Ben's head above water
PHOTOGRAPHER Ben Bugden was lucky enough grow up in Byron Bay back when it was still possible to surf The Pass with just a handful of friends, the road to Tallows was a dirt track and bananas still grew on the hillsides at Wategos.
Throughout his life the ocean and the lifestyle surrounding it have been pivotal in shaping him as a person and photographer and his new exhibition, Head Above Water, opens at 6-8pm tomorrow (Friday November 2)at The Lone Goat Gallery in Byron Bay.
Ben and his partner have just returned to Byron Bay but he retains his role as deputy editor of Tracks Magazine - Australia's most iconic surf publication.
So Ben really knows the ocean and what it takes to make a great photo of the sea that surrounds him physically and spiritually.
"The work in this exhibition reflects the feeling the ocean gives me - it has always been a place for me to go and reset,” he said.
"No matter what is going on in my life, I can dive into the ocean and it casts a more positive light on the day.
"In these works I am not focusing so much on capturing a surfer or a particular manoeuvre, quite a few of the works are almost abstract and impressionistic - it's more about capturing the moods the ocean can take on from moment to moment.”
Ben's father introduced him to surfing early, "chucking me into the surf at the Pass when I was about five” and from then on the ocean and surfing have been a constant in his life.
He studied traditional dark room photography as a student at Byron Bay High School with the photography of Australian legend Max Dupain proving a revelation.
"As well as Dupain's classic image of the Sunbaker, its all those early memories of the beach that are still strong with me,” Ben said.
"Sitting on the beach with mum eating apricots, the shimmering surface and cool relief of the water the first time I stepped in, lying in the rain curled up in Dad's board bag under pandanus palms waiting for him to come in and the feeling of a stressful day melting away with the embrace of the ocean.”
Head Above Water continues until Wednesday, November 28. Go to www. facebook.com/lonegoat gallery for more details.