VICTORIAN GIRLS PHOTO SERIES – FINAL CUT

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After a few months of continuous shoots, early mornings & plenty of laughs, my photo documentary exploring the lives of three surfing talents on the Mornington Peninsula has been completed! Attached is an article piece and the final documentary images, I hope it gives you a little insight into some very special lives. Enjoy!

A smile. A cheeky, natural and glowing phenomenon that is triggered by moments of love. Your belly warms up, eyes dancing and your mind is no longer thinking of anything else. Time stands still. You’re basked in content and happiness, nothing could bring you down. A moment so worthwhile, it’s best shared with friends. A smile can happen for different reasons, and everyone knows their own. And each morning, as a pink and orange glow blankets the awakening rumbling sea, three young girls on the south coast of Victoria gaze upon their reason to smile. The ocean.

Like most things in life, the ability to surf isn’t something you’re born with. It’s an acquired skill that starts from a young age. And like surfing, friendship needs its foundations. Tabby Vockler, Matilda Mclellan and Ginny Hodgkinson know these two things extremely well. Bought together by their shared love of surfing, these girls are ones to look out for. Each unique in their own way and all taught the beauty of surfing by their parents, they are pathing the way for likeminded, healthy and adventurous teenage girls. It’s a common ground for each of them, and hopefully others of the same age will cast this individuality on their own endeavors. Both Tabby & Matilda compete on a regular basis and dominate the local competitions, whilst Ginny is more relaxed in her approach and is just happy to be out there. One thing is for sure; their smiles from the water are contagious.

Tabby Vockler is a fierce 17 year old. She’s known for her feisty and powerful approach to the wave, and her long blonde locks make her easy to spot. Surfing hasn’t always been her number one sport, with snowboarding at the forefront in her earlier years. Dedicated is an understatement for Tabby: you’ll see her down the surf nearly every day, with her family supporting her endeavors one hundred percent. The pressures of juggling Year 12 and a growing surfing career are difficult, but Tabby is doing it with grace and style. Another Mornington Peninsula local is Matilda Mclellan. Having just finished high school, Matilda finally has the time and energy to wholly apply herself to her surfing. Her glowing smile and sweet nature are transformed into explosive action out in the water, and she’ll paddle into anything, no fear holding her back. Ginny Hodgkinson is one girl who always has a smile on her face. Her laidback and relaxed nature is infectious, and you can tell she feels completely at home out in the water. Her creativity shows in her surfing, and her talents in photography and art are simply incredible. Individuality shines within these girls, and what they are doing is something truly special.

Being a girl surfer definitely has its perks, but it’s not always pretty. The lineup is flooded full of bustling, hungry men, with surfing for the most part of its time, being considered a male sport. Wetsuits are the furthest thing to a dress, and if you’re out there, you’re considered one of the guys. The ‘ladies first’ rule goes out the window. Respect in the water is hard enough to gain, yet alone for a woman, so at times, the lineup is a challenging place. And that’s what surfing is, essentially a solo sport, every man or woman for themselves. But a lingering, silent bond between them is something you can only feel out in the water. And it translates in every language; shared in every country and every break you surf.

Healthy eating and fitness is an important part of surfing, and Tabby, Matilda and Ginny seek this as something far from a chore. Their friendship is shared through regular catch-ups, surfing and making healthy treats. They believe in putting the right foods in their bodies to get maximum gain from their surfing and wellbeing, an initiative only bought on by themselves. It’s an integral part of their friendship and having spent time with them recently, they have a lot of fun with it. Motivating and inspiring each other, the vibe between them is electric, laughter their common gesture. This type of approach to surfing is different and relatively new, as the surfing world is transforming from something of an amateur, leisure sport to a really professional industry. The female surf industry is having the largest growth of all, and the idea of the increasing femininity amongst the world’s top female surfers is being widely applauded. Girls like Gin, Matilda and Tab are taking on these roles and encouraging others to do so themselves. It sheds light on your own passions and could drive anyone to chase their own dreams.

There’s a reason why I want to bring you their story. It’s something you have to see for yourself. Sure, there are lots of young girls taking up surfing all around the country, and that’s very encouraging to see. But these three have a point of difference. They’re unafraid to brave the stereotypes. They’re doing their own thing with flare and individuality, competing against the boys, yet still dating them, making the ocean their fuel and seeking happiness because of it. It’s a rare combination you’ll only see in the bravest of individuals, chasing what makes them happy and leaving nothing behind.

To a non-surfer, it may all seem quite dull, fictional almost. But what’s life without passion. Their story is inspiring. These girls have found their niche, together, and have found a simple bond that will carry them through life. This isn’t a story purely about surfing; it’s a look into the lives of females who are brave and passionate. The ocean their playground, and each other their guidance. It’s an enduring quality, to have passion for something, and only those seeking a rich and fulfilling life will chase after that. It a simple recipe that these three, and so many others, are finding out in the ocean.

Matilda, Tabby & Ginny are three brave girls. They know that they love surfing, the ocean, and the friendship they share with each other. It takes real courage to chase after something you love. It takes a smile, that cheeky, natural and glowing phenomenon that is triggered by moments of love, to realize what it’s all about in the first place.

Cait Miers

www.caitmiers.tumblr.com | @caits92

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