Great travel photography is transportive. It’s able to surpass its 2-D limitations and convey the feel of a certain place — the taste of street food, the sounds of a city square, or the power of crashing waves. It goes beyond the visual level to act on all of the senses.
That’s where Australia-based photographer Eugene Tan (aka ::Uge) excels. His sweeping shots of the tranquil turquoise waters of Bondi Beach have more in common with the mid-19th century Hudson River School art movement than with your run-of-the-mill IG photos. He possesses a distinct ability to breathe life into static images, even when the point of view is high above the action, a distinct trademark of the photographer.
These days, we all need a little digital transportation — if only to escape the absolute boredom that being quarantined during summer brings. So we reached out to ::Uge to take us on a visual tour of some of his favorite spots in Australia’s New South Wales. These are landscape he knows well. The photographer, who founded Bondi Beach’s Aquabumps Gallery, has been documenting and exploring the twists and turns of Australia’s wild crags and endless beaches since he was nine years old.
Take a break from your existential dread for a minute and let’s dive into this visual tour of New South Wales — with captions from ::Uge himself.
White Silica: The NSW South Coast, 2.5 hours from Sydney. Famous for its crystal blue waters and fine white sandy beaches. Has to be seen to be believed.
Azzurro: The infamous Bondi Icebergs – taken on a summer day from a helicopter. My signature style of photography being capturing beach life from above in a helicopter and below the ocean.
Colors of Bondi – shot on the 1st of Jan, a famous day for beachgoers kicking off their year doing what the majority of Aussies love – hitting the beach for a swim, surf, or a laze on the sand. Shot from the bird!
The infamous Bondi Lifeguards on a beautiful October morning just after sunrise where the light is warm and golden. This time of year in Bondi is magic.
Moonscape: Mungo National Park, located in south-western New South Wales, is noted for the archaeological remains discovered in the park. The remains of Mungo Man, the oldest human remains discovered in Australia, and Mungo Lady, the oldest known human to have been ritually cremated, were both discovered within the park.
Narooma on NSW’s far south coast. Shot from the bird – where you get to see just how blue the water is and how white the sand is against it.
Pass Lines: The famous Byron Bay pass this summer 2020. Home to longboarders and loved for its gentle long rides.
Byron Sets: We’re spending more and more time at Australia’s most Easterly point of Australia, Byron Bay. It’s where my wife spent much of her youth and our kids love this spot ‘the pass’, famous for its consistent gentle waves that wrap the point and go forever. At sunset here is magic and you will often surf with dolphins in the waves.
Lone Swimmer – my first ever helicopter ride, given to me by my wife for Christmas. I captured this at the north end of Bondi of a woman swimming off the rocks and it’s one of our most popular images of all time!
Bronte Bathe: Peak summers day in Sydney – shot mid-afternoon. This shot reminds of a Slim Aarons moment. Australia is famous for our ocean pools, as they wrap the coast from North to East and are a popular spot from swimmers and families.
Aussie Bush in the NSW mid-north coast – a famous Aussie outlook for many living in the country with the rich light of sunset against the gum trees. Nothing like being in nature.
Coogee Pastels – early swim in Summer on Coogee Beach.
Kombi – shot on one of my morning sunrise wanders, in winter when the beaches are quiet and the car park at Bondi had one lone Kombi sitting there – very rare for Bondi.
Bogey Hole: The swimming hole at Bronte Beach, Sydney, captured from the helicopter – ‘I love shooting this angle for the colors of the water and the swimmers who all look like miniature people enjoying what we all love about warm sunny days of summer. This is a special spot for swimmers and families.
Sea Cliff Bridge: Clifton NSW, just south of Sydney. Shot from the heli, I loved the line of the bridge over the wild ocean below.
Spirituality: Mackenzies Bay at Tamarama, Sydney. On my daily sunrise shoot, I was stopped in my tracks by a pod of dolphins who put on a show for the passers-by and surfers. Buses pulled over – people gasped, it was magic.