In TSJ 27.4, Sean Doherty pens the intro to Hayden Richards’ portfolio, and manages to neatly sum up the South Australian photographer—and his work:
“Rich is ‘Richo’ to the locals,” he writes, “and ‘SA Rips’ to his cult following on Instagram. I knew him for six months before I discovered his real name was actually Hayden Richards, although no one calls him Hayden, ever, not even his wife. He talks in clipped sentences with a contemplative breeze blowing between them. The desolate and ancient South Australian coast is his primary subject, even when a surfer stumbles into frame. There’s a distinct look to his work that’s hard to decode. His images are beautiful but also a little unsettling. Everything looks like it’s been washed by a white-hot sun.”
The gallery here, a collection of spare parts from Richards’ print feature, drives home Doherty’s observations. All shots and captions (below) by the photographer.
To see more of Richards’ work, pick up a copy of the mag.
This was an early morning surf check. The dawn light gives it a different look. It’s really bright early in the mornings here. I tell everyone that our landscape looks like Mars. This area is also one of the few places in the world that gets dodge tides, which is where the tide doesn’t move all day. Usually, the tides move up and down a few meters everyday. This day the tides didn’t move, and the waves stayed like this from sun up to sun down.
This is a gnarly wave. It requires a long swim. It takes me about 25 minutes to get out to it through a deep channel, which we call Shark Alley. There are big caves in the reef underneath, and people get stuck in them quite often. I use a 50mm lens out here so I don’t have to get too close in, since it’s really easy to get sucked over. When you do, it’s a mission to get back out again. The sun was just coming up when I took this shot of my friend Sam Jervis, and the light adds some beauty to a really heavy situation.
Coming home after a day of shooting, just a few miles from where I live. I had to stop and get a photo. Our sunsets seem to go for ages down here in S.A. Even when the sun has been gone for about an hour, we still have light from below the horizon.
The more you look at this suck-out onto dry reef, the more intense it seems. I could sit in this spot and watch these waves break all day long. I never get sick of the energy and the power—it’s mind boggling and scary. It’s hard to tell, but the wave is nearly 20 feet when it breaks right there. Think about how thick the wave is as it comes from below sea level. These waves sound like shotguns going off, and you can feel it vibrate along the cliff. If someone were trapped in there, they wouldn’t survive it.
I find shots like this more interesting than shots of guys in the barrel. After watching Craig for a bit, I anticipated his kick out from the start of the wave. The photo feels pretty cosmic, with the spray looking like stars. When Craig first came down this way, he was a little bit sheepish at certain spots. But, once he saw that most of the locals are pretty mellow, he quickly got comfortable.
I took this photo following a surf. I was completely by myself that afternoon. Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing out on anything by living all the way down in South Australia. Then I get days like this all to myself, and it just about answers the question for me.
Late in the afternoon along the South Australian coastline. I like shooting in the afternoon the best. That’s when I find the light the most interesting. Through the winter, we get stormy days like this almost half the time.
Beau is a modest kid, and such a stylish surfer. It showed at this slab. It’s such a heavy spot, especially without towing in. He was coming from behind the peak and knifing it straight into the tube. He was in the right position on nearly every wave he caught.