Monday, November 11, 2013

Bali for the WCT: Behind the Scenes

Jordy Smith's laid-back style

People think of surf photography as a dream job, and in a lot of ways it is. The avoidance of the office, life on the road, travel to dream surf destinations and working with the rockstars of the surfing world. But things are never quite what they look like on the surface. For me the surface was something I've been scratching at for a while. The surf industry does a good job of glamourising itself, the stories and images the surf magazines and media give off only work to feed the ego. The parties, the boys clubs, the lifestyle...

This winter I needed an internship to complete my degree and Perth was cold, rainy, surfless and pretty much had nothing going on. My salvation came in the form of the WCT tour stop in Keramas in Bali, and one kind photographer who was willing to take me on. We spent three weeks bouncing between shooting the contest and covering some free surfing for a well known surfing magazine. Dream job right?

I learnt a lot over those three weeks. First off I learnt Bali black sand is really really hot, and the sun has no mercy. Long shoots on the black sand meant trying to cover myself in head to toe with sarongs and sunscreen, overheating like a dog locked in a car in the sun. Worst thing is you want to drink water, but if you drink to much you have to pee, and if you pee you'll miss the aerial the guy you're shooting is about to pull and everyone will be really angry at you. Plus how do you pee while holding a 500mm surf lens???

Secondly I learnt that shooting contests isn't a whole lot of fun. Take what's mentioned above, then apply it to a crowded beach from 7am until 5pm. I think what blew me away though was just HOW MANY photographers are on the beach, and they all have great equipment. When something happens (like John John's 10 point aerial), you have to hustle to upload and send it off before it becomes old news. A long day of shooting is followed by an evening of editing, because you have to send your images in for publication no more than a few hours after they're shot, otherwise they become obsolete.

Third thing I learnt was it's all who you know in the boys club. Photographers in the industry have spent many years making their contacts. The pros only shoot with the guys they know, so first off you need a foot in the door and THEN you have to build your relationships. And as far as I can tell, it's very much a boys club.

And the positives? Being on location. Being out of the office. Being part of a team. Staying in team houses. But most of all, the satisfaction when you come home to edit your pictures after a long day of shooting, and they're really good. The feeling that you've nailed it.

*Photographs featured are from an unused shoot at the Keramas contest (all images © Tia Calvo)

Team accommodation 

Can't miss the air shot

Jordy Smith

High emotions
Post work chill time in Lombok

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Oh my poor little blog, you get so neglected when I'm not traveling! If I'm not out doing something crazy on the road I guess I figure it's not worth writing about. But then I realise hang on, the past couple months haven't been THAT bad. There was a work experience trip to Indonesia to shoot for Red Bull and TransWorld Surf, traveling through Lombok, bikini shoots and more... so I'll start with the bikini shoot :)

I met two Perth surfer girls Kel and Rachael out in the lineup in Peru. Now were all back in Australia, and I got the pleasure of shooting the campaign for their new bikini company Cenote Swimwear. Inspired by South American designs (meaning nice and SMALL in the bum!), the collection features beautiful vibrant colours and cheeky cuts. I'm so excited to finally find a Perth company making cheeky cut bikini bottoms. I started wearing them in Latin America, and I could NEVER turn back to wearing full sized saggy bummed designs. It rained all day of the shoot, so I'm so happy the pictures turned out. Have a look at the link bellow to see my images featured on Designed by WA website and the Cenote Swimwear website. So proud!

p.s. Did I mention they're designed for surfing in?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Angry Sexy Surfing

Well I've definitely just had the most intense writing venture of my life. It started with being contacted by The Guardian with a commissioned request for an article on woman's surfing. I was super excited by the offer but scared. I thought, am I well versed enough on the subject to write a legit article? After the doubt subsided I realised heck yes I am. Female surfer for 8 years and working in the industry for over three, my opinion is an educated and worthy one. So I wrote it.

The issue was the notorious Roxy advertisement for the surf contest in Biarritz, and it's really created quite a stir. It seems to have split the people, the haters and the supporters. And there are a LOT of haters of my viewpoint. Sex sells. We all know that, it's just a fact of corporate marketing life. That's not in question, but I guess a lot of people missed the point. It's hard writing something that's copping some flack, but as my friend just told me "if you're not getting haters, you're doing something wrong!". Roxy - props to you. Your marketing blunder, whether pre meditated or not, has just given women's surfing the most attention of it's life. That's got to be a good thing right, even if for all the wrong reasons?

