Amy Pearl is a lifestyle photographer from the Tweed Coast of Northern NSW, Australia. She has grown up near the ocean, which has inspired her to capture photographs that tell a story. By combining this passion for the sea and creative imagery, her work produces a relaxed and whimsical vibe that is sure to delight everyone. @amypearlphoto
Firstly, can you start with a little bit about yourself?
I'm 29 years old and married to my best friend, Daniel. We have a daughter and another child due soon. Most days, I love just living the simple life spending time with her. I grew up surfing every day and was a competitive junior surfer until I was 20. I had so many amazing experiences through surfing. I've always loved the ocean and remember being in awe of the visions I'd get out in the water and want to share them with others to enjoy. I've always been creative and loved the ocean, and this all naturally led to me buying a camera and water housing and getting into ocean photography. I started a small photography business about a year ago, and it's been going well… I'm enjoying the ride!
When did you first start your photography journey?
I started my photography journey about 4 years ago. Previous to that, I had an old GoPro and an old DSLR which I loved to shoot on. I dreamt of upgrading to a full frame DSLR and water housing and eventually decided to just do it and teach myself how to use it. It was the best decision I've ever made.
What equipment do you use, and why did you select it?
We had a friend selling a Canon 5D mark ii with a range of lenses in perfect condition. Although the Canon 5D ii was an older model, it was still a high-quality full frame camera, and it was my chance to get an almost complete set up in one go at a reasonable price. The lenses included a Canon f2.8 20mm, f2.8 35mm and an f2.8 80 mm. I then bought a Canon f2.8 70-200mm, a 2.8 Sigma 15mm and an SPL Housing to complete my set up. It has been everything I've needed so far, but I am looking to upgrade my camera body this year and currently deciding what I'll upgrade to.
What would you say is your favourite lens and Why?
My favourite is the 20mm for ocean photography as I like how I can do under/over shots and surfer shots with the one lens. The only tricky thing is I have to be really close to the surfer for this wide angle lens.
My favourite lens overall is by far the 70-200mm lens, it is so sharp and smooth, and I would love to get it in the water one day.
When you travel what must have equipment do you take?
I take my camera body with the 20mm and SPL housing for water, 35mm for lifestyle on-the-go shots and the 70-200 for everything in between. I pack them all into my RVCA Zak Noyle backpack and go.
What time of day do you prefer to shoot at?
I wish I were a morning person as sunrise would have to be the best time to shoot, but I hate early mornings and love my sleep too much! So during the day for my bright, blue water shots and late afternoon for my warm golden images.
What inspires your creative vision?
Nature and the ocean itself, there's so much beauty out there I just want to capture it to share with others. What methods do you use for editing? Can you explain your workflow?
I use Adobe Lightroom. I have some personal presets saved to cut downtime. I am looking to sell these when I get my act together so keep an eye out! I firstly flick through to see what might suit it as a good starting point. I have certain ones for water shots or sunset shots or model shots. I then make heaps of tweaks to make it look the way I like. I just trust my instincts and throw the rules out the window and get creative. I do a lot of dodges and burning on my shots. This just means to lighten and darken specific areas of an image. I do this with pretty much all of my pictures to bring out the detail. I have a couple Blogs on my website which go into some detail on my editing.
Among all your work, what is the most memorable moment you have captured?
That's a good question! It would have to be a sea tornado I captured recently. It was incredible to watch, and I have never set up my camera so quickly. It received a crazy reaction on social media and went viral with over 11 thousand likes, which I wasn't anticipating. It was wild, and I was stoked people connected with it the way they did.
How do you continue to educate yourself to become a better photographer?
I'm constantly learning. There's a rad community of photographers on social media that I'm always learning from. That's by far my favourite part about social media. I'm also a part of a photography group on WhatsApp that I'm still learning from and inspired by. There's also an infinite range of resources on YouTube which I get into sometimes to learn and be inspired.
What advice do you have for people wanting to grow their Instagram following?
Just enjoy what you do and capture images you love, and it happened naturally. Consistency on Instagram is tremendous, so think about what your niche is and stick to it. But don't let this box you in either, just shoot what you love, and people will naturally follow along. It's also essential to engage with others if you want them to engage with you and see what you're putting out there.
Who are your greatest photography inspirations?
There are so many! I can't go past @nolanomura, he's one of the first photographers that made me realise you can capture ocean shots in an artistic and moody way and use beautiful tones in your work with a unique style. I loved his so much it made me think about what I wanted my unique style to look like, and I have been developing it ever since. @ellenmarytaylor is another favourite, the light in her shots and the tones are always so perfect, I look forward to her shots every time, and I'm always inspired.
What is the most memorable country you have visited?
Fiji and Vanuatu for the tropical, perfect water and NZ for its raw and stunning coastline.
What country are you dying to photograph?
What continues to motivate you to produce your work?
I love nature and being creative, and I just can't get enough of capturing it in unique ways.
Lastly, what is one piece of advice you would give someone starting out in photography?
Just enjoy it and uniquely express yourself! Do it for the love of it, and you'll be hooked for life. Gear doesn't matter. I shot on an entry-level DSLR and one of the first models of GoPro for ages, and it taught me so much. Grab anything you can get and enjoy it.
If you would like to see more of Amy's beautiful images, view her website www.amypearlphoto.com