Struggle for equality for women in surfing reaches new milestone

Today the World Surf League announced it would be awarding equal pay to women and men for every WSL event from 2019 and beyond. Firstly, this is a great moment for women in surfing and should be applauded. Actions speak louder than words and today, the World Surf League is taking a stand on equality. 

As a resident of the hotbed of surfing talent, Snapper Rocks, I have witnessed the frontline of female surfing development up close and in person over a number of years. For me personally, the fight for equality isn’t just a story on the internet. It’s real people that are part of our community, and the physical, emotional and mental toll of this ongoing struggle has left more bodies on the highway of dreams than the success stories we see.

I have talked to an angry father when his daughter was declined from the local sporting excellence programme in a Government  funded school, which at the time had allocated 4 spots out of 32 to females for surfing. I have seen the distress on a mother’s face as she told me about the debt she is going into in order to buy a flight for her daughter to the next WQS event because her sponsorship money was inadequate, despite her being ranked inside the top five in the QS World Rankings and appearing well supported by a big-name sponsor. I have seen two former female world surfing champions working in Coles and Bunnings (that’s Aussie for Walmart) to support themselves during and after their surfing careers. I have watched a former WCT competitor break down in the arms of her friend and fellow competitor in the athlete’s toilet block after a late season loss which meant she wouldn’t be able to qualify back onto the world tour and her entire year of training and money spent suddenly disappeared into redundancy. Hell, I consoled my friend after she missed out on the world tour by a single spot, her hand cut up and bloodied from punching her surfboard into pieces after the loss that cemented that fate. And these aren’t ‘no-name’ surfers. Four share 600k followers on Instagram between them and this is only touching the surface of experiences I have witnessed and shared as a female in the surf community.

The sacrifice, dedication and commitment shown by women in surfing is real. It was real when Rell Sunn raced down the face of a giant bomb at Makaha. It was real when Pauline Menczer traded Levi jeans for money to fund her world tour ambitions. It was real when Silvana Lima made a comeback onto the world stage after a decade and how many knee surgeries. And it is real every single day I witness an army of females young and old, board under arm, paddling out at the rock, some with world tour aspirations, others, just trying to get that one wave.

To recognise and respect the struggle that has passed, and to celebrate a hopeful future, please enjoy this small selection of images of some powerful, strong young women I have had the honour of photographing. This is only a small group of the thousands of young women who are making a difference every day. Many from Asia, Africa and Europe are fighting every day and are not adequately represented here, but whose struggles are not forgotten or diminished.   

Prize money will now be equal. The elephant in the room is endorsement money. But for today, we celebrate a milestone representing the progression to a future of equality.

 

 

 

Global surf media covers Canggu Chaos

Always thankful for the support of our surf media family in bringing to light the issues impacting our world.

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I got the text message from a close friend around 3pm. Happily nestled up at Uluwatu, I almost couldn’t believe what I was reading.

“You won’t believe what I’m seeing. They are destroying Canggu. Come. Now.”

Intrigued, but somewhat non-fussed, having watched Canggu already develop from an idyllic rice paddy paradise to urban-hipster scene, I hesitantly jumped on my moto for the hour ride on the chaotic Balinese roads to see what was going on.

Meeting up first with my friend in the Canggu satellite suburb of Berawa, I smirkingly asked, “So…what’s going on?” Half expecting some silly answer like Canggu had run out of Almond Milk or rainbow coloured yoga pants were out of stock and the hipsters and yogis were causing a scene, I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to hear or witness.

Click here to read the full story

Shark Fishing in Indonesia - A complex story

There couldn't be a greater chasm in lifestyle differences between Bali and Lombok, despite it being only a 25 minute plane ride apart. Joining Madison Stewart on her Australian Geographic documentary, I witnessed a complex story of consumerism, poverty and environmental destruction. There seems to be no right and wrong because the issue is not black and white. We joined a shark fishing boat, Pratama, named after the first son of our captain Odi and took to sea. We witnessed sharks being finned in large quantities on land. We were the first foreign visitors to our captains tiny fishing island village that houses 1400 people, a place of dilapidated shacks, but beautifully welcoming people. Odi opened his simple home to us and his family graciously fed us more than I can imagine they would ever eat. What was apparent is that systematic and entrenched poverty leaves those affected with little freedom and few choices. Freedom of choice should be a human right, but in reality it manifests as a privilege for what is actually a minority of humans on Earth. 

I am looking forward to sharing more personal images at a later date as a larger collection of my developing understanding and experiences in Indonesia.

Thanks to the amazing team Madison Stewart, Perrin James, Sean Samer, Kristy Lee Hillas, Mark Hwang and Fiona Lee.

Follow Madison Stewart on Instagram @sharkgirlmadison to stay tuned to the story.

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Surf Salon - The Walls Art Space and Maverick

Art exhibitions are never a gathering of like-minds. Diverse thought, progressive sentiments and culture shakeups are just a small part of the happenings when people walk a path sans rules. I always enjoy going to exhibitions because I always seem to walk away with something new to think about, and feel a sense of encouragement and courage at the bravery of thought and action taken by artists around me.

Surf culture is something I am obviously familiar with, but I must admit, the ‘Hollywood’ nature of the surf town I live in can leave me feeling like a horse with blinkers on. The act of surfing is more than training for the tour, getting photos for sponsors and buying a house with the proceeds. I am excited to explore surfing, community and culture in more depth over the next years as I try to develop my understanding of the world around me!

