Ben Bugden

Please introduce yourself in 20 words or less.

A restless and reserved creative from Byron Bay that’s not happy unless he is submerged in saltwater once a day.

Was photography your first career choice?

 No, but I’ve always loved photography. I was obsessed with it in high school and loved the process of working in a darkroom. Back then I never really considered it as a career choice. I also really loved graphic design, and that’s what I chose to study because that’s where I thought the money and a ‘real career’ was.

ben Bugden-Ours-Caoe Solander

How did you go from photography being a hobby to doing it full time?

Funnily enough it was the Graphic Design that led me back to photography. I got a job at Tracks Magazine as a designer, and part of my role was to also act as photo editor. As soon as I began looking at the transparencies on the lightbox taken by all these epic photographers of my favourite surfers in exotic locations, the bug bit again. This was in 2005, right as digital hit the market, which made it slightly more accessible for me and I slowly got back into it. I ended up going back to study photography on the side, and eventually I ended up shooting for the magazine.

 What is the favourite part of your work?

 Definitely being outside in the elements and capturing images of what I love. Fresh air and salt water are much more preferable to fluorescent lights and stale air-conditioning. I also love that electric feeling when everything comes together when you’re shooting. When you’re creating something you’re truly stoked on. It’s a rush.

Ben Bugden-textured- waves 

Over the last few years what type of photography work have you been doing?

 I’ve been shooting editorial for Tracks, but I’ve also been focused on my water textures, which is where my passion really lies. I’ve been lucky enough to sell a few prints, have a few shows and manage to wrangle a few stockists here and there.

 Are there any projects you are working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on a few ideas for an upcoming exhibition (can’t say too much here), which I hope to use as a platform to raise awareness for a few charities. I’ve just re-built my website and store, and am working on a more commercially minded photography venture with my wife.


What type of gear are you using at the moment and what is the one piece of equipment you wished you had?

 At the moment I’m using a combo of a Canon 1DX and 5D mk III, for which I have a Salty Surf Housing and Aquatech housing respectively. In the water I run the Canon 24-70mm f2.8 II and a 70-200mm f4.

I’m currently in the process of dipping my toe into the world of mirrorless though, so my dream setup there would be the Fujifilm X-T2 and battery grip, paired with the 56mm 1.2

I’d also love to get my hands on a Canon 1V and a housing to try my hand at a bit more film work.

 When excites you about travel and photography?

 Travel is all about being inspired by new surroundings and environments. This goes hand in hand with being creative, especially as photographers. When you are inspired the creativity flows. There’s no better way to get that happening than to travel.


What are your sources of inspiration and do you ever go through times when you think “lets move on from this type of work”?

 The inspiration for my work stems from a childhood spent in the ocean. It was pivotal in shaping me as a person. Even in my earliest memories – sitting on the beach with mum eating fresh apricots, the shimmering surface of the water and its cool relief, lying in the rain at the Pass curled up in Dad’s boardbag waiting for him to come in, the cool kiss of water droplets during a winter surf. When added up all those small moments made me who I am. In my work I try to capture a tactile, emotional and textural representation of this.

I definitely have periods of low motivation, and it’s important to take a break every now and then if you can. Go and shoot something else purely for fun, then come back to it. The tap will turn on again.

 What is the worst piece of advice you have heard given to someone that wants to make a career out of photography?

 Probably just other photographers trying to discourage kids from pursuing it, telling them the market’s flooded, implying that if you weren’t around when you had to shoot film you’ll never be a real photographer. That argument is getting really old. Also not sharing any wisdom. If you love it, then do it. Weren’t they a kid who wanted to be a photographer once too?

Ben-Bugden-photography-black and White-wave-texture 

What is the one aspect you find the most difficult about running a photographic business?

 Definitely the marketing and promotional side. I really need to fine-tune that part of my act. That’s what brings in the money, but I find it really hard to promote myself.

 If there was one destination you could travel to and photograph where would it be?

 I’m a full space geek. So I’d love to go to an observatory, probably in Chile or Hawaii and try my hand at some astrophotography between surfing. That would blow my mind.

Where can we follow your work?

Website    Instagram