Clare Plueckhahn - Photographer and Filmmaker

Clare Plueckhahn has produced the most beautiful and vibrant images and films for big brands like Rip Curl, Billabong and Patagonia. Clare is a multiawarded photographer and filmmaker, and she takes every project to the next level. Her work has been featured in publications such as Surfgirl, Australian Surfing Life, ACP Magazines, News Magazines, Cooler, Foam Mag and Pop Magazine. Her surf industry clientele includes Rip Curl, Billabong & Patagonia.

What did you study?

I went into a Bachelor of Arts at RMIT in Melbourne - straight out of high school - which was a massive eye opener. As the course was quite intensive and most of my peers were a lot older than me - after two years I took a gap year and travelled around world, surfing, working and shooting. It turned out to be just the thing I needed to get the ball rolling creatively for me.

How did you get into professional photography and filmmaking?

After assisting for a couple of years I started shooting commercially in Melbourne but was getting itchy feet. I had been surfing since I was little so I thought - I’d be silly to not combine my favourite things. I invested in a water housing and after playing around in the icy waters of Victoria I booked a few trips up north and to Indo. From here I started to build a surf photography folio and began approaching surf brands. 

Can you tell us a bit about your current job position and how did you get there?

I had been working in the commercial photography industry for three years before being approached to produce First Love, a feature length documentary about three young female surfers. The film went on to win Best Documentary at X Dance in Utah in 2010. From here it has all happened quite organically. After First Love, I joined Fran Derham as the directing team at Cos We Can. One of our first projects together was a short surf film called Lunchbreak, a comedic take on girls dominating the surf and received the top gong at the New York Surf Film Festival. Although now the majority of my time is spent shooting commercial work as a Director/DP, I still make sure I have personal work and longer form projects always on the go.

You have collaborated with some cool magazines like Surfgirl, Foam Mg, etc. How did you get involved?

I began submitting photography work into the magazines quite early on but it took a little while to make good relationships with the different editors. It wasn’t until I starting going on trips with Rip Curl and Billabong that I had really great ‘story’ content and I started getting a lot of work published.

You have done some work for surf brands such as Ripcurl and Billabong. What did you do for them and how was the experience?

I have done a variety of work for various surf brands over the last few years. Mainly a mix of commercial fashion work and then longer form documentary style surfing trips for Rip Curl, Patagonia & Billabong. The project I’m most proud of would be DOPing the feature length documentary 'Uncharted Waters - A Personal History of Wayne Lynch.' The project also saw me interview over 50 legends of surfing, learning life lessons from an era that was before my time.

One of the "My Bikini" films for Rip Curl by Clare Plueckhahn

What is that you love the most about your job?

What I love most about my job is that every day is so different - working and collaborating with amazing people, in diverse locations all over the world. I hate this phrase - but I do feel blessed to do what I do for a living.

What challenges have you come across on your career?

I would say that finding a good balance of commercial work, creative work, and time just living is my biggest challenge at the moment. You don’t want work to define your life or who you are, but as a photographer and film maker it does. Being a creative can at times be all consuming, so it’s very important to make time to spend with friends, family and doing whatever makes you happy.

What is that you like about surf photography?

There is nothing quite like shooting in the water. Not only is it the most challenging part of my job, it is also the most rewarding. Not to mention you also get a lot of amazing energy from being in the ocean for long periods of time.  I would say that I love shooting in the water as much as I love actually surfing.

Any exciting projects coming your way?

At the moment I’m just wrapping up on a few projects after a really busy few months. So while I have a few projects in development I’m looking forward to having a quick break to creatively re-charge & get in the water!

Where can we find you online?


Posted by: Marta Gallardo, on July 28, 2016
Categories: Interviews