Ming Nomchong - Photographer

When and where did you learnt to surf?
My surfing career has been a stop start process for a few years now. Traveling around the place the last couple of years for work has meant that surfing sometimes was put on the back burner. But I would have to say I started to learn back in 2007 when an ex boyfriend would take his dad's 8'6 rainbow coloured mini Mal down to the southern end of Bondi in Sydney and let me loose amongst all the testosterone. It was a very funny/frustrating/scary time let me tell you! Since coming back home last year and this year for good, my surfing has improved immensely now I have more time to commit to it. 

What do you love about surfing?
I love that when your out on your board, it's just you and the ocean. You're in such an expansive space, it really brings the important things in life into perspective. Being out there, connecting with something bigger than you, an energy that creates the waves you ride, it's such an awe inspiring experience, every time. I also love the community that surfing creates. You become friends with people in your local town or suburb that you probably wouldn't otherwise be friends with and I love that about surfing. 

You're based in Byron, what do you love most about living there?
Although Byron is a hugely popular tourist destination, it's still a small town. I'm reminded everyday why I love it here so much by how many times I say hello to people I see when I'm going about my day.  And I love that there's so much creativity going on here, whether it's surf, art, music, activism or conservation, the people of Byron are passionate about life. It's hard not to be inspired every day.

How did you first get into photography?
My mum was a photographer, so for me, photography was something I grew up with and then naturally grew into. It's been a part of my life since I can remember. It's all I've ever wanted to do.

Do you have a favourite shot that you have taken?
No, and only because my favourite shot is always changing. Every time I shoot something new, I have a new favourite shot. And I get tired of my images all the time too. I'll like something for a while and then look at it and think it's rubbish.

What sort of education have you had?
I did photography at school and then a few years later I studied a Fine Arts degree with a major in Photomedia at COFA in Sydney and graduated in 2003. After that I learned everything I didn't learn at uni from assisting commercial and fashion photographers. Assisting other photographers was the best learning experience I've had in my career.

What was your very first job?
My very first photography job was an assistant/junior photographer at a wedding and portrait studio back in Sydney. I didn't last long as I got fired for asking for a travel allowance when I would shoot weddings for the studio. Luckily, the jobs after that were a lot more enjoyable and rewarding! After leaving that studio, I worked for a big portrait studio in Sydney's eastern suburbs before leaving there to start assisting commercial and fashion photographers for a few years before slowly heading out on my own.

What is your current job and what does it entail?
My current job is a freelance surf, lifestyle and travel photographer (who also shoots the occasional wedding). 

My job can be so varied. Sometimes, I'll be shooting in the surf on spec to submit to magazines with the intention of being published, or I'll be commissioned for assignments by travel and or surf magazines, or shooting fashion/lifestyle for a brand/label. At the same time I'll be organising my back end admin, booking shoots, editing, processing, retouching images, bloging and being constantly active on social media and self marketing. It's definitely a full time gig!

What do you like most about your job?
I love the freedom of working for myself. I make my own hours and set my own time. But it makes me push myself further than I every would, working under someone else. Because it's just you out there with no safety net around you. It's so cliche but it true, you're only as good as your last image.

Who or what has had the biggest influence on your career?
I would definitely say that surfing has been the biggest influence in my career. It's because of surfing that I started to shoot in the water and it was around about the time that my love of surfing flourished, that my shooting style changed and has catapulted me to where I am now.

If you could photograph anybody or anything in the world who/what would it be?
I love shooting women surfers and the female surfing culture and portraying it in a way that's real, feminine and cool. I love that we're finally moving away from the sex driven ideology of the female surf scene of the past and embracing it for the beauty that it is. So when I get the opportunity to shoot a female surfer or a woman's surf brand, it's like a dream come true for me because I feel like I'm helping create a more positive world for women in general.  

Do you have any advice for people wanting to make a career out of surf photography?
Find your own style and something that makes you a point of difference to every other surf photographer out there. It's the only way to make it, as everybody has a camera these days, but not everybody can take a picture that makes you go Whoah! Good luck!

Where can we find you online? 

Web: www.mingnomchong.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MingNomchongPhotography
Tumblr: thedrifterming.tumblr.com
Instagram: @thedrifterblog


Posted by: Matthew Ryan, on September 27, 2013
Categories: Interviews