Let Me Sea - Tracy Naughton
Tracy Naughton is an artist and photographer originally from NZ but has called the Sunshine Coast home for over 15 years. Having fallen in love with the natural beauty of the coastal lifestyle Tracy has developed her own signature style well recognised amongst locals. She regularly holds exhibitions and loves to collaborate on all sorts of creative projects. Enjoy the full interview here.
Hey Tracy! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions for us. Stoked to have you! To kick things off, tell me – where abouts are you originally from and how was your interest in photography born?
Hey Michael, happy to be able to talk with you about my work! I’m originally from New Zealand. My interest in photography was born as I began to look for inspiration to paint and draw from. I was always creative from a young age, drawing and painting throughout school eventually beginning photography at High School.
How was the recent Noosa Surf Festival? Describe the vibe around town when this event is on. I bet it’s impossible to get a carpark haha.
The Noosa Surf Festival is always fun to shoot. The vibe is upbeat with many people re-uniting friends made at previous events its also full of anticipation for what the waves will be like and how they will surf in the comps. When the surf is good you can guarantee its hard to get a car park. I have fallen victim to the dreaded parking inspectors before - I usually rent a place to stay during the event as I live 30 mins from the action.
What was the swell forecast for the duration of the festival?
The cyclone Uesi hit just before the festival was due to begin. So that drew a lot of amazing surfers out to Noosa beforehand. It was almost like Cyclone Oma of the year before but it was bigger and the sweep was a lot stronger by all accounts. So it lasted about 2 days before it died off completely and they were forced to hold the competition away from first point where they found a good bank to work with.
What was it like watching and shooting so many pros during the fest?
I get a bit anxious to be honest, because I want to try and catch as many of the pros as I can but its tricky pinning people down as I prefer shooting the free surfing and there a potential 5 or 6 spots they can surf at, its a bit of luck a bit of organising but when it all comes together it is so worth it.
Did you have a favourite surfer during this time?
Oh wow, it was a bit different this year as a lot of my favourite surfers couldn’t make it for one reason or another! I have always loved capturing Honolua Blomfield, but also a lot of the young girls coming up are so amazing Sophia Culhane, Kelis Kaleopaa, and Haley Otto were on fire! Local girl Emily Lethbridge absolutely blew everyone away during the cyclone beforehand killing it on these massive waves on her longboard what a legend!
The surfing dogs seemed like a huge fan favourite haha. Is this the first year this been run? How did this idea come about?
The surfing dogs is always the most popular event, I have no idea why! This isn’t the first time its been run - its a long standing tradition - I’m not too sure how it started - I remember Doctor Harry coming one year. I think its because there are obviously so many dog lovers out there and its a bit unique and a fun event everyone can relate to it.
Tell us about your recent ‘She To Sea’ event.
She to Sea came about 3 years ago when I wanted to create a network of all female artists photographers and designers to showcase their work during the Noosa Surf Festival. It is about creative women coming together to support and encourage each other in the creative surf industry. Its definitely not about being anti men - more empowering women to be confident in their endeavours. We have been so lucky to have such a positive reaction to our event people have told us its their favourite night of the festival which is a huge compliment.
We’re huge fans of your art as well as your photography. How long have you been painting for?
Oh thank you so much! I have been drawing since I was little and always studied it throughout school but started to develop my skills more seriously around 6 or 7 years ago. I still have a lot to learn and want to continue improving and evolving with style and technique. If you’re a creative person I guess you always want to keep trying new things.
Is your photography inspiration for your artwork? Or vice versa.
Yes photography was initially for me to find inspiration to create art from, but it took on a life of its own once I started to get better at 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?
Having just recently started shooting from the water I completely understand! It is actually intimidating and you hear a lot of stories of guys snaking girls in the lineup and I have found a few who don’t seem happy for me to be out there.
Though I also feel like there are more and more girls getting out in the water and there are plenty of guys who are more than happy for the girls to be there. My advice is if you do feel intimated head out with a friend or even a bunch of girls if you can safety in numbers!
What advice would you give to women starting out in the photography industry?
Try to find your own thing, something that makes your work different to anyone else’s, there is a point where there are only so many things to shoot but try and find that point of difference, whether it be in your editing style or your shooting style.
Have you got any favourite female surfers or photographers that you draw inspiration from?
So many female surfers that are so inspiring, Karina Rozunko, Lola Mignot, Roisin Coraline, and photographers, Cait Miers, Hannah Prewitt, Amy Pearl, Lotta & The Waves
What else do you have planned for 2020?
To continue to grow in my business, improve my art skills, to work with empowering people and to empower people in return.
Also hopefully, coronavirus permitting, doing bucket list trip to Canada!
Thanks so much Tracy.