“To learn to sing below the surface, you must adjust your altitude.”
Fabian Coetzer has a very different take on photographing the ocean. The nuance and the light are sensitively captured in a way that brings a totally different perspective and view point. His pictures tell a story that goes way beyond the obvious of shooting high action from a fixed position on the beach.
I grew up in Port Elizabeth, schooled at Muir College & went on to study Human Resources Management at (old) PE Techikon.
I was always very arty & sporty – hockey (mainly), cricket, swimming & surfing – my old man surfed in his younger days so it was natural I suppose.
After schooling and studies I worked in retail, sales and supply chain management (SCM) before moving into SCM consulting until 2015 before embarking on freelance photography.
Funny story about how I got into photography – mid 2009 I joined my wife & family down in J-Bay for a long weekend, the Saturday morning I checked the surf & it’s flat…, so I tag along with my wife to the Boardriders store in Fountains Mall.
Anyone who remembers the store will remember that it had a skate bowl in the store – well I ended up breaking my wrist to the extent that I required surgery.
During my recovery I bought a Fuji Digital Bridge camera to photograph surfing – the bug bit! It wasn’t long after that I upgraded to my first SLR, a Canon 550D and a GoPro.
I did a Photography course but have honestly learnt more about photography through self education, being humble, open, willing to work with and learn from other photographers, most importantly then challenge your skills and work hard!
Up until a month ago my gear consisted of a Brother Housing (dome port, 50mm flat port & 200mm flat port); 2 x Canon 7D bodies and lenses including a Sigma 10-20mm f4; Sigma 10mm f2.8 Fisheye; Canon 15-85mm f4; Canon 50mm f1.8 and a Sigma 70-200mm f2.8.
I have subsequently upgraded to an Aquatech Housing (dome port, 80mm flat port & port extension ring) ; 1 x Canon 7D MarkII body and lenses excluding the Sigma 70-200mm.
So my setup at the moment is pretty much geared towards water photography – I use my fisheye + dome combo for underwater & barrel work, wide angle + dome/flat port for above water work and 50mm + flat port for medium range & arty work.
My preferred setup is the 50mm f1.8 as it’s so versatile – subject matter & light conditions.
The purpose of my photography is simply self preservation – without it I’d go insane.
Seriously though, I try to create images that provide viewers an insight into the beauty of the ocean and of surfing as a sport, art form & lifestyle, if that inspires just one person – no matter what that inspiration is, I’m happy!
What does the future hold? Remain humble, continue working hard and challenging myself, hopefully the pay off is more experiences – surf, travel & adventure!