Have a read of the article here and tell me your thoughts.

I wrote to my dad about struggling with the negative feedback. The words he gave me really helped. It's not about selling sex folks, it's about this -

"Surfing is male dominated, both the surf industry and the culture. Surfing could really benefit with more participation from women. The surfing industry could benefit financially by greater participation from women - they are the industry's biggest growth market.  The industry and the surfing competitions are becoming more male dominated and sexist / testosterone oriented. That advert is a perfect example. My guess is that it was commissioned, produced and approved by men. Someone prove me wrong please. 

Put it this way. Right or wrong, sex is used all the time to sell things and pretty women are used all the time to sell things. But, the commodity they are selling always features large in the advert. Ford uses sex to sell automobiles. But Ford would never ever make an advert of a sexy woman in a bikini without also showing the car. The car would be the focus of the ad, not the sexy model in the bikini. In professional marketing, sex is used subliminally. Roxy blew it, they used it overtly. 

The surfing culture also really needs more participation from women. Surfing is becoming more and more aggressive in the line up. Both the guys and the girls will agree on that one. Women don't get much respect outside of the line up either. My daughter gets disrespected and even aggressively run over by agro males in the line up. That needs to change. More women in the line up would help to facilitate that change. As a parent of young children, I would not go out of the way to support my kid getting too interested in the sport/culture - too many low IQ sexist dickheads. 

The feedback you're seeing right now to this ad is dominated by males - that also is not good. Why aren't the women being heard? Perhaps because the surfing industry (including the media industry) is dominated by males. Are there any women in senior positions in any aspect of the surfing industry? And women's surfing doesn't need more support/attention from yobbo males, that will just turn the girls off the sport in droves."

Thanks pops, from a non surfer's opinion, you've somehow managed to nail it square on the head. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

In Print

Ok, it has been a LONG time since I've posted. I'll be completely honest with you, there really is nothing exciting to write about. My past month has consisted of classes, assignments and more assignments. I've surfed only a few times and my arms are turning into skinny little non surf worthy noodles. It's becoming a bit of a bummer.

But today I do have something to share. It's the latest issue of Women's Surf Style Magazine. Writing and shooting for print media is a process. I spend so long babying my articles, then finally sending them off. Then I wait. And then finally one day when I've forgotten all about it, there it comes in the mail. A beautiful new shiny copy of the latest magazine with my work in print. It's a great feeling seeing it for the first time. I have two works in this issue that I'm so happy to share; first off is the story of the Cubanitas, the last women surfers in Cuba, and second is an article about my time spent running a hotel in Northern Peru.

You can read them at or pick yourself up a hard copy.

Look that's me! 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Settling Down?

Crossing the river back to camp. Evening surf session living on an empty Central American island. 

I write about a lot of things. Sometimes it's travels, lately it's been work projects. But today I'm going to talk about this really tough thing called coming home. I get asked a lot what the hardest part about years of solo travel is. Most people think it would be living out of a bag, loneliness or financial stress... but the truth is it's none of the above. Instead it's this tricky little thing called adjusting to structured life again.

Coming home it's lovely seeing all my friends and family, it's the best part, but I've become accustomed to a very different every day life. There's a lot of adventure. A lot of solitude. It's new places, people, waves, freedom, and of course at times hard work. That one follows you everywhere. Luckily Perth is an unreal, beautiful place to live which makes things easier. Still, it's a strange thing going to classes all week, coming home, doing the dishes, cooking dinner, paying my bills, going to work.... I feel like a little ant sometimes driving around the city. While it is great to be using my brain and learning new things,  I can't help but count down the days until I'm packing my bags again, with that incredible feeling of not really knowing what's going to happen.

Here's a few pictures from the past year that remind me of what keeps me going. I get asked a lot when I plan to pick a place to settle. The answer is I already am. I'm settled everywhere I go :)

Surf bound in the desert, Northern Peru

Portable beachfront office, can't forget the ukulele!
Life in a suitcase. And a board bag. Oh and don't forget the guitar and the camera gear.
Working hard again in the portable office
Pure. Joy.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Royce Gracie = The Man

It's not my normal assignment. If you haven't already noticed I'm usually pretty surf oriented. However last weekend I took a break from the ocean to document UFC champ and Jiu-Jitsu master Royce Gracie.

