I remember the first time I walked into the Saltmotion Gallery in Manly, NSW. My eyes lit up like a kid in a candy store. Every wall was draped in some of the most beautiful images I have ever seen. Maybe my reaction might have been a bit exaggerated due to my fond relationship with surf and coastal culture, however I'm confident that those that don't have a similar connection will still be just as impressed.
The person who caused my star-struck state is Mr Joel Coleman, a man who after picking up his first camera in high school art class, hasn't looked back since and due to his persistence and passion has now been able to make photography his full-time career.
After gathering myself back together to take a closer look around his gallery, I notice more than just amazing photos. Everything has a strong sustainability element to it. The merchandise is made from 100% organic cotton, the furniture/fittings is up-cycled timber, even when I pick up a business card I notice printed in the corner 'made from 100% recycled paper'. So you can imagine my delight when I received an email back from Joel agreeing to catch-up for a coffee.
Once we have a chat about how the surfs been and how the surf's is going to be, the conversation takes a diversion into how surfing, although certainly one of the lesser offenders, isn't as 'natural' as most people make it out to be.
'We claim to be this ultimate eco sport, where it's just a person and a wave in nature. Realistically though, we are making surfboards from petrol based chemicals and wetsuits made from non-biodegradable glues and rubbers. We often drive long distances in vehicles the aren't the most fuel efficient. Sure it's more environmentally friendly than racing motorcars, but it's still got a pretty heavy footprint."
I nod in agreement with a lump of guilt in my throat, however Joel is soon to put my mind at ease when he follows up with some word's of advice and how he trys to apply it into his business as well.
The philosophy I keep coming back to is that; if you can't make it green, make it last. Instead of buying a new wetsuit every season, pay a little more and buy one that will last you two or three seasons. We try to take this same approach with Saltmotion too, we'll choose materials/products that have the least impact on the environment and if we can't find one that fits that 'green' credential, we'll go for the one we know is going to last the longest"
Joel then makes a point that particularly strikes a chord with me about the common misconception that buying 'green' is more expensive.
"It's often more cost effective to choose a more sustainable option. Take for example lighting, you might need to spend about 30% more upfront, but that light globe will last you 80% longer than a cheaper alternative. Buying your cleaning products from an organic Co Op, where you take your own container back to them to be refilled, is cheaper than buying the other stuff from Coles".
It's this type of thinking and approach that has enabled Joel to make his life's passion his career. Looking long-term and not settling for the easier, cheaper option. Just take a look at some of his work and imagine the amount of time and effort it would of taken to capture such remarkable moments. Joel is quick to add another key element to his success...
"Persistence. Just persist. Because there was so many times, I mean so many times where I could of just thrown my hands in the air and go 'It's just not worth it'... yeah you'll have to do everything on your own when starting out, but don't be discouraged by that, get excited by it."
Joel has now built Saltmotion to a level where his daily email is now sent to tens of thousands of eager subscribers waiting for their dose of visual bliss. His work is sought after all around the world from Russia to Canada and he gets paid to shoot surfers in some of the most beautiful locations on earth. You'd certainly allow a little bit of gloating from someone who has achieved these types of milestones, but Joel simply shrugs his shoulders and says to me that he's just doing what he loves to do. Surely it can't be that easy Joel... or maybe it can...
At the end of the email I send out everyday I sign off with 'enjoy your day', because if you're in a situation where you're not enjoying your day, you've got to fix that and you're the only person that can do that.