INTERVIEW WITH @matt_burgess_photo
Firstly, can you start with a little bit about yourself?
Hello! My name is Matt, and I am an ocean photographer from the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia. I am a husband, father, soldier and most importantly, an ocean addict.
What drew you to capture the ocean the way you do?
I started shooting the ocean seriously in 2007 while living in Perth, Western Australia. The waves were usually terrible and crowded, so I began to look for other ways to capture the fleeting moments of brilliance that the ocean provides. I was called a nerd and usually laughed at by “surfers” for shooting from the water, it was well before social medial and seen as “taboo” at the time. I started with a point and shoot waterproof camera and slowly built up my equipment as the addiction took hold!
Can you give me a breakdown of the equipment you use to create your images?
I am currently shooting with a Canon 5DMK3. My favourite lens would be the Canon 16-35mm F2.8 ii – It’s a beast and allows a lot of versatility when shooting in the water and low light situations. Aquatech Imaging Solutions Housings protect my camera gear. In addition, I use Lumecubes, Shark Banz, Nife fins, Sunbutter reef safe sunscreen and Need Essentials wetsuits.
What motivates you to push yourself right to the edge to get that perfect shot?
The thrill of the chase and the possibilities keep me going back! It gets super cold down here in sunny Victoria, so getting out of bed can be hard sometimes. I know if I don’t go, I will be grumpy and disappointed in myself all day! So I always get up.
Have you ever had an experience that scared you in the water?
Nothing too major just the usual scraping, you can get under large water masses. I think if you respect the ocean, your surroundings and know your limits, you should be fine.
On day by day basis, what do you do to keep yourself physically fit to be able to do what you do?
I have been in the Australian Army for nearly 20 years, so I get paid to go to the gym and be fit, fitness is a massive part of Military life.
What would you say inspires your creative vision?
I draw inspiration from nature, and it’s the most excellent show on earth! The ocean especially is ever-changing, and no moment will ever be replicated.
Talk me through your process before getting into the ocean to shoot, what are you looking for to create that perfect image?
Before getting into the ocean, I usually have pre-checked all the conditions (winds, swell, tide) and prepared my equipment. I typically know what type of wave I will be shooting; it could be a reef break, slab or shore break. I also check the cloud cover and the general direction of the sun, and if everything is aligned and you put yourself out there. There is no reason why you couldn’t get a great image! The most important thing is to GO!
How do you continue to educate yourself to become a better photographer?
I read – a lot! Also, just spending time with your camera in different light and weather situations. I am always learning, if you stop learning you have given up.
Are there any photographers or people who have inspired you on your ocean photography journey?
Anyone that has a go inspires me! And it is good. There are a few “photographers” within surf photography with their heads up their butts! It costs nothing to be kind, support each other and be happy!
Among all your work, what is your most memorable capture?
My favourite image is still in the ocean! But! If I had to choose it would be an image called “angelic”, it was captured on the back beaches of the Mornington Peninsula in the summer of 2017. The image is of two waves meeting creating backwash, which throws water meters into the air. This particular backwash created the form of an angel, and I knew it was a keeper the moment I captured it.