Surf tales of Tal
Award-winning Ocean Grove photographer Tal Lemmens has spent the last five years mastering the art of seascape photography.
Taking out 14th place in the Australian Photography Awards and scoring a top 50th spot in the International Photography Awards in 2019, the creative says it was his father who introduced him to swell.
Here’s what else he had to say about his work:
How does living on the Bellarine benefit your artistry?
Living close to the ocean has always been a large part of my life. I spent the early part of my photography career shooting parts of the southwest Victorian coastline before moving to Ocean Grove in 2017. Since moving, I’ve had many opportunities that simply don’t exist in rural communities. Being close to the Surf Coast has helped me to connect to many people who share a mutual love of the ocean.
Do you find photography to be a form of therapy for you?
Photography can be a cathartic experience for everyone. I find I often shoot photos as a way of managing day to day life. I personally use photography as a form of mindfulness – where I am present in the moment in a non-judgmental state. Being submerged in the sea means you have to pay the ocean undivided attention and respect – without doing this you can end up in some dicey situations.
Can you talk about the biggest challenge or challenges you face in seascape photography?
There are basic challenges like having the appropriate camera equipment to obtaining a photograph, to more complex challenges like being able to read weather and swell charts. Taking photos of surfers and waves often means placing yourself in harm’s way to get a photograph. I have been thrown on to hard rock reefs by waves, on one occasion smashing my protective water proof housing over my camera. I’ve had my camera ripped out of my hands by the power of the ocean which means this then becomes a volatile object in the water, thankfully never colliding with me. Much like surfers, ocean photographers have their fair share of beatings in the ocean. What’s the saying… no pain, no gain!
What equipment and editing programs do you use?
My photography is captured using a digital camera that goes inside a water proof housing. I use Photoshop for editing my images for basic enhancement and for proofing the colours for final printing. My images are printed by blindforest.com, a specialist fine art archival print lab in Geelong.
Where do you go to take photos? Any favourite spots?
Historically, a lot of surfers have disliked photographers at surf spots as there may be concern that photography will expose the locations. As a photographer, I agree with this testimony. This sometimes means I will be required to forfeit a photography session out of respect for locals who may be present – not everyone loves surf photos of themselves. There is a beauty about keeping some spots in this world secret.
What advice would you give to someone who’s wanting to get experimental behind the lens?
Photography is such an enjoyable experience and I encourage everyone to give it a go. I think the advice I tell most people is to get out and go take photos and don’t be afraid to fail. I encourage people to look at photos in surf magazines or other successful photographers who they aspire to and take notes on what they are doing well. The goal of my photography is to help people see what they cannot see!
Where can people find your work?
Onda Food House (Aireys Inlet)
Swell Café (Torquay)
MCG Signs (Torquay)
Surfcoast Wellness Rooms (Torquay)
Ocean Grind (Torquay)
Driftwood Café (Ocean Grove)
The Seeker Café (Geelong)