Thankyou to Rebecca Ross at The Walls and Byron Coathup at Maverick, for including me as an artist in the inaugural Surf Salon exhibition, and giving us the space and freedom to pursue our creative endeavours!

Photos by Shenna Heard.

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United Nations and NOAA 6th International Marine Debris Conference

It was an honour and privilege to be an invited artist for the exhibition “Matters of the Ocean” as part of the UN Environment and NOAA 6th International Marine Debris Conference presented by the Johnson Ohana Foundation.

Every year, 1.4 billion pounds of trash and other pollutants ends up in our oceans. According to the NOAA:

Natural processes and human activities along the coastlines and far inland affect the health of our ocean. One of the biggest sources is called nonpoint source pollution, which occurs as a result of runoff. Nonpoint source pollution includes many small sources, like septic tanks, cars, trucks, and boats, plus larger sources, such as farms, livestock ranches, and timber harvest areas.

Trash and pollution is an undeniable source of concern for global communities. In developing nations, it stares people directly in the face as many of these places struggle with waste management systems, and the natural environment becomes the default waste outlet. Developed nations with functional waste management systems are also facing a trash crisis, because as we are seeing, we are all an interconnected species on this planet. Ghost nets from fishing vessels in Asia can wash up on Australian land, devastating local animals. Likewise, a plastic bottle thrown into the sea by a person in Australia can just as easily end up on the shores of Asia.

Those nations in positions to help beyond their own borders, I am convinced, must do so. As an Australian, as an artist and as a surfer, I enjoy the privilege of exploration and discovery of lands beyond my own. My photography captures many worlds. The beauty of the ocean as well as the chaos. I see an important role for artists in conveying a larger message that covers both the positives and negatives in the world around us. Total negativity can lead to despair and apathy. Total positivity can lead to complacency and inaction. I believe understanding the interconnectedness of our world will play a vital role in addressing and attempting to solve many of the crisis facing our planet, with trash being only the tip of the iceberg.

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Fineprintco supports Fran Miller at UN and NOAA Exhibition

Thankyou to FINEPRINT co for supporting my participation in 'Matters of the Ocean' exhibition at the United Nations and NOAA 6th International Marine Debris Conference. An overlooked part of many photographers and artist careers are the people behind the scenes willing to financially support the development of art. I am very appreciative for the ongoing support of FINEPRINT co in photographic endeavours.

Exhibition Sea Sickkk Video Wrap

 

Video wrap up of an amazing night. Engaging with community is a founding belief of mine and I am so thankful to everyone who turned up to share in the evening.

Thankyou to Sustainable Surf Collab, Panamuna Project, Tracks Magazine, Surfrider Foundation and Balter Beer for the support.

Video by Izzy Hobbs for SSC.

Celebration of Australian Women in Surf Gala 2017

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It was a pleasure to attend the Sally Fitzgibbons Foundation Celebration of Australian Women in Surf at the Novotel Manly Pacific over the weekend.

Listening to all the stories from female surfing greats like Pam Burridge and Layne Beachley is a never ending source of inspiration as well as learning opportunity. So many of these women fought external as well as internal battles that have shaped the landscape for other women in surfing to be able to have the careers we have to today, as well as for females in general to be treated equally in the water at any level of surfing from social to professional level.

Thank you to Canon Australia for having me. It is a pleasure to be part of group that so strongly supports women in surfing.

Burleigh Brewing BLA 2017

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What an incredible evening of fun at the Brewing Local Artists 2017 art exhibition at the Burleigh Brewing taphouse. Getting involved with the local artist community is one of my biggest passions. Seeing so many cool different art styles and getting to show off my own photography is always such an honour. My favourite artists on the evening were Tamara Armstrong and Go Suga, two distinctly different art styles, but each so captivating.

I chose to show surf images taken in ambient light, after sunset from the Gold Coast. It is always a challenge shooting in low light. Some of the exposures from that evening were over 2 seconds, which is a phenomenal challenge in a moving body of water and capturing a moving subject (the surfer).

Thanks to Burleigh Brewing for having me on the evening and for taking the time to support our arts community.

Noosa Surf Film Festival 2017 / Canon Surf Photo Workshops

I have never formally taught anyone how to take a surf photo, so it was with nervous excitement that I lead two surf photography workshops with Canon Australia in conjunction with the Noosa Surf Film Festival.

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My camera feels like an extension of my arm, so showing people the ropes ended up coming quite naturally to me. It was such a pleasure meeting the diverse group of surf and camera enthusiasts. It goes to show that surfing and photography are such inclusive pastimes. I was so excited to see the enthusiasm from young and old in learning new skills and having the opportunity to try all of Canon’s latest camera gear!

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The film festival is such a highlight for Noosa. With so many awesome events including arts and music at the Thomas Surfboards factory, surfboard shaping with Andrew Warhurst, and of course the film screenings including our feature Women In Surf Series, there is no better reason to put Noosa in the calendar every October!

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Canon - Women in Surf

Super excited to share a piece of my story of women in surf, alongside Sally Fitzgibbons , Brooke Farris, Belinda Baggs and Macy Callaghan. Thank you so much to Canon Australia for making this possible!

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE VIDEO and see more of the stories!

Photo by Ed Sloane // Canon Australia

Behind the shoot of "MOOD"

"... When I’m looking to create something, I do already have an idea of how long the edit is going to be, and I tend not to go over that. I think it’s actually helpful to creativity as it helps focus the direction, and puts a premium on quality too."

Thanks to Handsome Citizens for this behind the shoot interview with myself, Hallie Rohr, Roisin Carolan and Ivy Thomas.

To read the full interview CLICK HERE