Baby Cobras, Young Shooters: Tom Carey

posted by / Photos / October 1, 2012

Once a week, during the duration of our Baby Cobras contest, SURFING will bring you the stories behind each of our senior staff photographers’ careers. They all got their foot into the surf industry’s door the old school way, before a contest like Baby Cobras existed (consider yourself lucky).

Week five:

Tom Carroll is the man. We went to Nicaragua and El Salvador on the Quiksilver Crossing back in 2003. He was so down to earth. After we returned home from the trip, he came over to my parents house where I was hanging to check out the slides. It was so classic. He was just chatting everyone up and eating pizza with the family. I'll never forget that.

Tom Carroll is the man. We went to Nicaragua and El Salvador on the Quiksilver Crossing back in 2003. He was so down to earth. After we returned home from the trip, he came over to my parents house where I was hanging to check out the slides. It was so classic. He was just chatting everyone up and eating pizza with the family. I'll never forget that.

I haven't been shooting too much flash lately. I don't know if it's because the surfers are getting lazy or it's just me. Probably me. Timmy Curran, dodging extended limbs.

I haven't been shooting too much flash lately. I don't know if it's because the surfers are getting lazy or it's just me. Probably me. Timmy Curran, dodging extended limbs.

Slayer, backstage in Vegas. I was able to meet them and shoot a portrait and catch a few songs at their show for Blisss Magazine. One of the best nights of my life, but man, was I intimidated. The next morning I flew home and took an English final.

Slayer, backstage in Vegas. I was able to meet them and shoot a portrait and catch a few songs at their show for Blisss Magazine. One of the best nights of my life, but man, was I intimidated. The next morning I flew home and took an English final.

Ozzie is one of my all time favorite people. He's so fricking genuine. And he rips. Still punting huge bone-breaking-airs in his mid 30s. This is an old shot from down south in NSW. Ozzie just let me chill at his house for a few weeks while he was filming Doped Youth. One of the best times of my life.

Ozzie is one of my all time favorite people. He's so fricking genuine. And he rips. Still punting huge bone-breaking-airs in his mid 30s. This is an old shot from down south in NSW. Ozzie just let me chill at his house for a few weeks while he was filming Doped Youth. One of the best times of my life.

Nate Tyler has been one of my best subjects since my beginning days at Volcom. This shot is one of my favs and landed on the cover of Surfer's Photo Annual back around 2004.

Nate Tyler has been one of my best subjects since my beginning days at Volcom. This shot is one of my favs and landed on the cover of Surfer's Photo Annual back around 2004.

Mike Morrissey pulling into an early one up in LA. Man, we used to bust our ass for those shots. Up at 4am. Driving and paddling out in the dark. Way worth it though.

Mike Morrissey pulling into an early one up in LA. Man, we used to bust our ass for those shots. Up at 4am. Driving and paddling out in the dark. Way worth it though.

I threw this shot of Ford Archbold in the mix because he's so damn funny. This was when he was like 13. It's good to build those relationships with the groms. Ford's the man.

I threw this shot of Ford Archbold in the mix because he's so damn funny. This was when he was like 13. It's good to build those relationships with the groms. Ford's the man.

This was the sickest speed hack of Andy. We were on location filming for the Bruce Movie in Indo. What a crazy trip that was.

This was the sickest speed hack of Andy. We were on location filming for the Bruce Movie in Indo. What a crazy trip that was.

Bruce on that same trip I believe. I think we used this shot a lot for the movie. He was really going for it on that trip.

Bruce on that same trip I believe. I think we used this shot a lot for the movie. He was really going for it on that trip.

Dingo's massive power gaff at Hollowtrees. I've been so lucky to work with Volcom and shoot some of the best surfers in the world.

Dingo's massive power gaff at Hollowtrees. I've been so lucky to work with Volcom and shoot some of the best surfers in the world.

This is Bruce pulling into the shorebreak at the Eddie. Definitely one of my favorite photos. It was shot on B&W Scala film. Stoked I wasn't at the end of the rolll for that one.

This is Bruce pulling into the shorebreak at the Eddie. Definitely one of my favorite photos. It was shot on B&W Scala film. Stoked I wasn't at the end of the rolll for that one.

Andy Irons going full speed over a little floater section in Indo. I like this shot. I don't know why.

Andy Irons going full speed over a little floater section in Indo. I like this shot. I don't know why.


 

Tom Carey:

Baby Cobras

When I was 12 or so I just picked up one of mom’s cameras and started messing around, just dabbling until I was 18 or 19 and that was when I dropped like 10 gees on a 600…then it all just took off from there. I was shooting with all my friends around Seal Beach, because there was a huge talent pool back then. And I was I definitely working hard as a grom — like shooting every morning and every afternoon — but I had fun doing it so it wasn’t hard work. But that’s what it took. When I was 20 I got on staff at Transworld, but then in 2003 started working for Volcom and freelancing again. That was probably my best year ever ‘cause they gave me a lot of opportunities and guys to shoot…f–k, I owe Volcom a lot. Then I got on staff at SURFING in 2007 or 2008 and the rest is history.

If I were to give young shooters advice, I’d say swim. Find some heavy waves and get out there. Pulled back shots are a dime a dozen now. What’s gonna separate you is getting in the water and getting that unique perspective that most people can’t. Another good tip is to find one really good local surfer, and hang on to that guy. Meet his friends and travel with them and that will open doors. I wouldn’t say I’m the best photographer in the world, not by a long shot, but I’m well rounded and my networking skills and knowing all the spots…I don’t know, I’ve got it pretty dialed. It makes all the difference.

 

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