Firstly, can you start with a little bit about yourself?
I am a Luxury, Lifestyle Photographer, raised on the South Coast of NSW, south of Sydney. I learned to surf, and my love for the ocean began as a child, always playing by the sea, as the town we lived was 500 people. Everyone surfed! My family then moved to Victoria when I was 14. I continued to surf even in the colder climate, throughout winter and from the age of 17 until 30 I moved to many locations on the East Coast of Australia, Canada, Bali and now I’ve landed in Yallingup, Western Australia.
My family would refer to me as a ‘gypsy’ But I loved seeing different places, meeting new people, seeing the world, I feel people become wiser when you travel, when you learn different cultures, you grow respect for others and learn patience.
How do you think being a surfer influences your photography?
I’m drawn to the ocean, having grown up with a beautiful, clean, small population beach as my backyard, I find myself seeking peace and meditation when I visit the sea, either surfing, walking along the sand, or merely watching at a lookout. Therefore with my work, you can see the majority of it is ocean-based. I shoot many genres; however, my passion for work, is the ocean. Visiting as many different coastlines as I can, capturing pastel skies against the ocean colours and the nature in between, I find it magical. Sometimes I’ll shoot in the ocean with my water housing using the dome. I love the blurred water foreground perspective; it gives a sense of calm, peace, almost dreamlike.
Can you give a breakdown of the equipment you use to create your images?
I shoot with Canon 5D Mark IV, a variety of Canon lenses, Aqua-tech water housing, dome and ports. Very rarely I will use Hoya filters.
What would be your favourite lens and why?
Hhmm.. this is a difficult one, as I use my lenses equally. Perhaps the 50mm 1.2 as it has the most significant depth of field, your subject is apparent in focus, and the background is very soft. And when studying photography at University, one of my teachers, explained the 50mm was the closest to our eye and having a fixed lens allows you to move to composition the subject rather than using a zoom.
What inspired you to capture the ocean and what continues to motivate you?
I was raised by the ocean, always in the sea and being a surfer I guess it’s only natural for me to photograph my passion and love for the sea.
Have you ever had an experience in the ocean that scared you?
When I was 15 surfing Lakes Entrance bar (Victoria) - this is a man made an entrance, a large boat moves the sand each day as sand piles up, and boats are unable to enter in and out. It was about 6ft swell, surfing with my sister, boyfriend and friends. My leg rope came undone when I went off a wave. My board when straight into the entrance as the tide was coming in and the water was moving very fast. The board went streaming through into the Lake system, a fishing boat picked it up and gave back to me later. I was quickly being pulled into the break wall divider (entrance to extensive lake system). The power of the water was incredible. Fortunately, my boyfriend managed to rescue me in time before I entered the lake system barrier, as I would have been washed down hundreds of metres like my board did in a few seconds!
Can you tell me about any crazy encounters with marine life?
No crazy encounters and I hope to keep it this way!!
Where is your favourite travel destination to shoot?
I love shooting Indonesia; there’s thousands of islands to explore and being a surfer, Indonesia would undoubtedly have some of the best waves in the world. I’m drawn to this neighbouring country, and I know I’ll explore more of the Archipelago throughout my life.
However, after driving from Victoria to Western Australia and spending my birthday in Esperance, WA . This was a mind-blowing location, I feel like this is my new favourite place to photograph, and I look forward to visiting again after winter.
Is there somewhere you would love to shoot but haven’t had the chance yet?
Tahiti! The Philippines! I’m waiting for my work to lead me here, as previous bucket list destinations I was invited for photography purposes, I have faith, it’ll happen ;)
Among all your work what is your most memorable capture?
Wow, I don’t know about this one. Someone had asked me before if I had to choose my most favourite image I’ve captured, what is it..? I have no idea! Even when I’m featured on blogs, I ask which shots they’d like to share, as it’s hard to choose! My experience visiting the Mentawai Islands in Indonesia was unique.
This was a huge bucket list location for me. As a surfer, I always dreamed of surfing here. It can be an expensive trip as the islands are very remote, I could never afford to visit but when I was invited to stay with Hollow Tree’s Resort last August, I was over the moon and created a friends trip, we all had a ball, I spent 18 days here, truly magical. I’ll return in August, and I know I’ll capture even more beauty!
What methods do you use for editing? Can you explain your workflow?
I import all images in Lightroom, I use this for the majority of my editing and then export into Photoshop and finalise the picture here.
How do you educate yourself to become a better photographer?
I receive newsletters from Photography blogs, if there is a subject that interests me, I’ll read into the attached blog.
Who would you say are your greatest influencers and inspirations?
While I was studying at University, when I would process my film and produce imagery manually in the darkroom, Ansel Adams was a huge influence! His work in Yosemite National Park, USA, is mind-blowing. The exposures of his images were perfect, and he would spend countless hours in the darkroom perfecting his exposures, burning in the skies, which I know first hand can be trial and error and very expensive, as photographic paper for darkroom purposes is certainly not cheap! Modern times now, I have many influencing photographers, whom I view and follow through Instagram. Adding Attamimi, an Indonesian photographer although located in Melbourne I met with him years ago when I have begun my professional career as a photographer. He taught me how to shoot architectural surprisingly!
As you can see, he’s a well-known travel photographer and Nikon Ambassador, and I love seeing where his work leads him. He also offers photography workshops across the world, I find this fascinating as he is giving and teaching so many people worldwide. I certainly would love to provide this one day.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a photographer?
You are earning enough income to survive in Western society! Haha sorry... boring answer, however, there are so many amateur photographers or people wanting to become one, they offer their services for free, this is the only downside of the current, social media world. Anyone can be a photographer, no matter if you’ve had years of education and training when people offer services for free, then why would these clients be willing to pay a premium? This is where you find loyal clients and show your worth. I am continually being asked for collaborations with models or people with large followings on social media, perhaps in the beginning, yes, you’d agree to some of these knowing you were being acknowledged. But there comes a time, when you have to say No, you have a small business, you have business loans for your high-end equipment, subscriptions for your digital software and most of all the editing time when finishing your projects. People don’t realise what is involved in that perfect photo; the shooting time is minimal compared to computer time. Which I detail in all my enquiries when people request a quote from me, so they understand the complete work and time they’re receiving when booking a shoot with me.
Lastly, do you have any advice you would give someone starting in photography?
Find your niche market, believe in yourself and go for it! There are so many photography genres, find the one you love, aspire to, believe in yourself, be happy, and your dreams will become a reality!
To learn more about Fiona, book a shoot or workshop see her website for more information www.fionapeters.com