2019 PHOTO COMP WINNER: Meet the winner of the Eat Your Water 'LIFESTYLE' category - Dom Stuart. Originally from the East Coast of England, Dom is never without a camera in hand. After falling in love with Australia and surf culture during his travels in 2014, he moved his life over to the Sunny Coast of Aus - and who can blame him? He's a huge talent and an absolute frother with a great take on life. If you're keen on reading up on the 'Big Wednesday' mega swell that hit Uluwatu - this interview is for you.
Hey Dom! Congrats on taking home the chocolates in this years Photo Comp. The Lifestyle category is always so diverse, making it a difficult category to shortlist. What were the vibes and feelings behind this shot at Ulus?
Again…Thanks so much! The talent pool from around the world is so damn high I Honestly can’t believe I won. So Stoked!
This shot was simple. Pretty sure this was on the day or the day after the Mega Swell or Big Wednesday whatever you want to call it. During sundown beers on a rooftop with everyone watching in awe as the few brave enough to venture out caught some of the most ridiculous waves I will probably ever witness.
Of course I’d been up since 5am, sat at a good vantage point with a long lens and a drone shooting all day, this shot is simply everyone on the wind down from an epic day of waves.
What gear did you use when capturing this image?
It would have been my trusty Nikon D810 (outdated now, any connections at Nikon reading? haha).
Pretty Sure it was on my 35mm or possibly the 24-70 beast!
Do you spend much time in Indo or was this a once off trip? Do you have any other trips planned?
This was actually my first ever trip to Indo! It was a last-minute trip with my best mate.
We had talked about a trip for a while but as usual I'd set nothing in stone, he booked…I hadn’t.
Q: “There will be waves I can surf yeah?”
A: “For sure, it will be mellow as!"
I booked on Sunday and flew on Wednesday, a 2-month trip I will never regret. We were booked on the same flight, but got separated due to a ticketing error… I arrived in Denpasar a few hours after Tom and being the legend he is, he had organised a driver for me. (Yes…My name is Dom and my best mates called Tom).
Being the funny c*nt he is, I arrive to a sign saying “Dom is stupid” being held up by a smiling Indonesian dude. Start the trip as you mean to go on...
After a couple of days of getting accommodation sorted, buying a board, I’m slap bang in the middle of one of the biggest swells to ever hit Uluwatu.
Naturally I was never without a camera, but I was in fact without my full kit, with the swell promising more and more, a 4-hour return scooter rider to buy a long lens from a random Russian dude was on the cards.
Unfortunately, no more Indo trips in the works for me yet… but I’ll be back for sure.
How big was it that day at Ulus? Did you get out there?
Let’s put it this way, it was big enough to keep all but one person out of the Ocean, and he had a ski for Tow ins and recovery. Even the Ski had some hairy moments!
Nicknamed Big Wednesday/Mega Swell. The same swell that sent the boat over the falls at Nias... So it’s safe to say I didn’t venture out 😂
I think in the end there were actually 2 or 3 who paddled out, but for the giant sets in the morning, just one man and his ski!
As a relatively new surfer crossing over from the world of BMX… I’d like to say how big it was but I know all you lifetime surfers out there somehow measure a part of the wave that doesn’t seem exist and claim a 10ft wave is only 4ft.
I’ll include a photo of the size, up to you if you want to publish it! Haha
Here’s a wide shot from one of the bigger sets…I did a quick Clone of Eloy Lorenzo to show the scale of these things! 5X his height and he’s not even at the bottom of it!
Tell us a little bit about your background. Where are you from and how did you get into photography?
I’m from the East Coast of England and currently in the process of being able to say I’m from the east coast of Australia.
I got into photography at an early age, my parents cycled around the world back in the 70’s before I came along and ruined everything. I would always look at the 100’s of negatives from their journeys and be stoked on it!
I started shooting photos and videos of mates riding BMX growing up, I’d say I probably had a film camera from the age of 10?
I quickly learned that being in the background and capturing things as they happen naturally was the best way to shoot and that kinda stuck with me.
As soon as I started travelling around Australia in 2014 and fell in love with surfing, I got some fibreglass, built myself a camera housing, jumped right in and haven’t looked back.
Have you won (or entered) any other photo competitions before? How do you rate the talent in the Surf Visuals Photo Comp?
I don’t think I’ve ever entered any competition ever, especially not where my work gets judged! So the first contest entered and I won… good track record, maybe I should do the lotto one time haha.
The talent is ridiculous. Any form of art, photography especially, has such a high standard these days. So many people are so damn good at what they do these days and Surf Visuals has some kind of magic to attract the best of the best! I honestly can’t believe that I even made it to the finals let alone came away with a win!
How are you planning on spending the prize money? (Sorry about the weak AUD haha).
Hahah, it’s the weak Pound Sterling letting me down, don’t worry on your AUD! Honestly I’d love to say that it’s going to fund something sick but it will probably go towards living costs (I’m trying to not live in a van for once this rent thing people do is weird).
Orrrr maybe put it towards a new board…haha. hmmmmm…
What’s in store for 2020 for Dom Stuart?
2020 is a big one! Firstly, I will be turning the big 3.0 so I’m feeling old somehow!
I'm currently living in the Sunny Coast and I JUST applied for my student visa for Aus (literally sent off the paperwork just before writing this).
I’m going to be studying carpentry for the next 2 years to allow me to continue living here. It’s a pretty great spot.
Along with study comes large study bills so a new full-time job is required… not my style but here’s to trying new things...
On top that, I’ve been living in vans on and off for almost 10 years now and I’m finally going to move into a house and be some-what of a grown up!
Between all of that boring life stuff, I just have to find some time to shoot new work to put on my new print store (shameless plug), try and stay healthy and catch some waves.