William Aliotti, shot by me for Monster back end 2014.

This Is Me…

Most websites* have an About Me post, especially when said site is for someone who does something creative for a living.

I take photos, write gibberish and film stuff. Generally surfing related.

So. I guess you could call me a creative. Not that I ever would. And I don’t produce content. I abhor that word as it reduces artistic visions and hard work to something that’s only there to generate clicks and stats. I think of myself as more of a tradesman using the correct tools to do a job. An illustrator as opposed to an artist. And films look best on a cinema screen and photos in a print mag. Old school … I know.

I do what I do because I enjoy it. And after many years of sweating at various ridiculous temp jobs including:

  • Prawn cocktail production line operative. And yes I did leave in the deeply weird flash frozen deep sea oddities I was supposed to remove from the frozen prawns before shovelling them into a hopper.
  • Pine furniture waxer/delivery guy. I was very sleepy for a long time due to toluene I was breathing in from the pine wax. I did drop off a bookcase at the late Terry Pratchett’s cottage, so that’s a life win right there, and yes he was lovely and signed my battered copy of The Colour of Magic which is one of my most treasured belongings.
  • Deep freeze order picker. Actually quite fun. Lots of breaks.
  • Bread factory cleaner. Too long a story but suffice to say the only job I’ve walked out on. But I did use to kind of waterski behind the cleaning droid thing. That was fun.
  • Blister pack production line. £3 an hour, 12-hour night shift mind melter.
  • McDonalds. From sixth form to post uni. Mainly in the Bath store. Free food and always a great company to work for. Never pop a fresh 350 degree nugget in your gob just as a manager comes around the corner wanting to talk to you. Burny throat time.
  • Large print works supplies manager. Very useful for bits and bobs in making my first water housings. Not sure whether me borrowing the odd thing was responsible for it going out of biz.
  • Tesco warehouse night-shift picker. Absolutely awesome job. Faster you worked the more you got paid. I did 12-hour night shifts for seven weeks without a day off once. This set me up before going around the world with Tim Nunn in ’96. I did sleep from 6am Friday to 2am Sunday when I finished the contract I was so exhausted. Also free chocolate. If you “accidentally” broke a box if it.
  • Avon rubber engine mount tester. Oh-so-dull.
  • Brewery production line bottle pallet mover bloke. Never regained a love of lager after that. Craft ale/prosecco/G&Ts all the way.
  • Sydney Olympic site environmental technician. 12-hour day shifts dodging diggers and earth levellers while getting a brutal shorts and steel toe caps work boot tan. 38C heat. I was hunting asbestos…
  • Antique stripper. Read in to that what you will.

I just about make a living doing what I love. Sure all these jobs, whilst fun, were a way to make ends meet to buy gear and more importantly air fares. As being a surf photog is all about experience. The more you shoot and the more places you go the more rounded your vision when it comes to new work.

It’s this love of travel and appreciation of the all-rounder surf photography greats of my generation like Grambeau, Morris, Shield, Flindt that I ended up here. DC Green, Derek Rielly and PJ O’Rourke were big influences writing wise. I edit Carve Surfing magazine in the UK (yes we still do eight print issues a year) and do shoots for clients like O’Neill, Monster, Fourth Surfboards and C-Skins to name a few. My images have appeared in the Observer, the Times, Daily Mail, a bunch of books, most surf mags and more.

I write words, sometimes in the correct order, not always grammatically spot on (grammar rules aren’t rules, they’re suggestions, so feel free to blow them off if it doesn’t suit what you are trying to say … I wouldn’t know a dangling participle if it bit me on the arse (or ass if you is an Americans)) which have appeared all over the shop.

Oli Adams, Ireland, shot for Carve Surfing Magazine.

As for a bio? Well. I gestated in my biological mother in a house perched on the cliff at Watchet in Somerset. So sea air is in my veins. Her family name also has a proud maritime tradition, which seeing as the house is in sight of the harbour makes sense. From there I was adopted and dragged to inland Somerset as a baby. I made my way back to the ocean whenever possible and first rode waves in an inflatable canoe with my brother aged seven at Port Eynon on the Gower.

From there on I did more growing up and thanks to older friends with cars was in the brine regularly from the age of 15. Did a Geology degree in Aberystwyth, chosen because, whilst inconsistent, there’s epic surf in the town and you can see the ocean from the university. It was here I learnt the dark arts of the darkroom and got my first SLR: a Zenit 12XP for £22 from the junk shop below my condemned student house. The camera with which I got my first image published in the national magazine press.

From there on I was meant to do a PhD studying micro-continental collision zones in Greenland but I went around the world for a year surfing and forgot to go back. Turns out people at magazines gave you money for decent pictures and whilst I wasn’t making bank I was making enough for a light bulb to go that there was something in this if I kept progressing.

So I did. The temping/travelling era stopped when I got the job at Surf Europe magazine (RIP). Replacing the inspirational Derek Rielly as the editor as he’d swanned off back to Australia. Which was all kinds of fitting as it was Derek that encouraged me to write more and taught me the valuable skill of harsh but necessary photo editing.

I spent three happy years in Hossegor with Archie, Quirin, Iker and co running the joint working with a global team before home beckoned. I did my own magazine, Slide, for a couple of years before the big crash in 2008 rendered it one of the first mags to go bust. I guess it was better that way than being killed by the internet. I’ve been editor of Carve since 2010, I think, it’s been a while now anyway and folk seem to like what we do. Which is nice.

In 2016 I passed my UAV exams, we prefer not to use the word drone, but I rarely use it as I object to them buzzing over line-ups unless it’s just the guys you’re shooting out. But it is a whole new world of image making that I’m excited about. Always shitting it when it’s in the air though as it’s a flying lump of £1000 over an ocean which isn’t its natural habitat.

It’s now 2018, there’s been lots of changes in the industry but the internet it turns out isn’t the saviour of publishing (thanks for turning off the taps to publisher and brand websites Facebook) and working for an actual print magazine, one of the few surviving and thriving in the world, is still a good place to be.

I’m looking forward to shooting more, writing more, editing more Carves and filming more like the guff below.

Filmed, edited and directed by me. Drone/water footage Fionn Rogers.

So. That’s me… A Somerset bumpkin with a camera that likes being in the sea.

  • I use Medium as my blog and default website now. Mainly because it’s so flipping easy to use, looks sweet on mobile and I don’t need to faff with Wordpress or anything else.
  • PS: I’ve also now edited a book, Amazing Waves, a rather special coffee table book featuring mind melting shots of ocean going rollers.
  • PPS: Just got a new Sony A7RIII and have finally gone fully Sony, no Canon gear left after 20 years in the Canon camp. I heart it big time. 42Mp, 10FPS and sick 4K video and doesn’t break my old, worn out shoulders. No one ever tells you that a life of surf photography will blow your shoulders and knees…
  • If you want more you can follow me on Twitter, I don’t do Insty or FB personally (but do the carvemag accounts) and have no idea how Snapchat works…
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