked. Good work man. Where abouts are you from Andreas?
Thanks. I’m like a ten minute walk away from Bondi. It’s pretty good here, it’s kind of different to other surfing beaches ‘cause the waves aren’t always that great but there’s always heaps of people in the water.
What’s it like growing up in Bondi, because it kind of seems like no-one in Bondi is actually from Bondi, so it must be interesting to actually grow up there?
Yeah well, when you go out in the water there’s always at least one or two people that you’ll know and it’s pretty good. You know who’s from Bondi and who’s not, if you know what I mean.
How’d you get started shooting?
Well my dad has always been into photography from when he was a young guy so, he kind of had all the gear, but I wasn’t really into it until this one trip to Noosa we did for a family holiday, I just decided to take some pictures and see how they look and I was just frothing with how they came out. I couldn’t stop from there.
Sweet. And what sort of camera equipment are you using?
I was recently using my dad’s 5D Mark II, his old one, and he had an old SPL housing, but we just sold that and now we’re waiting to upgrade to a 7D Mark II hopefully.
So your dad’s right into it then.
Yeah he really wanted to get me into it. He was always showing me the more arty side because he liked that more, but wasn’t until I got into surfing that I really wanted to take photos of what I was looking at in the water. Once I started surfing heaps he wanted to take photos so he’d come out in the water and shoot.
My dad was exactly the same when I was a grom.
Yeah, it’s pretty good because you get lots of photos of yourself (laughs).
Oh yeah, I’ve got boxes of photos of my brother and I as groms. They’re the worst. So now when it’s pumping do you opt to take the camera out instead of a board?
It’s a pretty hard decision, I’ll try if I can to do both, but it all depends. Either way I always have fun, y’know.
Do you have a favourite shot out of the ones you’ve taken?
Not yet, I’ve got a couple which kind of like look how I wanted them to look in my head, but not yet, I’m still waiting. I really like the underwater ones with the swimmers, bodysurfing when the water’s really clear.
That one of the guy going upside down is a great shot. It reminds me of a shot I’ve seen somewhere, maybe a Jon Frank shot, I’m not sure. Do you have favourite photographers?
I really like all the guys on the Young, Free, Alright! page, I reckon it’s really cool to see what all of them are doing. But I’d say Woody Gooch, I really like his style and how he frames his shots.
Yeah, he’s great. Do you have any goals in photography? Are you still just 15?
Yeah I turn 16 in March next year.
Far out, so do you know if this is an avenue you want to go down, or are you just busy being a 15 year old at the moment and seeing what happens?
It’s a bit of both, if it ends up somewhere good I’ll be really really stoked, you can’t really get bored, so if I can make a career out of this then that would be awesome! But either way, I’ll be happy, whether you’re doing it for your living or if you’re just doing it for fun.
I think your photography is not really surf photography, it could be surf photography but I think the strengths in it are just kind of…
It’s kind of different I guess, it’s a bit more lifestyle inclined.
Well you know Eugene Tan from Aquabumps, he does surf photography, but it’s more like really good beach-lifestyle photography, and I kind of feel like you fit into that category.
Yeah, ocean based.
So do you look at anyone else outside of surf photography, have you started clicking around the Internet and found someone who has caught your eye?
Not anyone specifically, but my dad likes to take me to the Australian Centre for Photography on Oxford Street, and look at all the galleries, which I didn’t really used to like but now it’s kind of a different side of the same coin, now I look at it in a different way. So all the portraits from different countries and different places, I really like them, they can tell a story with just that one powerful image.
Has your dad been the one who’s been teaching you how to shoot?
Well once he taught me the basic things about aperture and shutter speed I just kind of tested it wherever I was taking pictures and seeing what settings worked the best, I’m still trying to perfect that, but I’ve learnt that there isn’t really a perfect set-up, it’s different every time.
If you could be doing anything when you finish high school and even beyond that, if you could wake up in five years time and be like, “everything has gone exactly as I wanted it to go,” what would that be?
If I wake up in five years I’d probably want to go for a surf in the morning, and I do a job that I like, whether that’s taking photos or something else, as long as I like it, and then maybe go for a surf or take photos for the afternoon. That’d be a pretty good day for me.
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 Michael Wood here.
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