People and Places
27/12/2019
From on the water to behind the lens

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Wes Bowler is captivated by the different moods of the ocean, from the tranquil water at sunset to the ferocious waves hammering the pilot boats as they go through the heads at Port Phillip Bay. After an unfortunate back injury and subsequent operation 20 years ago, Wes left his gardening business behind to pursue photography.

“I’d always been told I took great photos,” said Wes. “I’ve always loved photography, especially using film back in the day. Nowadays I use a Canon digital SLR.” 

Wes has been an avid surfer for 45 years. Now 56, he’s found the perfect way to combine his two loves — taking photographs of the ever-changing surf and the surfers catching the waves — because he’s still a grommet at heart. “I love the different moods of the ocean, the different waves and how light can change everything. Every day the ocean changes. It’s never the same.” 

Combining his passion for surfing and photography was a win-win for Wes, although pilot boats out in rough weather have become 70 per cent of the subjects he photographs because the larger waves call to him when it’s blowing a gale outside. In fact, he’ll head out in anything to get that magic shot — lightning storms included — because it’s ever so rewarding when he achieves it. Occasionally this means only finishing up with three useable shots from a whole night of shooting in the chilly wind. Although he’s based on the Bellarine Peninsula, Wes frequents the Mornington Peninsula chasing that perfect shot by the surf beaches or at the Point Nepean Quarantine Station. 

Exhibitions, markets, commissions, photography competitions and chasing that not-so-perfect wave keep this self-taught photographer out of trouble. Wes believes that it’s all about learning from your mistakes and networking with other photographers. He is forever upskilling. The thrill of people admiring his work is always a highlight, especially if the photograph is emotive and brings back fond memories for the viewer. 

To see more of Wes’s amazing shots, follow him on Instagram @lonniesnaps_photography
KATE SEARS

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