Welcome back to Hang 10 with Birdie, where we catch up with friends Birdwell has made along the way, in and out of the water. This time we’re traveling to Australia’s Bondi Beach to link up with Eugene Tan a.k.a. Uge, otherwise known by his photographic alias, Aquabumps. A surfer since 14 and photographer since age 9, Uge’s pre-work ritual of shooting Bondi in the wee hours of the morning helped shape the way the world saw its famous white sands as the internet age dawned. In 2004, he quit his job as a Creative Director to open his own gallery downtown, promptly met his wife (one of his first customers), and rapidly carved out a niche as a sought-after aerial photographer. While he still spends most days snapping and surfing his beloved home turf in his Birdwell 808s, he’s just as likely to be on commission in the exotic beaches of Rio, Tahiti, or the Maldives — where, hopefully, the surf is pumping.
1) What's your super power?
- I can make Bondi Beach dribbles look like it’s pumping through fancy camera angles and lenses. I shoot Bondi daily, so I have perfected making an average wave look great. (Bondi is not famous for its waves, not like Bells or the Super bank)
2) Would you rather be able to fly or be invisible?
- Fly. My niche in photography has been aerials for over a decade. I charter helicopters around 30 times a year, costing me a fortune! If I could fly, with my camera of course, I would get amazing angles all the time – cheaper too!
3) Which three people, living or historical, would you invite to dinner? Why?
- Elon Musk – I’m fascinated by this man, his vision, he’s tech, how he thinks the world will operate in 20 years.
- Massimo Vitali – Italian legendary photographer. He’s just flat out amazing.
- Kelly Slater – (he would have to leave his phone at home – he’s addicted to that thing) Love to talk wave pools, the future of the WSL
4) Where are you as you answer these questions?
- My studio in Bondi Beach. The surf is pumping right now, so I think I had better take a break and score a few. It’s tubing which is so rare.
5) If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your days, which one would it be?
- Damn, that’s a very hard one. Damn. Erm. That’s too hard. Maybe Led Zepplin IV 1972
6) What posters did you have on your walls when you were growing up?
- Surfing posters, windsurfing posters, ok a couple of bikini girls.
7) Is there a day in your life that you’d like to live over again?
- Wedding day to my beautiful bride Debbie. We got married in Bali with 120 friends, it was amazing.
8) Favorite appliance or tool?
- My garden blower, blows all the sand off the decks and cleans the gardens in minutes.
9) Last product you recommended?
- Microsoft Surface Studio computer, where you can paint and draw directly onto the screen. (Good for retouching photos on too!)
10) Favorite Birdie style?
- I’m an 808 style. Wear them all the time.