Shooting Royce's seminar I was expecting all kinds of intense UFC gnarly fighting moves, but I was pleasantly surprised. A lot of his teachings are based around self defence - the art of brining your opponent down without ever needing to throw a punch. As a solo woman traveler I have decided this is DEFINITELY something I should be learning, how to get away fast in an emergency situation. Fingers crossed I'll never have to use it, but this stuff is awesome. Royce was a top bloke too with a great sense of humour. I'll be looking him up next time I hit California for some proper self defence tutorials! 

UFC champion? No worries. I got this. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Teeny Greenies

Babies babies babies! Here's a days work from shooting local outdoor mums group Teeny Greenies. I felt a little bit weird being the only one without a bub, but my camera counts as my offspring right?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pictures for Presents

I've figured out something really nice. Lately there's been a few friends birthdays and I suck at buying presents, but I thought of a great solution. Why not put my camera gear to good use? I've found making promotional or sentimental videos and birthday photo shoots can make a really special and thoughtful gift. Only danger? It can take a lot more time than you think. For me the editing process, especially video, is a bit of a love hate relationship. It frustrates me like crazy, but yet there's something therapeutic about it. You can get lost in it for hours.

Here some work from two dear friends' projects. The first is a video for the very talented Annabelle Gordon. She makes beautiful, whimsical paper-cut artworks. They really have this magic about them.

The second is a shoot and video for my friend Larissa. She's a first time mum and started up a monthly get together support group for fellow mums and bubs called Teeny Greenies. Working with babies was a whole new challenge. Getting them to look at you is tough. At one point I had about four babies all crawling over me trying to grab the camera. I guess it made an appealing "click" noise, plus it's shiny!

Seriously though. Videos and photos, they can make people very happy. It's a gift I'm happy to be able to give.

To see more of Annabelle's work visit

Photographer under attack!

Those eyes

Teeny Greenies. Visit

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Peru Published on The Inertia!

I always get super excited seeing my work on The Inertia. Here's my latest piece on working life in Northern Peru. This was a tricky one for me. Sometimes ethically I have a hard time knowing what to write about, and what to leave out for fear of hurting people or rocking the boat. But at the end of the day I just want to share stories.

So please check it out and tell me what you think :)

Here are some more behind the scenes photographs from the story

Friday, February 1, 2013

Flying in Kauai

Hands down the best way to do a surf check. When flying lowing enough you can actually see the little surfers on their tiny boards clear as day. Yesterday I was lucky enough to be brought along on a scenic flight in Kauai, Hawaii.

Our plane was a little six seater and I got to ride as co-pilot. Last time I co-piloted I actually flew the plane, but this time the closest I came was accidentally bumping the controls while trying to take photos. Flying in Kauai is pretty treacherous though, with tons of mountains and thermal air pockets making for a bumpy ride. For the last half hour I was a miserable motion sick mess, 10 more minutes and I would have thrown up for sure!

I had NO idea what lies in the interior of Kauai, and it was SO cool. Hundreds of untouched, unreachable waterfalls, pristine canyons, valleys, rivers and craters. It was unlike anything I've ever seen. We even flew right over the wettest place on the earth - Mount Waialeale. Then to top it all of we even got to see whales jumping from the air. I don't think my stomach would allow me to do it again, but it was still an unreal experience. I've now decided the best way to check the surf is by air. Someone get me a plane and a pilot!!!

Hanalei Bay surf check

Well hello there baby hellicopter!

Poipu from the air.

Hidden interior waterfall. 
Flying anyone?
The beautiful Napali coastline.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sound of the Amazon

Ok so I haven't really posted since new years... blame it on Hawaii ok? I've been too busy surfing and camping. But now I've finally returned to the lights of my computer screen to post this video from my time in the Amazon jungle. The little girl is part of the family I stayed with in a tiny village. Everything revolves around the river there. You bathe in it, wash your clothes and dishes, and even drink it. It tasted a bit funny at first but believe it or not I never go sick. My favorite thing there was paddling up river in the family's little dug out canoe and drifting back fishing for piranha. Those little suckers are so feisty and so much fun to fish for. We had long wooden sticks with finishing line, a hook and meat for bait. They're not bad eating either!