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“Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.” – Oscar Wilde  

In this series we shine a light on artists expressing their individuality, documenting what they love, working hard on their craft, and sharing it with the world.  

 Oscar Hetherington is a Wanaka-raised surf and ocean photographer currently based in Dunedin to study and work. Although he loves the ocean and surf culture of Dunedin, he's spent the majority of his life in Wanaka and he calls both towns home.


Oscar picked up an old family camera when he was about 12 years old, and just took photos of things he and his mates got up to. 

It was just a fun thing to do, showing people photos of places they'd gone and things they'd done. Then, aged about 16, he was asked to photograph a mountain bike race, and the feedback got him taking it more seriously. Now he says it's "awesome" combining fun with his work. 


"I guess I just started doing a few small jobs, and that slowly picked up, and I got offered more work, and it just kind of evolved naturally into where I am today. I just did what I loved a lot" 


Oscar's main focus currently is the ocean and its many aspects. Surfing, storms, empty waves, abstract imagery underwater, basically anything ocean-related.  

He sees his point of difference as being original, organic and natural. "I've always just wanted to keep what's in front of the lens real and natural, and be creative in the way I shoot..." 


He wants the message in an image to be strong but simple. "I always like to spend a few more minutes finding that different angle or adjusting my settings to capture and create something unique." 

Oscar gets his inspiration from other artists, whether musicians, other photographers or film makers — anyone who approaches things differently — as well as the people, landscapes and culture around him. 


"If I get into a creative rut I don't push it. I've learnt that you can't force creativity, and it's even hard to teach it. Sometimes I won't pick up my camera for a month and other times I'll be shooting like crazy for weeks. Often all it takes is a small moment in a film or something I read, and I'm ready to go and create."


We liked the simple advice Oscar says he lives by. "While you're sleeping someone else is working hard. So don't waste time, take every opportunity you're given and you'll find that eventually hard work will pay off. Also, just do what you enjoy, what makes you happy, and don't worry what others think about your work. Photography is art, and art is subjective, so not everyone will like what you're creating. 


"I'm probably most proud of my photo 'Backwash', which won the 2020 Sony Alpha Awards Grand Prize. The image is a personal favourite of mine, and I'm proud of getting such high recognition for a photo that was taken solely for fun."


"A lot of the work I share is passion-based, so when something that I've worked at for a while gets noticed at such a high level I am incredibly honoured. It kind of enforces the idea that hard work pays off. 

I'm also proud of that image as it was taken a few days after the lockdown ended in New Zealand. It had been an idea for a while, and to have everything finally line up and to capture it was awesome in itself." 


You can find more of Oscar's work on his Instagram or website. 
Charlotte x 

This entry was posted in Your Stories by Charlotte Baugh | Leave a Comment