Based in Torquay, Victoria, surf photographer Ed Sloane recently added the title of Australia’s Top Emerging Photographer (Sport) 2015 to his already impressive list of industry accolades and awards. Sloane began his journey into photography with, what he describes as, a natural evolution from his day job in environmental science. “I used to work in hydrological monitoring which was a bit of a catalyst for photography to develop as I spent so much time outside.”
His style of photography has often been described as the perfect combination of art and action, however defining his own style is something that Sloane struggles with. “I’ve been fascinated by photographic style ever since I picked up a camera. I’m always amazed that one can see a photo of a wave and instantly know who took it. As an emerging photographer, I often wonder if people can see an image of mine and know I took it; although perhaps my style is yet to fully evolve,” he says.
In 2014, Sloane was a runner up in the Sport category and the advice provided by the judges of how to improve one’s portfolio submission, and chance of winning the competition, proved to be invaluable. Overall, the constructive criticism and feedback that judges provided to everyone helped Sloane improve his submission. “Of most help was learning that that the most successful surfing photographers think outside the square, and don’t just capture an athlete in the barrel of a wave,” he says. “I really applied that knowledge to this work and, now that I think about it, it really formed how I went forward for the next 12 months,” he reflects.
The value of entering competitions has been fundamental for Sloane as he uses the outcomes to evolve his own work. He describes photography competitions as a means to dive into a level of critical thinking that isn’t always present in his creative process. “It’s a great way to progress and step back to think about how you approach things,” he says. When it came to his competition submission, Sloane says that he also made sure to include a human element as it’s something that he’s been focusing on recently. “If you’re lucky, you’ll get some feedback and that’s the most valuable part of a competition. But it’s great to see who wins; look at their work and start to break down their strengths relative to yours.”
Ultimately, Sloane believes that it’s really important to stick to what you do best. “It’s certainly a cliché, but your folio is only as strong as its weakest image. And when culling images, always be ruthless.”