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Woody Gooch’s photos transcend the traditional surf photo formula of heaving barrels and huge airs. Don’t let that statement misguide you, there is some radical surfing in his portfolio. However, there is a more timeless element to Woody G’s style, a frozen moment of sheer bliss, something that is truly relatable to all surfers whether you are an aerial wizard or trim master.
So tap into this young Australian’s art, and be transfixed, inspired, and moved because Woody’s journey behind the lens is just starting, and luckily for all of us he is passionate about exploring the world and sharing his vision. We sat down with the young Noosa local to find out about growing up next to one of the world’s foremost longboard waves, shooting for Deus, and his inspirational relationship with Harrison Roach.
Noosa seems like a magical place, is that where you grew up?
Of course. It’s deadset beautiful. I actually was brought up in Melbourne until I was 2 and then my parents made the move to the Eastern side of Australia so they could bring myself and my younger brother up on the beach and to have the lifestyle that we did / still do.
What kind of influence did growing up there have on you?
The best thing was being home-schooled. My parents home-schooled us for my last few years of primary school and then most of our high school years. Having the flexibility and time to study the things that really interested us was so important to my parents, which obviously has made a huge impact on what we're doing now. I can’t thank them enough for choosing the roads they took.
It seems like Noosa never lost its connection to alternative surf craft and traditional longboarding, was that something that you were conscious of growing up?
A lot more now; I wasn't really in tune with it when I was younger. I use to skate a lot and didn't surf as much or was into as much as I am now.
How did you get into shooting photos? Were you immediately into shooting surfing?
As I said above I use to skateboard a lot. I would borrow my father's Nikon d40 to photograph my afternoons down at my local skatepark with friends. We would all switch and trade until we all have a new picture for Facebook. It grew on me and I realised I loved to freeze moments that only occur once.
How are your folks, did they support your creative vision or did they want you to get into accounting or something more stable?
Always. That's something I'm forever grateful for. I sometimes wonder if I would be where I'm at if it wasn't for there push of support and courage they had behind me.
You seem to have a really cool connection with Deus, how did you get connected with all those epic humans?
Yeah! They are like family really. I've known Harrison before he rode for Deus. As he merged into Deus I followed.
Is that how you met Harrison?
You two seem to connect in a really beautiful and inspiring way, is that a unique connection for you?
Definitely. He's been a big inspiration for me too. He's watched me grow, figure out my own style and go for it. Harrison was pretty much the first ever person I shot surfing. We've concurred a lot together in the past 6 years. There's plenty more for us to accomplish too.
Your photos have a really visceral feeling, and they’re timeless. Is that an aspect of taking photos you focus on? Is it important that your photos still look good in 10 or 20 years?
I don't really think about it. I just photograph the way I see things and it's grabbed people. If they are appealing to people now I can't see why they wouldn't be in 10 or 20 years. That's what I love about photography - I am only 19, and photography has opened up my world to people, the ocean, places and laughter, every day and every night. It gives me hope and excitement. It allows you to touch people.
You get to travel for work, what is the most inspiring place you have been?
I love Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Two very diverse but powerful countries to be traveling through.
You just recently had your first solo show, how did that turn out?
My first solo exhibition was actually in October last year. The turnout was amazing and it's made me want to show my work more regularly around the world. I just completed my second solo show last week in Tokyo. I've got another 6 for this year.
What’s does 2016 have in store for you any big plans?
I've got plenty. Exhibiting more work, I've got some big jobs with some big clients which I'm stoked on. I'm really excited to complete some big personal jobs that I've been waiting to do for years. This year's looking like it's going to all come together.
Last question if you could have a session at epic Noosa with you and two to other cats dead or alive who would you paddle out with?
Ideally I still want to surf Noosa on my own. Maybe one day when I invent a fake shark to do laps up and down the bay (Laughs).