How Tom Carroll Viewed Surfing Culture Through A Lense

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Opening Ceremony, Marui Pro, May, 1984
It is reported that around 5 Billion photos are shot on iPhones alone daily, that's a lot of photos. Now let's rewind the clock and go back to the early 80's, in particular on the professional surfing tour, I can't imagine there would be many with a camera. Especially in comparison to today when almost everyone on the World Surfing League tour has a mobile phone with an inbuilt camera.

One of the few in the 80's was Two-time World Champion and Pipeline Master, Australian surfer Tom Carroll. Whilst traveling the globe dominating the sport he also took with him his trusty Canon AV-1 camera. Which he used to document the wild, crazy and unique lifestyle and culutre that came with being a professional surfer in the 80s.

"Not many - if any - pro surfers carried a camera around the tour. Once I looked through a lens, I couldn’t help myself.” - Tom Carroll

In his home on the New South Wales coast are thousands upon thousands of photographs and negatives of moments stored in plastic boxes which have survived not one but two house fires. With the help of Canon and curator Benjamin Chadbond, select moments captured on film have been brought back to life and put on show for a truly unique exhibition.

The colours of the photographs are as vibrant as the characters he captured. When I asked Tom if any of the photos had been touched up he said that they only thing that was really done to them was that some mold had to be removed.
 
Salt In The Blood, a short film documenting parts of Tom's life and how the exhibition came to be pulled together was screened at the launch of the Torquay exhibition. Within the first few minutes of the film I was welling up as Tom's words of being embraced by the ocean when times were tough struck a nerve with me. It is a beautiful short film that surfers, photographers and anyone with an appreciation for creative freedom will enjoy.

The exhibition is on at the Boardriders Bar 61 in Torquay until late April, and there is the potential for additional shows after that - stay tuned.

If you heading down to the Rip Curl Pro, take a moment and see just how many people are there taking snaps with their mobile phones verses an actual camera.At the moment my Canon G16 is currently getting serviced so I'll be resorting to my iPhone for the next few weeks.

A post shared by Nicole Tattersall (@nictatt) on

I want to thank Surfing World Magazine, Canon, and Quiksilver for hosting the launch. Also Tom Carroll for spending the time giving me a personal tour of his photographs and discussing the stories behind them. 

For more information and updates about the exhibition visit the Canon website.


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