CCP asks Nick Holton aka "Salty Seadog" the deep questions about his craft.
1. What gets you out of bed every day?
Being lucky enough to live on the doorstep of Bronte Beach, the ocean. Whether being in the water, on the beach or in the skies above with my drone, there’s always something special to see. In these winter months the ocean really puts on a show with crystal clear waters, pumping swell and, of course, incredible wildlife.
2. Who is the photographer that has inspired you the most?
I guess being of a (just about) the Instagram generation and the early days of drone a lot of my recent inspiration came from Australian ocean drone photographers, such as Jaimen Judson and underwater photographers such as Alex Kydd & Jake Wilton, both of whom are based on the Ningaloo.
There are lots of Australian photographers that inspire me in fact, Craig Parry (wildlife), Ray Collins (seascape) and Sean Scott (travel) area few others.
I’m also constantly in awe of wildlife photographers such as Paul Nicklen, Bertie Gregory and Brian Skerry. Domenic Biagini “dolphindronedom” is also a drone photographer/videographer in the US who captures the most incredible scenes.
3. What current camera are you shooting with?
I fly with a Mavic 3, shoot with a Fuji X-T4 (an X-T30 when in the water)
4. When you are on a shoot do you play music? What other essential items do you have with you for a successful session?
I play music at every possible moment, so I’m typically no different when shooting, although I do like to enjoy the sounds of the ocean, especially for a peaceful sunrise or sunset.
Other essential items are probably camera gear related – you never know what you might find in the ocean so a pair of swimmers and the underwater housing are always close-to-hand!
5. In the digital world how important is the print?
I think it’ll always be important, there’s nothing like seeing that special moment in supersize on beautiful stock. It also gives a rare opportunity to see a photo in landscape orientation away from a phone screen!
6. B/W - Colour - Analogue - Digital.
Put these words in your order of preference and tell us why.
Each has its time and place – I shot on film for a while and you can’t match the emotion of a film shot but ultimately the flexibility and convenience of shooting digital made too much sense…you’d also struggle to shoot from the sky with film! I’ve put colour first (despite one of my favourite ever photos being B/W) because you can’t beat the colours of the ocean, whether the deep blue depths, the turquoise shallows or a classic Sydney sunrise reflecting off and ocean pool.
7. Have you exhibited your work, and other than the print, how important was the framing process to you?
The framing process is critical, when I first started out I was cutting corners to save $ by buying cheap frames and attempting to frame prints myself - the outcome was so underwhelming, especially after the hours that go in to getting the shot. I ultimately want something I’m immensely proud to exhibit and that means getting everything just right, from the photo, to the editing, the printing and, of course, the framing.
8. What defines a great image?
I think the first goal is to stir emotion in whoever views your image. Being a lover of the ocean, one of Salty Sea Dog’s visions is to “Spread love for our oceans and bring them into our homes”, so inspiring that love is key to my photography. Shooting an awe-inspiring wildlife encounter or scene and capturing it in a wall-worthy still frame is the challenge that I thrive off.
The hope is that the more ocean lovers we have in the world, the more voices we’ll have to save our precious oceans.
9. What is your favourite photo that you have taken? Why?
Although I’d hope that I’ve not yet taken my favourite photo, there are two that spring to mind, The Salty Skull & Midnight Manta. These are two that I’m proud of because they depict are unique micro-moments in nature that are a reward for patience, consistency and perseverance.
10. What is the best photography advice you have been given? Tell us by who if you can or want to?
I can’t think of one specific piece of advice but I’ve learnt so much from my dad when I was growing up, photographers met through Instagram and YouTube, which has such a wealth of knowledge for those keen to “self-teach”.
11. When you are not taking photos, what are you doing?
At the moment, wedding planning! But otherwise I make sure I enjoy the things I love taking photos of, so spend plenty of time on the coast - surfing, snorkelling and exploring the coast.
Nick Holton aka "Salty Seadog" - July 2022