Our next interview is with our good friend Brydie Watson. Brydes is an all time legend, having been a regular contributor to SV for years - including a spread inside Issue 3. We asked Brydes a few questions about life in Melbourne, recent road trip to South Aus, her experience at Kangaroo Island after the bushfires and also about women's surf culture. A great read.
Hey Brydes! Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. Great to catch up again so we can hear all about your recent travels. Firstly, tell me – where abouts are you originally from and how did you first get into photography?
Hey guys! Sooo good to be chatting with you both again :)
I was born in Sydney but raised in Brisbane. My parents bought a holiday house in Byron Bay back in 2011/2012 which we all eventually ended up moving into full time. When I first moved permanently to Byron in 2014 I started my own little vintage label called Roam Vintage and Retro which I ran for a few years. Roam was what lead me to the wonderful world of photography!
Your recent South Aus trip looked epic – give us the full low down i.e. how far into SA did you get, who went, how long was it, how was the surf etc.
It was the best thing ever! So, my two girl friends and I (Rach Fleming and Kennedy Cusato) packed up my cruiser and set off for a month. Kenny flew over from Cali and met Rach in Sydney, they drove down and met me in Melbs and then we took off. We took the scenic route and started the trip off down in Lorne/great ocean road before heading into SA. We pretty much covered as much coast as we could - we went everywhere from Robe to Second Valley, Kangaroo Island and we covered both the Eyere peninsula and the Yorke Peninsula. Cactus was our furthest point (which was also all of our favourite spot). The first week the weather was freezing and waves weren’t great to be honest. We surfed some nice clean baby waves at Vivonne Bay on Kangaroo Island though which was cool! And we were super lucky to score four days of perfect waves at Cactus. Seriously best thing ever!
You would’ve seen some seriously ravaged communities from the bushfires. What was it like witnessing this first-hand?
Honestly the only fire affected area we visited was Kangaroo Island. Half of the Island was closed as it had been so badly burnt, and the Army was over there helping out. The whole army was actually at our campsite which was pretty cool to meet some of them. We had some really heartbreaking experiences with wildlife which was really hard to witness obviously. Having said this we were fortunate enough to meet some lovely locals - the legends that own Kangaroo Island Brewery actually. These people were some of the friendliest, kind-hearted and positive people we had all ever met. Hearing their stories about the fires and themselves volunteering were truly amazing. The whole experience would have been unimaginable to go through and yet they were all full of high spirits and were just grateful for what they had. It was beautiful to see the way the whole KI community had come together in such a hard time. Big love to KI, I really recommend visiting! One of my favourite places in AUS <3
How was life living and working in Melbourne?
Melbourne was the best thing ever too! Absolutely loved it. As a young person it’s a great city to live in, super easy to get around and lots happening. I was working and studying though so I didn’t have much time or any money to shoot which is a big reason why I have come back up north. Obvs the weather and lack of beach was a big no no for me too haha.
Are you stoked to be back living in sunny Byron Bay?
Yep! It was super sad to leave Melbs and my lovely little life there, but I’m stoked to be back home with my fam in the warmth. I’ve been surfing twice a day every day and loving it! (I’m still a bit of a beginner so The Pass is my dream wave haha.)
Black and white imagery is predominately your vibe, how did this come about? And is it something you try to stick to?
Yep sure is. I’m not sure really - I just love it. I love how clean it is. It was definitely when I started shooting more digital and I found the world of post-production and editing so I started playing around with it. I love how you can manipulate an image and make it look so different to the original shot - it’s really cool. Sometimes I will be on a really quick shoot with a friend - and I think when we wrap quickly, a lot of the time they’re probably thinking like gee those pics will be shit she hardly did anything haha, and then when I edit them (especially black and white) people are always amazed on how they turn out.
I’m super weird with colour too - I’m a colourful person in real life and love wearing bright colours and all that but when it comes to photography I HATE shooting green and yellow especially haha, so I tend to just edit into back and white. I struggle with this dilemma though because I always am torn about having my insta all black and white - I know it would help for clients to see I do shoot in colour too, but I just love having my insta all black and white and clean haha. Constant battle.
What are you shooting with at the moment? (Photo and video).
So have a few projects at the moment. My dear friend Alix (Alix McKenzie) and I are starting a wedding photography business here in Bryon - so I have a lot of wedding style/editorial shoots planned in the next few weeks to get some more content for our launch. I also am waiting to get 3 rolls of super 8 back from South Aus. About a year ago when I planned the SA trip, I wards listening to one of my favourite songs by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and I just had a vision for a video from South Aus. So we shot three rolls on the trip which I will make into about a 5-6 min recap video. SO excited!
I’ve noticed you’re in the process of launching Alby Weddings – can you give us a little more info on this?
Yep! So as just mentioned Al and I are about to launch Alby Weddings. We will be a wedding and engagement/elopement photography company based in Byron Bay - but serving all areas. This is something I am sooo excited about. Al and I have different shooting styles, but we compliment each other and are hoping we can bring an artistic and candid approach to weddings and really shake up the industry! Everyone go follow @albyweddings ! Launching in a few months.
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?
Oh 100%. As mentioned earlier I am still a beginner and I really struggle with intimidation in the surf industry. It’s funny for such an amazing industry with so many happy, friendly and welcoming people I do agree that there is still such a ’scene’ amongst it and sometimes for beginners (especially girls) it can be super intimidating going out there. I lived in Byron for 4 years and never learnt to surf because of this. It took moving to Melbourne for me to start because there was no one out and there wasn’t really a surf scene to be intimidated by. Now that I’ve moved back and I have gotten so much better, I finally just don’t care and am going out as much as I can. At the end of the day I want to make surfing a part of my everyday life because it makes me feel so happy and healthy so I’m going to. Sometimes I get embarrassed when I fuck up a wave and there are a billion people at the pass watching but to be honest 99% of them I will probably never see again and also, who cares! My advice is just do your thing girl, have a laugh and get out there. Girls can do anything and also who runs the world? Girls! (Bit of Beyonce for ya).
Have you got any favourite female surfers or photographers that you draw inspiration from?
Ahh all my girls/besties I love and get so much inspiration from - Ivy Thomas, Lola Mignot, Karina Rozunko, RORO!!!, Rach, Kenny all of them inspire me so much and made me fall in love with surfing. They all shred and always have the biggest smiles on their faces. I really look up to Cait Miers too changing the surf photography industry and inspiring so many girls to do their thing! <3
What advice would you give to women starting out in the photography industry?
Ummm, just shoot what you love! It’s a fab industry but it also can be harsh sometimes so make sure you’re doing you! Know your boundaries and don’t overproduce and work your ass off for clients who aren’t giving the love back. And have fun with it! Be creative and just do you.
What’s planned for 2020?
Launch Alby, a few overseas trips hopefully (USA and Japan), visit Melbs heaps, make $$$, shoot heaps and surf of course!
Thanks Brydes, hopefully get that beer soon! Haha.
Seriously! Blame me for that I am all over the place. My round haha.