My Story: GT Magazine Feature
August 28th 2021
Photo by @belindabaggs
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Anglesea Lifestyle, Fashion and Surf Photographer Zoe Strapp is braving freezing cold ocean temperatures this September to raise money for a worthwhile cause, writes Tessa Hayward.
Surfing every day for the month of September is a bold challenge on the Surf Cost. But Anglesea photographer Zoe Strapp is doing it for the cause.
She will be braving the on average 13-14c ocean temperatures as part of the SurfAid x Billabong Make A Wave campaign to help raise funds towards basic health care, clean water, sanitation and food security for remote surfing communities across the world.
As an ambassador for the campaign, Zoe has been getting the word out and about via her Instagram platform, where she has more than 10,000 followers.
"Having personally travelled to these remote surfing communities, I recognise the difference this support can make and am truly honoured to have the opportunity to give back," she says.
"I've travelled allot to Indonesia and the Phillipines and the people are so beautiful and happy but they are lacking sanitation and clean water access. It is eye-opening".
Funds raised from this campaign will go to isolated villages, including in the Mentawai islands, where the maternal and child mortality rates are some of the highest in the world.
Having been in the photography business for almost two years, not only does Zoe use social media to advertise her business but she want to be able to use her platform for something bigger than herself.
While the majority of people in Victoria shiver just thinking about hopping in the ocean in September, Zoe admits to being out there most days anyway, albeit in a wetsuit.
"It is pretty cold this time of year," she laughs.
She plans to either surf or take her camera out in the ocean to shoot every day in September.
Ocean photography is a big passion of hers since taking the leap of faith and becoming a full-time photographer in 2019.
Zoe says photography was always an interest of hers but never thought it could be more than that and now that it is her career she focuses on lifestyle, fashion and surf photography.
With an undeniable passion for it, the 28-year-old's work has continued to grow and develop, accompanying her love for the ocean, travel and sustainable living.
As a surfer, ocean advocate and all-round explorer, her goal is to inspire others by capturing those unique, in-between moments that make up life, places and people.
"The ocean has always been a place of calmness and joy for me, so it was inevitable that i was going to integrate photography into my ocean adventures".
Growing up on a 10-acre property in Berwick on the outskirts of Melbourne, Zoe didn't know what career path she would follow after finishing school.
"For me it has been a lot of trial and error. I did lots of creative subjects at school and somehow diverted into a bachelor of Environmental Science and Conservation degree from Deakin University followed by a post graduate in Marketing and Communication from RMIT," she explains.
She even started her own swimwear label Akua Oceanwear a few years ago.
"It has been a journey to find out what I want to do. Akua was an amazing learning curve and perspective on the industry but it made me realise I wanted to create and not sell," she says.
Zoe's passion for photography was always there. She always has access to a camera as a kid, from her family video camera, to an Apple iPod nano with video camera, to an old SLR camera.
"I never has good quality equipment until the past two years, it was just whatever I could get my hands on," she beams.
Her photography business, which she says thankfully grew dramatically during the global pandemic, is in high demand with local and national companies. Locally, she has shot campaigns for Torquay brand Pure Coastal, Lorne fashion label Vic & Bert and clothing company Patagonia. Further afield she has worked with Roxy, Akubra, and Everything Australian.
Shen asked what she loved about being a photographer, Zoe breaks it down into two perspectives.
From a personal perspective she finds the most joy from being creative and finding that balance of being able to capture and create.
"I love capture the images and then coming back home and creating something so unique in post-production," she smiles.
"And from the other perspective I love capturing those beautiful, super raw, in-between moments and seeing how they influence people. It is the story telling and raw in-between moments that I find so much joy in capturing."
Despite not having any formal photography training, Zoe says the internet has been her best friend, along with mentors in the industry.
With surfing something she does nearly every day now, it wasn't until she was 18 that Zoe was introduced to it.
"I took up surfing pretty much as soon as I got my licence, I would drive somewhere on the Mornington Peninsula or the Surf Coast," she recalls.
Five years ago she made the move to Anglesea with her partner as they both couldn't resist the temptation of the ocean.
Zoe is now hoping to continue growing her skill set by working with a wider range of lifestyle and fashion brands and creative individuals.
"I also want to channel my passion into environmental-based photography and videography work with organisations like Surfers for Climate," she shares.
"The ocean has always been a place of calmness and joy for me, so it was inevitable that i was going to integrate photography into my ocean adventures."
Follow @zoestrapp on Instagram and visit https://makeawave.com.au/zoe-strapp to donate
Photo by @belindabaggs