Joel Coleman - Photographer

When and where did you learnt to surf?
My mum first pushed me into a few waves on a bodyboard when I was pretty young, I can’t quite remember but it was somewhere under the age of 10. At around 14-16 I started surfing myself around the city beaches of Sydney. I travelled a fair bit after high school and that’s when I really started to dedicate a lot of time to surfing.

What do you love about surfing?
At the end of it you have nothing but a memory to show for it. You can never master it, as there is always room for improvement and in the words of Tim Winton ‘it’s as beautiful as it is pointless'.

How did you first get into photography?
I was 14 and it was an elective in art class at school. I started learning how to use an SLR at that point (back when film was the medium of choice). Before then I had always loved my point and shoot cameras which I had been using since primary school.

Do you have a favourite shot that you have taken?
There are certain images that come to mind that I really like, but I try not to get too introspective about my photography, I prefer to look what I have done in the past and focus on improving that in the future.

What sort of education have you had?
After high school I have had no formal education in photography. I have worked with other photographers and spend a lot of time educating myself through good old fashioned ‘trial & error’.

What was your very first job?
My first job as a photographer was for the school magazine, but the very first job that I got paid for was working in a retail store at age 15.

Tell us a bit about Saltmotion and how it started?
Saltmotion is a collection of images of the ocean that I have been working on since I first started photographing. The best of these images are on display and available for sale at my gallery in Manly on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
Saltmotion started as a simple way for me to share my photographs of the ocean with those who were in them (my friends). It quickly grew, as more people were interested in seeing the images. Over time it became a regular blog and my full time career.
This year a number of changes are taking place as the focus is shifting to a few new areas I want to explore as a photographer, I am going to be producing images under my own name ‘Joel Coleman Photography’ but will maintain the Saltmotion Blog so people can follow the journey.

What do you like most about your job?
The freedom to choose when, where, how and why I spend my time creating photographs.

Who or what has had the biggest influence on your career?
My wife Sherrie, without her I would not have the career I have today.

If you could photograph anybody or anything in the world who/what would it be?
Haha, I have lists that reach into the hundreds of natural wonders and people I want to photograph. Let’s just say one of the things I am focusing on this year is reaching new destinations. Starting with a remote island group in PNG next week… You will have to check the Saltmtoion Blog to see for yourself what comes from there…

Do you have any advice for people wanting to make a career out of surf photography?
If your passionate about it, stick with it!

Where can we find you online? 


Posted by: Matthew Ryan, on January 16, 2014
Categories: Interviews