Luka Kerr – Young, Free, Alright!
The Rad and Creative Youth of Australian Surfing
Presented by Arnette
Gallery and captions by Luka Kerr
Interview by Mike Jennings
When it comes to surfing in December, the centre of the universe falls on a small stretch of beach on the North Shore of the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. It's where legends are created, names are made, and World Titles are won and lost. It's a rite of passage for every wannabe surf-star, and for every future champion. So then, imagine being a budding young surf photographer from Manly, who just so happens to be spending that specific month on that specific rock. This is the reality for Luka Kerr, just 15 years of age, and witnessing some of the best surfing and most entralling ocean he's ever seen, all with a camera in hand. Our latest Young, Free, Alright! presented by Arnette, direct from the Banzai Pipeline.
CW: Hey Luka, set the scene for me. Where are you answering these questions from, what’s going on around you?
LK: Hey guys, I'm currently sitting on a wooden bench outside a Thai food truck along the Kamehameha highway right outside Pipe, Oahu. People are eating, cooks are cooking and I'm chatting to a little grom who's name is Tom Carroll. Funnily enough the 53 year old Tom Carroll who surfed pipe a few days ago, is staying in the house next to little Tom Carroll. Ha
That’s epic. How long have you been shooting for? What got you started shooting?
I've been shooting since around 2012 so just over 2 years now. My mum and dad were both into photography during high school and had a few film cameras and an old Canon 10D which I had a play around with, and eventually got the hang of aperture, shutter speed and whatnot. It just escalated from there.
You’re still a grom aren’t you? How old are you actually?
Yep, Im 15 at the moment but turning 16 in feb next year.
Where are you going to school? Are you enjoying school? Do you get to apply your photography skills in any way to school life?
I’m currently going to Redlands in Cremorne, Sydney which is good so far. Yeah, schools great, the people there are great. Unfortunately my school focuses more on the drama and music side of things but there is the option to do an art/photography course for my HSC, which I’m considering.
Tell us about Hawaii? What’s it been like shooting there?
Hawaii has been amazing so far, got here about a week ago with two other families (one being the grom Tom Carroll’s family). I spend most of the morning and afternoon shooting at Pipe or anywhere that’s working. It’s been awesome shooting here so far, the last week it has been pumping every day which leads to some great shots.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen while in the islands?
Thats a tough one. I guess the lifestyle over here is completely different to home in Manly. The people are more relaxed and there’s a chilled vibe going around. I’d say the craziest thing would have been either experiencing the most perfect waves I've ever seen, right on my doorstep, or sitting in the front yard watching the surf and having chickens walking up to you and flying over top of you. There have also been some crazy wipeouts at Pipe, which will be featured in my edit!
What’s been the most foreign, the most “that would never happen at home” moment you’ve experienced shooting there?
Probably riding my bike down the road and being surrounded by chickens flying everywhere and people weaving in and out of side streets. It’s just the hustle and bustle that catches me off guard and everyone seems to be going somewhere and doing something. Also, I’m overwhelmed by the number of people, especially photographers who get down to the beach at 6 am or so. There must be at least 30 photographers down there before the sun even rises!
What photo are you most happy with that you’ve shot there?
Honestly, I haven't been stoked with any photo as much as I would have liked, but hopefully that will change soon. Although I’m quite happy with the slow shutter speed ones I captured two days ago, and I’m also working on a short edit from my trip to Hawaii, which is in the making at the moment, but I have some insane clips and timelapses which will be featured in the 5 minute or so clip on my Vimeo account in a week or two.
What’s in your camera quiver?
I’m currently using a Canon 60D and a Canon 5D with multiple L series lenses.
What is your favourite thing about taking photos of the ocean?
This may sound cheesy, but when I get a good shot of a wave or surfer or anything ocean based, I feel stoked right away and just want to go home, load the image up, edit it and send it away somewhere to be looked at. I guess the feeling of getting a great shot lasts.
When is your favourite time to shoot?
On the East Coast, where I live back at home, I like to shoot during the morning, as you get backlit waves and the light in general at that time is incredible. In Hawaii, the light at sunset is amazing and thats the time when you get backlit waves also, so probably sunset for Hawaii.
Who is your favourite person to shoot?
I don’t really have “people” so to speak, that I shoot. I just make my way down to the beach when the swells good and shoot whoever is charging the hardest, then get their name and send the photos off later.
Who and what inspires you in the world of photography, inside and outside of surfing?
I could name hundreds of photographers that inspire me, including Corey Wilson, Ed Sloane, Pat Stacy and many more. Some people in general who inspire me would be Ross Clarke Jones and Jay Alvarrez and a few others too.
You shoot videos as well as stills. There are a few great photographers who are very good at both, like Morgan Maassen and Jon Frank, which is a cool path to take. How do you choose when you’re going to shoot what? Do you favour one more than the other?
I've learnt while being in Hawaii that in the morning at sunrise, the light isn't great for photos as I have to up the ISO a lot creating grain. So what I’ve done in the mornings is just shot video where I can and slow down the shutter speed, but still get good enough quality. In fact at the moment, I’m starting to like shooting video more. I feel it captures the scene better with music and slow and fast motion.
If you could spend one day shooting a famous wave in perfect conditions, anywhere in the world, with any surfer in the world, where and who? What time of day, and what’s surf like?
Easily The Right in Western Australia. I’d love to get out there on a jet-ski and shoot Chris Ross, a local who charges the wave like no other. I would try to get out there in the morning for the backlight and then stay out there for as long as I can. And perfect offshore winds with the swell topping 15-20ft. Those would be my dream conditions.
What’s the plan for the holidays?
I'm in Hawaii for almost a full month which takes up half the holidays, so shooting around here and Kauai is what I will be doing most of the time. Other than that, I will try get out and go to some new beaches around my home town and try shoot some different perspectives on things that haven't been seen before.
What’s the worst and best parts of being 15?
The worst part for me is that I want to do/get so much, but don't have the money or time to do it all! I’d love to travel to Tahiti and Indo and locations like that, but I can’t at the moment as my HSC exams are almost starting. The best part though is that you still have your whole life ahead of you and now is the time to try things out, like as photography for me, and see if you like them, maybe as a possible career path.
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. You could find yourself getting props as the next Young, Free, Alright! feature profile just like Luka Kerr here.
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