An ocean wave bathed in golden light barrels into the shore and fleetingly forms an oval-shaped frame around two surfers waiting for their next ride.
It is a dreamy moment in time captured from the shoreline by photographer Romy Becker-Roache who knows it is something special the
second she presses the shutter button.
That photograph – given the name Bells Golden Magic – takes pride of place on a wall of the delightful Gilbert Street shop and gallery space Romy opened in March of this year.
“I just knew that when I took it, I caught it,” she says, smiling at the recollection.
“I couldn’t really look at my camera because it was already too bright by then.
“I could not wait to get home and see what I captured and it was just magic, it really was.”
Romy’s affinity with photography dates back to her school days and it is something she has focussed on more recently following a career in interior design.
She grew up in the coastal hamlet of Dutton
Way near Portland and says time spent on the Surf Coast took her in a new creation direction.
“It rekindled something I think has always been there waiting to come out,” she says.
“I have travelled a lot and always had the camera over my shoulder.
“I was spending so much time down here at the beaches and decided it was time to buy a new camera and give it a shot.”
She pursed that love of photography three years ago and her more recent vision of opening a bricks and mortar store is now a reality.
Framed landscape images adorn the walls of the compact space which enjoys a cosy arcade position within metres of Torquay’s front beach.
Alongside her framed prints she also sells a mix of locally sourced woodwork, candles and pottery, as well as greeting cards and Fairtrade bags.
Romy admits she had planned to open last December but, as fate would have it, handover happened in March just as the eff ects of the pandemic began to be felt here.
“When I got told we were getting the keys I remember my husband and I being really quiet and we said nothing for about a week because we really didn’t know how we were feeling,” she says.
“We were thinking ‘wow, should we be doing this anymore?’.
“Then I just woke up one morning and said I was doing it because if I didn’t, I would always be left wondering.”
Romy is content with the decision and hopes that her coastal imagery is bringing some happiness and calm to those who buy them.
Her works have recently attracted more buyers from Melbourne, regional Victoria and as far afi eld as Hong Kong.
“I think nature has been a place for a lot of people to go home to,” Romy says.
“It’s a place where we all started from – we are part of nature just like the animals, trees, insects and everything else.
“I think what COVID has done is bring everyone down to the same level of appreciation and a lot of people want that in their homes now.
“I also think it’s more important now than ever before
to support local businesses in the community.”
Romy keeps her photographs as natural as possible and avoids tinkering with the brilliant colours conjured up by mother nature.
“Some people come in and ask ‘are these paintings?’ and when I say no they just can’t believe it,” she says.
“But the style of photography I think I have is quite a natural take on nature and what I find – I don’t like to alter the colour too much.
“I like to set the camera, take the shot and leave it as the eye caught it.
“Nature just performs beautifully on her own.”
Romy says her favourite spot to photograph on the Surf Coast is Point Addis and she also loves the mountainous backdrop provided by a trip further along the Great Ocean Road.
She often wakes to an early morning alarm – and the familiar squawk of cockatoos – as she sets out to chase another spectacular landscape at sunrise.
“If I know the swell has picked up, I do a little bit of homework the night before and have the camera all loaded and the lens ready,” she says.
“It’s all to do with timing and tides and weather patterns – sometimes it is not just about going out and taking a pretty picture and expecting it to happen.
“When you know there are big waves coming in there is nothing more exciting than getting out there because you can see all the other photographers are there too.
“We are all trying to find our little hidey spot and capture something that’s a bit different to everyone else.
“But what I do like down here is that we all are different and we respect each other’s work and style.”
It is clear that if she isn’t out chasing beautiful moments in nature, being in her shop space surrounded by visual reminders of her exploits is the next best thing.
“You sit here working away and then sometimes you look up and think ‘I remember that moment’,” she says, smiling.
“Mother nature puts on a fantastic show sometimes and it’s pretty awesome to be out there and be part of it.”
Romy’s shop can be found at Studio 2/7 Gilbert Street, Torquay, and is open seven days between 11am and 3pm. Order online at romyphotographer.com.au and follow @romyphotographer on Instagram.