On a beautiful evening in Dana Point, the Follow The Light Awards made a triumphant return. After a brief hiatus, the surf photography grant in the memory of the late Surfing magazine photo editor Larry “Flame” Moore was resurrected this year, and after an overwhelmingly positive response during the submission process, it was Tasmania’s Nick Green taking the top honors.
“I can’t believe this is even happening right now,” Green said at the awards presentation held at the Ocean Institute. “So many talented photographers submitted their work, and all of the finalists were absolutely amazing.”
For the effort, Green won the $5,000 cash prize, a suite of water housings from Aquatech, a collection of iPhone lenses from OlloClip, as well as the working opportunity with Vans at this year’s Triple Crown on the North Shore. And for being the finalist that traveled the furthest, he also will be teaming up with the World Surf League to shoot the Freshwater Pro.
But Green, surf photography is much more than a hobby or career avenue. It’s literally helped save his life. Struggling with depression as a teenager, he found relief behind the lens.
“Struggling with mental health is probably my biggest influence to take photos,” Green explains. “When I was 17 years old I threw myself in front of a moving car, hit me at 90km/h and sent me flying, somehow I survived with only a broken hip and snapped femur. It wasn’t something I’m proud of but without that mistake I wouldn’t be where I am today, with my photography, or other aspects of my life. I was blissfully unaware of the sickness I had and it sparked a change in my life that needed to happen. I started taking care of myself, speaking out and getting help as well as finding things that gave me joy and purpose; and that’s where photography, especially in the ocean, came in.”
“Just like a lot of people, I find peace in the sea, it’s a meditation and healing process, so the combination of that and creating photographs was a natural progression for me,” he continues. “Put simply, photography was giving me something to do, something to take my mind off things when they got dark, a creative outlet to express myself and immerse myself in the present moment, which at that point in my life I was really struggling with. Photography was the therapy that I didn’t know I needed.”
In terms of his photographic style, look no further than his surroundings and environment in Tasmania.
“My style is quite dark and moody, and living in Tasmania, those two things are fairly common throughout the year which makes It easier to capture certain landscapes or scenes in the light that I’m after, but I am definitely looking out for those really dark days, the type of days most people want to be at home all rugged up are normally the days I’m looking to shoot,” Green says. “Early morning or late afternoon light is always good as well, creating silhouettes and high contrasts on the subject.”
The other finalists for the 2019 Follow The Light Awards include Huntington Beach’s Shane Grace, who won the People’s Choice award, Santa Barbara’s Paul Greene, New Jersey’s Ryan Mack, and Goleta’s Nolan Sullivan. All of the finalists received $1,000 for their effort and to help cover travel expenses.
Green now joins the illustrious list of Follow The Light winners, including Chris Burkard, Ray Collins, Todd Glaser and Seth DeRoulet.
After a big victory celebration in Dana Point, Green hopped on Highway 1 and headed north to explore and photograph California, including Big Sur and Yosemite. It’s safe to say that you’ll surely be seeing more of this young Tasmanian’s work in the very near future. Congratulations, Nick!
And a special thank you to all of the sponsors, judges, volunteers, and especially Moore’s family for turning this dream into a reality and making the return of Follow The Light such an amazing experience.
Sample works from the 2019 Follow The Light Winner Nick Green