Art & Design

Meet Eugene Tan Of Aquabumps

By Ellie Schneider
20th Nov 2013

Shooting at daybreak has become Eugene Tan's morning ritual. He's had a camera in hand since he was a nine-year-old and been a keen surfer for more than 26 years.

After quitting his day job at age 30, Eugene started a photographic email, sending it out to a handful of friends. His Aquabumps blog now attracts more than 40,000 daily subscribers, occupies a thriving beachside gallery, and has been transformed into a striking photography book A Day At Bondi.

We caught up with Eugene to find out more about his art and get his invaluable photography tips.

TUL: Can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Eugene Tan: I've always been very interested in photography. I started the old-school way, ya know? In the dark room with chemicals. Then when digi hit in the mid-90s, that really pumped up my enthusiasm to shoot more . . . it was (and still is) so exciting.

TUL: How would you describe your style?
Eugene: Casual, spontaneous, salt-crusted, using only natural ingredients (e.g. natural light).

TUL: You are taking part in the O'Neill 'Lose Yourself Somewhere' photography exhibition at 107 Projects in December. How did you interpret the campaign?
Eugene: For me it was all about beach. I am a beach and surf addict. When I want to lose myself somewhere I hit the beach whether it's crowded Bondi with 50,000 (The Colours of Bondi) or the quiet of being on a remote beach in Victoria (1st Light Johanna Beach Victoria).

TUL: You started surfing at the age of three—where are your top surfing spots around Sydney?
Eugene: I surf Bondi most days as I live and shoot here . . . but I also love surfing the Northern Beaches, as I reluctantly admit the waves are much better there. We are so lucky to have so many choices of where to surf in Sydney. I love surfing Whale Beach and Avalon . . . good waves.

TUL: Do you have a favourite photograph?
Eugene: It changes a lot but at the moment is it this one shot at Waimea Bay Hawaii.

TUL: What's been the most challenging part of your career so far?
Eugene: Running a small photography business in Bondi, The Aquabumps Gallery is very challenging. We have five full-time staff and it's busy . . . real busy. It runs seven days a week so it's a challenge to find time for myself.

TUL: Any advice for budding photographers?
Eugene: Keep your eyes open for interesting light and situations. You want to shoot something that others haven't seen. Develop your own style and ideas and you will do well if you're passionate enough.

TUL: Can you tell us about your experiences shooting videos in Italy and New Zealand?
Eugene: Our trips are fun. I love them. It's pure focus on shooting which is rare for me. I've seen some amazing things on these travels and love how it refreshes my passion for photography. When I arrive at a new beach I feel like a kid in a candy store—assessing angles and ideas, working out what to shoot at different times of day.

TUL: Where do you like to kick off for afternoon drinks?
Eugene: The Bucket List on Bondi Beach has a pretty damn good view and the Coronas are cold. Icebergs is the same, but my favourite would have to be on the back of a boat anchored off a good surf break.

Aquabumps Gallery
151 Curlewis Street, Bondi Beach, NSW 2026
Phone: 02 9130 7788

Image credit: Eugene Tan, Colours Of Bondi

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