• Johnny Baylis

Freshie's Sea Otter

Freshwater beach is home to two surfing legends. The first is Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, whose statue forever watches over the spiritual home of Australian surfing closer than an eager clubby. The second is Paddy Duggan, the photographer ready at the edge of the break to snap your latest move and hopefully not your board.

Photo: @paddydpics

Like most surfers, Paddy’s call to the ocean is a unique story, with one major unexpected turn. Our lifelong waxer chose to become a photographer the minute he realised surfing was just too much hard work. As Paddy puts it, “I saw a group of Sea Otters at the zoo. They were lying on their backs lazing around and having a blast. We connected there and then. I realised my focus on life was all wrong. From that day on the Sea Otter became my spirit animal.”

It’s Paddy’s laid back ‘Otter’ style that makes him the photographer of choice for groms, pros & everyone in between to get their stylised pics. But don’t let his relaxed floating form fool you. “If you can paddle out the back and stand up on a wave, I’ve got all your angles covered” explains Paddy. “If you can’t do that then maybe get someone else to crack a few Kook shots from the beach”.

One thing’s for sure, Paddy’s always working hard to manage your exposure under the Australian sun. That is, until next winter, when he predicts one of life’s great events will strike again off Freshy Beach. “The 50 year storm’s striking the coast a few years early on the first weekend in August, and I will be there,” he says in an unusually serious tone. “I’m not taking bookings that weekend, it’ll be me and my wide angle lens against Mother Nature.”

The Shutter Priority reckons everyone should put that date into their phones right now. If nothing else there might be a few Collaroy beachfront units going cheap.

Follow Johnny Baylis @billysclicks