Fiona Peters. Long time friend of SV, originally from the South Coast of Sydney, before moving to Lakes Entrance then the Surf Coast for a full time role with Quiksilver. Fiona is now based out of Bali most of the time (jealous) as a freelance photographer. With the endless supply of quality waves around Indo and exotic shooting locations - who can blame her. We asked Fiona a few questions about her favourite waves in Indo, story behind the female subjects in her work and recent surf injuries.
Hey Fiona! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions for us. Stoked to have you! Firstly, tell me – where abouts are you originally from and how was your interest in photography born?
I grew up the South Coast of Sydney, small coastal town called Berrara. I learnt to surf there, was always by the beach, my first love for the ocean began early in my childhood.
As a teenager my family moved south to Lakes Entrance, East Gippsland Victoria, unfortunately not best waves, however, I continued to surf in the cooler waters and not so fortunate waves.
I guess always being by the ocean my love for ocean scapes - landscape photography evolved as I began studying Photography at the age of 15.
We note you spend a lot of time in Indo. Where are you usually based and how did this all come about?
I’m mostly based in Bali. I took a leap of faith mid 2015, left my full time role with Quiksilver head office in Torquay, Victoria and pursued my full time freelance photographer career in Bali.
The last 4 and a half years I’ve been fortunate to base myself in Bali and Australia. Having Bali as the base is far more affordable while travelling and starting up a business. And indeed, the endless good waves on offer throughout Indonesia, truly blessed to have travelled to some of these incredible locations.
Favourite wave to surf in Indo?
G land! Hands down, since my first trip in 2011, my first wave a stand up barrel, I felt her energy and a bond was formed, it became an annual surf trip, however, last year my first year I didn’t go .. 8 years prior, maybe I need to do two trips this year to make up for it! ;)
We were shocked to hear about your recent surfing injury. How has the recovery been?
Ha ha which one?! Surfing for 21 years fracturing my nose late July last year was my first serious injury. It didn’t hurt, was actually such an epic wave, however it closed out (Temples - barrel on end section). I’m extremely grateful it wasn’t anything worse and lucky Australia is close to Bali, I flew to Perth a few days after for plastic surgery, cost a lot of money but now I’m happy with my choice.
And most recently, 20 stitches from Macaroni’s Reef - Mentawai Island. Now this was unlucky… first wave of a two week surf coaching trip, was in the ocean for 3 minutes, had only just arrived to Mentawai Islands (2 days travel each way). But sometimes life throws us challenges and it helps you to realise the simple privileges we have everyday we may take for granted, i.e. ability to walk :)
You specialise in luxury lifestyle photography, in particular with women as the main subject. Is the focus on female subjects part of empowering women in the surf industry or is there a bigger picture?
I didn’t set out to specialise in women, this evolved over the years. As women we’re so hard on ourselves, majority of marketing is women looking good, having to have this perfect body, hair, teeth, face, long legs, lean figure etc…
But we’re all beautiful in our own way, if we all looked the same then how would we know what was beautiful? It would be the norm to look exactly the same as every other female.
I help women to embrace their bodies, themselves, love them for how they are, beautiful inside and out.
Have you got any favourite female surfers or photographers that you draw inspiration from?
Bethany Hamilton! Seriously is there anything she can’t do? Her story is literally unstoppable, makes you look at your own life when we have self doubt and look at Bethany, what she’s achieved, what she’s doing today, we really do have limitless abilities, we only have to believe in ourselves and we CAN do it.
I recently spoke to a friend who said she felt intimidated to get out into the surf in a male dominated line-up. What’s your advice to others who may feel the same way?
I’ve never felt this at all. I guess being a surfer for so long, I’m confident paddling into a line up with men. Of course maybe if it’s a new break and I’m a little hesitant of a dodgy take off, I’d sit back, watch for awhile, feel the energy in the ocean, with the people, take your time, breathe and only take waves if you feel comfortable.
If you’re anxious or worrying it’s not a good space to be in. Mother Ocean can be very powerful and sometimes she feels you’re anxiety and perhaps it’s not the best to be in a wild, unpredictable ocean if you’re feeling this way.
In regards to a dominant male line up, take your time, use appropriate surf etiquette and take waves when it’s your turn.
Don’t feel intimated, if anything they’ll probably encourage you and maybe lead you into the best wave of your life and you’ll be paddling back out smiling ear to ear :)
What advice would you give to women starting out in the photography industry?
Find your niche. What do you love to photograph? What is your passion? How can you be unique with your work? Find ways to create a style so people can recognise your work and most importantly be authentic.
Best advice I find being a photographer, be a people person. Engage with your subject, chat beforehand, get to know your client, really listen to their wants and needs. Offer suggestions and when creating the magic check in with the client to make sure they’re happy with how the project is taking place.
What else do you have planned for 2020?
No more surf injuries! Ha ha
Seriously, based in Bali and coming back and forth with Australia. May be heading to Central America for the first time with my partner, he runs surf coaching retreats across the world, he’s offered for me to come along and with the recent drop in airline prices I may just have to!
We’ve also been discussing to be based back in Australia, East Coast, potentially southern Gold Coast. So this will be a new adventure. In saying that, our lives are very dynamic, constantly changing with the work and travel opportunities.
Oh and I’m also filming with a reality TV show, to raise money for Mental Health, this is something I’m connected with personally, which I’m sure many people these days know of someone or experience a form of mental health illness themselves.
Late 2019 they contacted me to be a cast member and I chose the charity I wished to raise money and awareness for, this will be an interesting adventure!
Thank you guys!