FIG TREES ON MAIN ST
Wade Goodall reckons if all the surf photographers in the world lined up for a 100 meter race Duncan Macfarlane would win easy.
So says Earth traveller and freesurfboard-riding aficionado Wade Goodall of his friend and collaborator Duncan Macfarlane. The two met on a Surfing World trip to Angourie five years ago during the making of Goodsie's digital webisode masterpiece Creative Destruction, Dunc as the aspiring photographer, Wade as his shining muse. The bond was instant and lasting. “As a human, Dunc's quietly confident and he backs himself to get the job done. He wants to shoot well because he knows he can and working with someone who has that attitude is better than good. It's the best," says Wade.
Duncan grew up in the quiet Far North NSW coastal village of Sawtell and had dreams of taking out first prize at the town's annual Chilli Festival until photography came calling. As Goodall explains, “He has a unique understanding of composition and he blends a lot of landscape and environment into the action he shoots. He was onto that very early and that's why his career snowballed and he got so much work. I think his understanding of light is up there with the very best. It’s unusual to see someone develope such signature style so quickly.”
Wade believes Dunc (now 25) is just getting started and believes he has the temperament and attitude to become one of the great lensmen of surf. “He's always looking at ways to improve and for new inspiration. He seems like he's cruising but he's onto it. And you know he'll succeed because he's one of those guys who's good at everything. He'll pick up a banjo and fire off some hillbilly lead break and he has the sickest Larry on him too. He surfs as good as a lot of the guys he shoots.”
Talent, work ethic, a promising future and a mean facial rug. Is there no kink in this young man’s armour? I’m just glad he has a beard,” says Wade. “Because he’s good looking too and when he shaves it makes us all feel bad.”
One thing I know about Duncan is he's faster than he looks. He's one of the fastest runners I've seen."
SW: Dunc, tell us a bit about where you grew up. Sawtell right? What’s Sawtell’s big claim to fame? DM: Yeah man. I was born in Perth, moved to Sydney, did some time in Africa and the logical step after that was obviously Sawtell. That was all by age 10. Claim to fame? Ah… it’s got a pretty rad main street with some massive fig trees through it and a bunch of good cafes, restaurants and bars. It’s pretty sleepy though.
Tell us about your first camera? Chrissy pressie? You steal it out of your Mum’s bag? I bought an Old Nikonos V off Ebay for a few hundred bucks. I still have a photo off the first roll of film I ever shot on it. It’s one of those water proof cameras that don’t need a housing. I loaded the film and went out with it just frothing out of my grommet mind. The surf was so good too. Little slabby wedges in this corner. I was thinking I’d get covers for sure, but I didn’t load the film right and I exposed the same frame 24 times. So one frame was burnt to hell and the rest were unexposed. It’s hilarious. I ended up flooding that camera because I didn’t have any clue about water photography and painting water tight seals. Such an idiot, it was the best camera, now it’s a full time paper weight in my office.
Did you study photography at school? Pash any girls in the dark room? I wish. Nah, I didn’t study it at school, I wish I did. I just shot my mates and went from there. After school I travelled and shot for a year or so, then went to the Goldy to study photography at Uni but didn’t last long there. I dropped out after two weeks to shoot more photos.
When did you begin to feel photography turn from a hobby into a passion. What was the exact moment? It was whenever I’d get rolls of film I’d shot on those waterproof disposable cameras back from the chemist.seeing what you missed and what you nailed. No better feeling.
When did get your first shot published? It was a spread of Ozzie that I shot at Canggu the year after I finished school. There’s all these Indonesians crowding around this nearly drowned German lady in the foreground on the beach and Ozzie’s in the background doing a steezy little double grab. I wrote a 500 word story on it too.
It was a rapid rise for you after that, how quickly did your life change? I wouldn’t say it was all that rapid… First shot I had published was the year after I finished school. I was still working as a receptionist at the school. It was a pretty dumb move. Spending 12 years trying to get out of school then going back to work there. So I got a couple of shots published that year, went travelling the next year solo, then the following year went to the Goldy to go to uni and dropped out after two weeks to chase surf photography. Spent a couple of years flapping around getting the odd little job and started shooting with Wade Goodall and that led me to Billabong which lead me to Surfing Magazine. From, there though things started moving very quickly.
What gear do you use now? 80 per cent Nikon. 10 per cent iphone. 5 per cent Leica film camera. 5 per cent Canon point and shoot.
Everyone is a photographer now but what’s the secret to developing your own style and standing out? It’s all about the Instagram filters. Top secret post production techniques. Nah, I love going in the opposite direction to what other people are doing. I mean, shit, I I don’t do that a lot of the time if I’m working for a client, but I swear that whenever I do it will result in something that I’m personally stoked on. Doing whatever you’re stoked on no matter how shit everyone else thinks it is... That’s the way to go.
Who are your favourite photogs right now? Oh man, there’re so many goodies. Corey Wilson is the best dude and he has been slaying it the last few years. Always loved Trent Mitchell’s work. Those crazy heavy water dudes swimming in the big stuff like Zak Noyle, Pat Stacy, Brent Bielmann. Jon Frank’s the best photographer too, anyone who reads this mag knows that...
Who do you love shooting? I love shooting my friends and anyone who is psyched to shoot. Wade, Rasta, Creed, Ryan, and Jack Free, who I’ve been shooting since I started.
Are you one of those guys who complains about how many photogs there are now, or are you down with it? I don’t care bout that shit. I’m doing my thing, they’re doing theirs ( laughs). Im down with it!
What’s next? Reckon you’ll keep shooting surfing forever? I’ll keep doing this until someone realises I’ve got not idea what I’m doing or until I get replaced by full time drones patrolling the beach. I get paid to travel with my mates, sip beers on the beach and take photos of it all. It’s a joke! A beautiful joke!
"Doing whatever you're stoked on no matter how shit everyone else thinks it is...that's the way to go"
Fourth Spread: Ryan Callinan throwing buckets in the land where the wild things are. Fifth spread: A little collage of light and colour starring Rasta, Shun Manners, Creedley, Dunc Mcnicol, Bryce Young and Ry Cal. Previous spread: Dane Gudauskas tapping Agro’s Cartoon Connection.