Anrielle Hunt is the latest legend to have a chat with Urth for our ongoing conversation with our favourite female ocean photographers from all over the world.
Anrielle Hunt | AUSTRALIA
All around dreamboat Anrielle from Byron Bay took some time in between Hawaii and Australia to answer some questions for your enjoyment. A testament to the phrase what is soft is strong, Anrielle has developed a standout and recognisably gentle style in a world of saturated similarities. Balancing nursing with freelance photography and finding time to get the board into the water and walk her beautiful dog through sunrise on the beaches of Byron every morning. All the while beaming with a positive and grateful attitude that is as genuine as her love for the sea. Wonderful human, fantastic photographer, Shooting the Surf with Anrielle Hunt.
Urth: Thanks for your time Anrielle. How are you? Where are you answering these questions from and what are you plans for the day
Anrielle Hunt: Thank you for having me, I am very well. I’m currently on the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly. Started the day with a coffee & some great chats. I plan on ending the day with a vino & more great chats.
What gets you up in the morning and what is the first thing you do?
The first thing I do is smile, because I’m fortunate enough to wake up to another day. I get up every day ready to see how it will unfold & ready to somehow try to make somebody’s day better.
When did you start making photos, was there an initial reason or inspiration?
I started in my younger years making home videos, which then moved into stills. I had a break during my teens & was sparked to pick it up again a few years ago out of necessity when my life kind of fell apart. I decided to take control, do something that makes me happy & share it in hopes of inspiring any human going through a rough time. Out of the dirt grows a sunflower… or something like that.
You grew up in the water, and surrounded by surfing, do you remember when you wanted to start making photographs in the water?
I was really drawn to surf photography by how I felt just being in the ocean, not necessarily surfing… just getting in there. I have really been inspired by female surf photographers & thought I’d try my hand at it.
You’re a nurse as well a talented photographer, amongst many other talents as well, how do you find your balance between working and shooting?
I feel the balance came naturally. Having been a registered nurse for 6 years I worked out for me that quality of life is number one. Often being surrounded by a lot of sadness at work I feel its integral to have a balance to be able to check out & recharge so I can stay alert & positive. Shooting doesn’t ever feel like work. It lifts me up & reminds me how fortunate I am to live this existence.
What is your favourite photograph you’ve ever taken, and could you tell us the story behind it?
My favourite photograph I have taken is one when I was in Iceland, having found myself on a trip with some new friends who were making a surf film. We were at a break 4 hours out of Reykjavik with no another soul around, black sand and rock formations out to sea. I had borrowed a camera for the day; it was the first time properly shooting in years. It’s a photo of one of my friends sitting out there, alone, in-between two peaks just sitting & waiting. The stillness & quietness of that moment in time has stayed with me. I’ll have to show you sometime.
Who or what are some of your inspirations? And what keeps you motivated to keep creating?
I have always been astounded by colour. I think it is such an incredible sensory experience. I have always noticed how the colours change around me at different times of the day, how the ocean changes colour from sunrise to sunset. I am also really inspired by surfing in general, predominantly longboarding, in particular, female longboarding. There is something so gentle & strong when you watch someone surfing. So many different styles & points of practice. Nose-riding for some, trimming for others. So for me to capture colour & surfing was probably inevitable.
I always find it interesting in that every photographer will give such different advice to younger people looking to get into the industry. What advice would you give your younger self?
Lots of advice haha the advice I would give my younger self would be to not be fearful. Don’t be fearful of what other people may think or say about your art. Don’t be fearful about failing, it’s actually so great. Don’t be fearful about streamlining or left of centre, sit wherever you want if it’s where you’re happiest. Remember why you started your art & try to stay grounded with that reason because that is how you continue to do what you love with a smile.
Photography can be integral to educating people and raising awareness on environmental and conservation issues (I believe!) Would you agree and does this play a role in your work?
I definitely agree. I feel strongly about banning single-use plastic (all plastic if it was possible but baby steps) and have implemented things over the years to do minimise waste in my life. I hope that my imagery shows how beautiful our coast is and that in order to keep it that way we all need to stand together and do our bit. I love what Take 3 for the Sea are doing and Kate Nelson (plastic-free mermaid) has some really easy and practical info for anyone wanting to know where to start :)
There is a flourishing community of talented lady shredders in Byron Bay, can you tell us about your experience as a female surfer and ocean photographer in Byron Bay?
I would say I have a complicated relationship with surfing in Byron. When it’s really busy that’s usually when I’ll get the camera out, suddenly I can breathe again and do my own thing not hustling for waves. In saying that, for the most part, I adore it. I adore the women I get to share the ocean with who are graceful & playful in every way. We are so lucky to have so many women in the line-up, it really changes the dynamics out there. I love shooting women in the surf, I am so proud to be able to capture each one of them with their different styles of surfing & try to get those moments in between. The giggles and stillness.
Who are your favourite female photographers, surf and otherwise?
It was the feeling surf photography gave me that inspired me to create my own. I can say without a doubt if it wasn’t for Ming Nomchong and Fran Miller I probably wouldn’t have mustered the courage to try my hand at it. Some other photographers that stand out, in my mind, are Woody Gooch and Brydie Mack.
You shoot a lot of film, is this something that is an integral part of your creative process?
I originally opted for film because it was $300 for my Nikonos vs many, many more monies for a digital and housing. I wanted to be responsible for every error and every win with regards to surf photography. Shooting a moving subject in unpredictable conditions with a completely manual camera (with a broken light metre) felt challenging and that’s what I was after. I’ve since completely fallen in love with film and that I don’t have an infinite amount of shots. Keeps me on my toes.
What motivates and drives your creative endeavours?
I don’t feel like I have a choice when it comes to motivation, my other job (registered nurse) is really full on and often emotionally draining. Using my brain creatively, especially in the water, reinvigorates me. It makes me a better person that’s for sure. The main drive behind the subjects I shoot is wanting to show reality. Especially to the younger generation. No one wears makeup, no photoshop… Just women in the water pure and simple. I want people of all of all ages and shapes to feel safe in the ocean (and in front of my lens!).
If you could photograph any person or any place, who or where would it be? I know my list for this topic grows every day, so maybe who or where has been at the top recently?
It is more places I’d like to shoot. If I can go back in time San Onofre Beach, California 1963 & The Pass, Byron Bay 1960. I’ve heard great, great, great things. I’ve spent a lot of time in both locations over the years & neither disappoint.
What personal projects can we look forward to from you next, what are you enjoying exploring at the moment?
I have a huge respect for aging & I feel aged humans aren’t represented enough (in the bubble I reside in). I’m working on a project involving this idea so that’s cool!
Thank you for your time Anrielle :)
Byron Bay, specifically the Industrial Estate
You can treat yourself to more photographic magic from Anrielle with her roll in 12 Frames with Anrielle Hunt.