Cait Miers is a freelance photographer and AquaTech Ambassador based in Byron Bay, Australia. Recently, Cait has combined her knowledge of the industry with her photographic skill set and put it into workshops; encouraging female photographers to chase their dreams and kickstart their own careers. AquaTech have been proud supporters of Cait’s workshops since day one. We wanted to find out a little bit more about what inspired Cait to build her “girl-gang” of female photographers.
What was your motivation behind creating “The Clique” series of workshops?
I feel like the calling was pretty clear for me. The idea popped into my head around 2017, but it was funny because I thought that I wasn’t ‘qualified’ or confident enough to educate. Where did I even come up with the concept of being ‘qualified?’ haha! That’s what’s rad about education, I’m just teaching people MY way because it worked for me. In January 2019 I felt a longing to put the idea into action and away we went. I created an instagram, a logo, a style guide, a brand identity and an idea for an in person workshop all within a day. The root of the concept comes from the fact that I literally had a dream to become a freelance surf photographer; I dreamt of shooting for the top surf brands in the world, and I’ve now achieved what I set out to do. So by achieving that, it’s instilled confidence, resilience and self belief within myself that I can do anything. I want to share that with other women and coach them into realising their own dreams, because it’s 100% possible.
You went to Uni and put in the hard yards to learn your craft, how would something like “The Clique” workshops have helped you in the early stages of your career?
The experience I had with uni is actually one of the most motivating reasons I started The Clique. At uni I was constantly told there is a right and wrong way to shoot, that my images were ‘wrong’ or not technically correct and it just didn’t sit right with me. I finished the degree but was driven more than ever to make ‘my way’ of shooting work. And it did! So hence, the lessons learned in the workshops and through my online course stem from the fact that there really is no wrong or right way to shoot and that ‘your way’ is what is going to make you shine. The Clique is a nurturing, relaxed and community based environment that’s free from intimidation and judgment which is perfect for beginners and people who are in the early stages of their career.
What do you hope your students take away from your workshops?
Confidence! That’s the number one thing I want women to take away. After doing 6 workshops already around the world, I can guarantee that they’re coming away with that. I can teach someone a million things about how to do something, but if their confidence and self belief in their work isn’t there, then it becomes a lot harder.
Sometimes, professional photographers can be a little reserved in giving away all their hard earned secrets. What is your view on sharing your knowledge with your students?
That’s what I’m here to do. Blast that theory into a million pieces haha! I know some photographers look at me and think what I’m doing is crazy. That’s fine if they think that, but the thing is, why waste all that knowledge just on yourself. To give someone else the confidence to chase after their dreams is something that I can’t put a monetary value on. I want to break the mould that photographers are all competing against each other.
What are some of the lessons you have learnt and challenges you’ve been presented with since running the workshops?
I’ve definitely learned A LOT about myself doing the workshops. The first workshop I ran was really hard, but it gets a little easier every time and it’s always so rewarding. I’ve learnt the ability to adapt very quickly, how to handle 12 women with different needs, and how to reschedule an entire workshop the day before (Sydney during the cyclone!). A lot of it is event planning leading up to it which is fun, but doing it, it’s actually really interesting because you’re forced to think quickly. I’ve always enjoyed ‘leading’ a group of people but I think these workshops are really pushing me to the best of my ability!
Any all male workshops in the pipeline? ;-)
It’s so funny because I’ve had so much interest from guys about workshops and guys asking where other guys are doing this sort of thing. I see a huge gap in the market there, so if you’re reading this, any male photographers, hop to it!
One of your recent workshops was held in the new wave pool down in Melbourne, what was that experience like?
I LOVED IT. I was coming straight from Sydney where we had to change up the workshop due to a cyclone, so I was a little stressed. But with the wave pool I was guaranteed waves so that was the cool part! The Urbn Surf crew were super accommodating and the day went so well. It replicated a real life scenario because the rip is actually spot on to how it usually works in the ocean! It was a perfect environment to teach in.
I saw you managed to sneak a couple of waves in for yourself too. How was it?
I did! In the second session, I managed to get a few waves! It’s so fun. The rides are pretty short but still a great experience. My dad and brother also came and joined in and got to catch a few waves so it was a really special experience for me.
What was the experience like trying to catalogue all your knowledge into your online course “The Fearless Photographer”?
I look back now and go, “how did I do that?” I really put my head down in winter and worked really hard on that course. I did it all myself from making the slides, talking points, filming the videos, creating the site, it was a lot of work. It was so rewarding to see it all come together, and then to see my students actually start gaining their own clients and shoots and realising their own dreams, that’s what it was designed to do! There’s so much more in the pipeline too!
If you could dream up your ideal workshop, what would it look like?
It’s a retreat idea I’ve been brewing up. And generally when I brew something, it’ll end up happening! We head somewhere remote, get a few of the best female surfers and just create for a week. I really do want to do something like this when this virus is all done with!
There has been a steady rise in female surf photographers over the years in what has typically been a male dominated pursuit, particularly at some of the heavier surf breaks. Where do you see surf photography headed over the next few years and what is inspiring you for the future?
I love it! And if I can inspire more females to take up a camera and head out into the ocean or wherever they want to shoot, I’ve done my job. The thing is, I view everyone as equals, as we all should. So just because it’s been a male dominated industry doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. I’m not saying women have to dominate the line-ups and it’s all go girls etc because that would also be unequal. It’s just about instilling the confidence within women to create that change in their mind from “oh I can’t do this, it’s a male dominated industry, I don’t have a place”, to “I can, and I will, and I deserve to be out here just as much as anyone else”. The industry has been stuck for a long time and women back then were told not to question it or not to speak up because they felt it wasn’t their right to do so. If they did question it, it had to be done in a masculine tone to be able to be heard which was suppressing femininity. Too masculine and you would come across as ‘one of the boys,’ too feminine and you’d come across as too girly and weak. There was no balance and no in-between. Now, I think that women are finding that balance, we’re finding our voices and are finally being heard. We still have a long way to go, but my understanding is it doesn’t matter if you’re a male or a female, the ocean is there for all of us to enjoy.
You may have been lucky enough to see some of Dave Sandford’s images appear on your news feeds and social media pages of late. If so, there's no doubt you would have stopped and stared in awe at his amazing images. What you might not have known, is that these images were captured within a lake! We reached out to Dave to gain some insight into this body of work and his process for capturing these images.