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He traverses the globe like it's his front yard. Hangs with some of the best surfers in the world on a daily basis. And swigs Bintang like it was his formula as a baby. He's a flash photography wizard and has always been at the forefront of revolutionary techniques in photography. Whether it's in his backyard in Newport or in the depths of Indonesia, you can count on Tom to come home with the goods, which is why we here at SURFING are so excited to have him on board.
SURFING MAGAZINE: WHERE YOU FROM, TOM?
TOM CAREY: I live in the Volcom team house in Newport Beach, CA. But I grew up in Seal Beach and all of my family still lives there. I even wake up there from time to time.
HOW DID YOU START SHOOTING PHOTOS?
My friends that I grew up with were pretty good surfers and I had access to a few cameras so it just kind of made sense.
DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO DO THIS?
When I first picked up a camera at the age of 12 or so I was hooked. From then on I knew it's what I wanted to do. I've had some doubts along the way but I think I'm in this for the long haul now.
YOU'VE WORKED WITH VOLCOM FOR A LONG TIME, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS THAT HAVE COME FROM THAT RELATIONSHIP?
I'd say I'm pretty set up anywhere I go. From the house I'm at now in Newport to the Pipe Houses in Hawaii. I'm really stoked to be working with those guys. They help out with equipment and anything else I need. And they're just a bunch of really good guys over there. They're the best company to work.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE IN THE WORLD TO BE?
I just got back from the Sunshine Coast a month ago and that was one of the funnest trips ever. I could definitely live there. Everyone is so laid back and you can pretty much get away with murder there. Other than that anywhere I go that's new is always exciting.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO SHOOT PHOTOS?
I dig a lot of spots. Obviously Indo is great and so easy to shoot. The guys that live over there have got it made. I love going to Nicaragua, too but I think it's going to get really crowded like Costa Rica soon. So enjoy it while it lasts. I love going to this little spot in Mexico too, that I won't name. It's such a perfect left with some other fun waves around it too. And I just had an insane trip to Samoa too. That place is so sick. Perfect waves, nice people, and cheap beer. Oh and the fishing is mental, too.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO COME WORK AT SURFING MAGAZINE?
Probably so that I can get away with making fun of Jimbro Wilson some more. [Laughs] SURFING just felt like the best home for my style of photography. I just see my shots finding a home a bit easier at SURFING too. Plus the mag is solid and so are the dudes that work there.
WHAT DO YOU PLAN ON BRINGING TO THE MAGAZINE?
Hopefully my own little niche. I think my flash work is better than ever and the whole digital thing makes everything so fun and easy. I think I'm a much better photographer because of the digital camera.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE SUBJECTS?
My favorite subject is probably Ozzie Wright. He works really hard, catches more waves than anyone and he straight up rips. One foot or eight foot, Ozzie surfs circles around people. He's so underrated in my book.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PHOTO OF ALL TIME?
Probably the shot of Archy that's on the cover of his new documentary. Or the turn of Tommy Curren at Backdoor.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PHOTO YOU'VE SHOT?
My favorite shot is probably the one of Bruce pulling into the shorebreak at Waimea during the Eddie contest. I was probably one of the only dudes that got that angle. I think it's kind of historic. That type of shit doesn't happen very often. Contests are usually so boring to me.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO IMPROVE ON WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY THAT YOU THINK BEING A PART OF THE MAGAZINE CAN HELP WITH?
The range of surfers that I shoot. I have some good surfers that I shoot with a lot but I need to widen my selection a bit. I think also it helps to be critiqued by a photo editor. That's something I've missed since being a freelance dude for so long. Pete Taras is really good at giving constructive criticism and I can't wait to learn everything I can while I'm at the mag.
WHAT ARE YOU GETTING UP TO FIRST?
I'm heading back to Bali in a week to meet up with Dusty Payne and Jay Quinn during that Oakley Junior contest. That should be fun even though Bali is so played out. Other than that I have a couple ideas of some new shit that I can bring to surf photography but they're so expensive and dangerous that it might take a while to implement.
HAS PETE [SURFING Photo Editor Pete Taras] PUT YOU TO WORK YET?
Not really. He's probably sick of me right about now. I've bombarded him with so many photos lately. But he doesn't have to put me to work. I love my job so I'm constantly shooting.