A love of the surf and many teenage hours spent bodyboarding have led Joshua Tabone to develop a new talent – photography. With no shortage of inspiring subjects to shoot and plenty of passion behind the lens, Josh’s surf photos are truly magnificent …
When did you move to Port Macquarie originally, and what was it like for you growing up here?
I moved from the concrete jungle of Sydney to Port Macquarie in 2004, at the tender age of 14. Moving towns and changing schools at that age was something I had only seen in movies … to experience it is a whole different story! Luckily for me, I met some really cool people – most of whom are still some of my best mates today. Growing up here was pretty fun; there’s always something to do!
How did you first become interested in bodyboarding, and how big a part did it play in your life?
Everyone in Port Macquarie has some connection with the beach. Let’s face it; it’s right on our doorstep. All my friends were keen bodyboarders, so it was natural for me to start – and I loved it! It is such a fun, versatile sport.
I used to surf as much as I could, so it played a huge part in my life – and still does. It also keeps you very fit and healthy.
What prompted you to first pick up a camera and turn your enthusiasm towards photography?
Well, myself and 2 other mates went thirds in a camera, to try and start getting surf photos of each other and get some exposure with the magazines. I played with it as much as I could, and it just fascinated me. I guess that is what ignited the flame.
We all had an equal 3 part share in everything, but the problem was, we lived at 3 different addresses. I ended up selling my share to someone else and started saving to get a professional one for myself. It is quite an expensive hobby, but I instantly became addicted. I enjoy the process of constructing a photo. There is always something new you can be trying, and that is something I love.
How did your photos first get noticed by the surfing fraternity?
I first submitted my photos to online websites and directly to editors of various Bodyboarding magazines. I had to do my research and track down the contacts for myself. Before long, they were requesting higher resolution copies. It’s an unbelievable feeling seeing your work printed in magazines that are distributed world wide. The first shot I had printed was from only the second time I used my camera. It has kind of just snowballed from there. My photos have been used in all the leading Bodyboading magazines, also for brand advertising, and just recently, I scored the front cover Issue 38 of Movement Magazine.
What makes a good photo, in your opinion?
In my opinion, understanding light is the key to good surf photography.
What it comes down to the majority of the time is staying focused, adapting to the conditions and being in the right place at the right time.
When I go out to take photos, I aim to capture a perspective you wouldn’t normally see. Water photography is amazing, but I also love landscape/pulled back photos, which gives the viewer plenty to look at.
In what ways are you still involved with bodyboarding these days?
I still surf a little bit. It’s good to go out for a little bash and have some fun from time to time. I travel a lot, judging Bodyboard comps nowadays. I judged all 8 events on the IBA Australasian Tour this year and also judged the IBA World Tour event in Margaret river, WA.
Judging is full on; you have to recall and directly compare every move and wave that goes down, so it’s definitely good training for when I’m shooting. They both require an extreme amount of concentration and awareness.
What do you think is the best photo you’ve ever taken? Why are you so proud of it?
I’m not sure … every photo is different, and that’s what I love about photography. The most rewarding one, that I am most happy with so far, would be the photo of Jones Russell that landed on the front cover of Movement Magazine. It is a huge milestone, that I am so stoked to have achieved.
Apart from surf and beach images, are there any other areas of photography you’re interested in?
I shoot portraits and lifestyles a fair bit. Basically, special occasions and pre-formal type things, where all your loved ones are together. I love working with people, and it makes me feel good giving someone a photo/memory they can keep forever. It is a busy time for me coming up to Christmas and the New Year, with families coming together.
How much do you get to travel around in order to take photos … any future travel destinations in mind?
Photography and judging have taken me all over Australia this year, from Queensland to Cronulla, and everywhere in between … also to the deep south of Victoria, South Australia and over to Margaret River, as I mentioned earlier. I am constantly travelling up and down the coast, chasing the best waves. You have to be on to it!
Living in Port and having some of the best guys in the world here keen to travel makes my job a whole lot easier. Plus, I have a very kind and understanding bunch of Managers down at the Commonwealth Bank [where I work] that allow me to be so flexible with my travels. I’m heading over to Hawaii for the first time in February next year, and then hopefully back over to WA for a stint there.
Where can people view your work?
All my photos found on my blog are available for print in any way, shape or form. If you are interested in a private shoot or you are keen to check out my personal collection, you are more then welcome. Please contact me on 0418 110 980 or through firstname.lastname@example.org
My blog is www.joshtabonephoto.blogspot.com – be sure to add it to your favourites!
Interview by Jo Atkins.