Deb Morris photographing the waves.
Deb Morris photographing the waves.

Deb’s miniature swells build a global career

FOR Yamba's Deb Morris, the perfect wave has good form, glassy in appearance, and is about 6-10 centimetres in height.

That's correct, centimetres.

The Yamba photographer has carved out her niche in the surfing industry capturing the tiny nuances of waves in the shallow, and she has been rewarded by being named a finalist in the Nikon Surf Photo Of The Year.

"This is the third year in a row in which I've been named a finalist," Deb said.

"The other photos are always of very large swells, with or without people, and then there's my work which is very left field."

The competition is coordinated with Surfing Australia, and judges come from all branches of the surfing world, with industry and media representatives, as well as current surfers such as Stephanie Gilmore.

Deb has always had an interest in waves and in trying to find a point of difference for her work discovered a love for the smallest movements in the ocean.

"I like capturing the things you don't see, the tiniest of movements go by so quickly and I think that's what makes the work stand out," she said.

"Also, I like the idea that people often don't realise what they're looking at - the small wave can look like a very big wave in a photo."

Deb shoots her wave miniatures in ankle to waist-deep water without any water protection housing on her camera, and while so far she's hasn't lost a camera to the sea, there are often some close calls in getting close to the waves.

"I rely a lot on my reflexes; to get the shot and then get the camera in the air above the waves," she said.

"I keep a watch in my peripheral vision to see where the waves are, and although sometimes you get caught by waves going back out, I've managed to get the camera above the waves all this time."

Deb's work has grown in stature over a short few years, with awards such the Nikon Surf Photo Awards bringing her to the attention of international galleries and exhibitions.

"I have work in galleries Sydney, Bells Beach and in America, and last year was shown in in South Korea, and this year in the Bordeaux Festival," she said.

"I also managed to get some work in an exhibition at the Smithsonian and got the cover of their magazine, which was great.

"I think that it's great to see the work getting out there, despite being the only woman included in what is a competitive and male-dominated industry."

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