Part 4 – How it all began
Combine cartoons with photos?
I’d never seen it done before, but I had seen Roger Rabbit as a kid, so I knew there was some kind of genre there, but even if there wasn’t one, I could create one.
And if there was something I wanted to do in my teen years it was to be a Photographer…..
Now we need to journey back 20 years or so.
At the tender age of 13 my family holiday destination was Maslin’s Beach.
I was familiar with the ocean, we lived across the road from the beach in Redcliffe QLD when I was 8 years old. I had learned to swim at the age of 3 and loved ever second in the water.
So the trip to Maslins listening to Red Hot Chilli Peppers and being stoked the horrible Grade 8 was over meant it was time to rest and party.
Well as hard as a 13 year old can party.
We went to the beach and amazingly there were actually waves. I loved the waves. So I asked my Mum if I could have a bodyboard. Sure enough, we were at the shops that arvo and I had my very own foamy boogie board.
I was chuffed.
All I wanted to do the rest of the trip was be in the ocean.
I even went out at Moana where it was a little bigger and thought I was going to drown.
I didn’t drown….. which was good.
But I was hooked.
My twin brother Ben also started, which was awesome because we could talk about it and rev each other up.
Then the school holidays ended and it was back to the North Eastern Suburbs of Adelaide, an hour away from any waves.
I decided- I was not going to let the distance stop me from pursuing my new passion.
The amazing thing was, that year I befriended a bloke named Adam Longbottom, whose parents had a shack at Victor Harbour. So they would take us to stay there, and we would bodyboard every chance we could get.
The very same holidays I found my new passion, so did my good mate Mick Dean. I told him I’d started surfing. He was stoked because those holidays he had also taken to the water.
A crew was slowly forming.
We all bought Bodyboard Magazines, videos and took turns going all the way to Victor Harbour with each other’s parents, and even taking busses and trains on our own all the way to the Mid Coast. Sometimes we would walk for hours in the sweltering heat because the busses weren’t going.
By the age of 15 we had a large group of blokes who were all stoked on Surfing and Bodyboarding. We would stay at each other’s houses and talk about how amazing the waves would be the next day, and to us they always were…. we couldn’t sleep for hours getting excited about surfing.
And it was also at the age of 15 I went to stay with my Dad, and he gave me one of the best gifts I had ever been given.
His old Pentax SLR camera which he had stored away in the shed. He dusted it off and showed me how to use it…… well roughly, I still had to figure most of it out myself.
There was only one thing I wanted to take photos of……
Every chance I had, I would take photos of waves. Especially my favourite wave Knights Beach, which we found through the Riptide Magazine’s yearly annual, with a photo of Nick Saunders in a huge barrel taken by the late Mike Holiday.
If there was something I wanted to do, it was take photos of this incredibly heavy wave.
My first time surfing there I almost drowned, but I knew I had to break my fear and ‘get back on my horse’ so to speak so I went out at a smaller break around the corner at Horseshoe Bay.
There was no way I was going to quit.
So Knights Beach became my passion also, and I was desperate to share that passion with others, and thats how photography became yet another passion.
I would try to shoot first before going out for my own waves or wait till after I’d surfed.
In Grade 11 I even studied Photography at school, I loved the dark room because I could tweak the images to how I wanted them. Of course this was the same year Windows ’95 came out, but who knew at the time that digital photography would soon flood the photography world like it did many years later?
Shooting film made me have to get the shot right every time. Photography back then was so much more valuable because of the cost. If you messed up the shot, there was a cost. Very different to digital. I also didn’t want to edit them.
Of course when enlarging I could still do slight crops etc but I didn’t focus too much on the developing, only on the shooting.
Anyone who has studied the art of developing knows there’s no feeling like seeing your own image slowly coming out on the print before your eyes.
I still shot lot’s of colour film, which cost money to get developed, but if it was waves, it was worth every cent! My first job working in a nightclub called ‘The Village Tavern’ funded my surf trips and photography printing.
We also used the Kodak waterproof disposable cameras in the water…. again, the thought of actually shooting with my SLR camera in the water never entered my mind.
Soon all the guys had cars, and it was surf trips almost every weekend.
I decided that if I was going to go to University, the only subject I would actually want to study was Photography.
At the end 10th Grade with the aid of the Course Counselor, I chose to study both Physics and Chemistry in years 11 and 12, because that’s what the book recommended for Photography at University.
I’ll say that again…… Luke Greaves…… studying Physics and Chemistry….. in Grade 11 and 12.
Biggest mistake ever.
Here’s a creative guy, now studying two subjects that he not only had no interest in…. He was completely useless at.
Not once was I asked, “Why are you doing this subject Luke?” or “How does this line up where you want to go in life?”
No…… It was only recommended…. Physics for ‘Light’ and Chemistry for ‘Developing’ in Photography.
They weren’t prerequisites. They were only ‘recommended’.
Of course it meant I failed the only subject I ever failed in my school life…. Physics.
So….. That’s it then?
No point trying hard at school now….. may as well do easy subjects and just scrape through hey?
So I thought.
Consequently my Year 12 consisted in simple subjects (for me) and creative subjects.
One subject I look back on now and am stoked I studied it, was typing. I learned to touch type without any desire to ever use it….
Now, I’m very very glad I did.
My final year of High School was now focused on one thing….
Getting it over with.
There were waves and photos to be taken, so if I couldn’t ever be a Professional, then I was going to float through life, take it easy and think nothing of my future.
Surf trips were the only events I looked forward to. We would drive down South or to Yorkes and sometimes even interstate.
Above – On this trip moving from QLD to SA I decided I would never work full-time.. the idea lasted only a few days of being in SA before I went for a job in the Holdens Factory… still to this day the only full time job I have ever had… 8 years to the day. Below- an East Coast Trip
I found myself loving taking the lifestyle photos as well as the waves eventually… I would ask the guys to pose for me, or ‘sit over there’ to make it look like Surf Magazine lifestyle photos. I would set the camera up, ask one of them to take it exactly how I wanted it, then I would run over to be in the shot.
One of my brothers mates recently told me he remembers coming over to our house one day and I was hiding in a bush waiting to take a photo of something, so when he drove up to our house, I took a snap of him getting out of his car….. He still has it on his fridge some 18 or so years later!
Learning to backflip in a pool because the waves were too far away! Age 19 I asked my mate Andy to take it.
My collection of photos was huge. Sometimes people would ask for the negatives to print off one of my photos…. but very rarely were they returned. Looking back I wish someone told me it was possible to sell my photos even if I wasn’t a professional, but all I ever knew was being employed. Entrepreneurship had never entered my mind, and was never once in my whole 13 years of schooling offered it as an option.
You study to get a job…..
Not create a job….. for yourself or others.
Getting back to the topic……..Photography was purely an art, an extension of my eye, a way to express how I saw life and the things that meant a lot to me…..
But that was soon to change….
To be continued……
Confused? Read Parts 1-3 by clicking below