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Q&A with Uge from Aquabumps

cover image by aquabumps

words by ben stephens

Aquabumps. It’s a Bondi thing. It’s also a gallery, a rad Instagram account, a daily email and most of all, a talented photographer named Eugene (Uge) Tan, backed by a team of dedicated professionals.

For almost two decades, Uge has snapped morning shots around the Bondi coastline, showcasing just how damn awesome it is.

With birthdays and new gallery openings, we sat down with the man himself to ask the important questions:

Very dark this morning at 6am down at Bondi. The Bondi Rescue boys just setting up for the day here.

A post shared by A Q U A B U M P S (@aquabumps) on

BS: Hey Uge
ET: Hey Ben

BS: For the last 18 years you’ve woken before sunrise to get to the beach as the day breaks over the famous stretch of sand, snap a couple of memory cards full of incredible pieces of photography… What would you be doing if this weren’t your life?
ET: Gosh I don’t know, I’ve been doing it for so long it’s become second nature to me. It’s my morning ritual and is engrained in my physique. I wasn’t that good at school, didn’t like the formality of it – so I think I was always going to do something of my own. Maybe I would be living on the North Shore of Hawaii with my family and running a surf shop!

BS: There are some sceptics out there that believe that you don’t get up every morning to shoot the sunrise… Could we be so forward to ask you take a screenshot of your alarm?
ET: Haa…nah ask my wife I kids I don’t need an alarm haven’t set one since our eldest Jet came along 6 years ago. After shooting sunrise for 18 years your body clock sets itself and bing like that I’m awake at about 5.30am every morning. Kids ask me every morning Dad where you going ‘take photos’.

BS: How many times do you think you’ve been asked ‘What do you love about Bondi?’
ET: too many to count.

BS: … What do you love about Bondi?
ET: That we are on the beach and a beach that is 15 minutes from a big city. That we have great fresh produce and amazing restaurants and everything is in walking distance. There’s a transient part to Bondi with travellers and tourists but at the heart of it is community of all walks of life. I love that about Bondi ‘it’s a mixing pot’ of many different types of people – but we all love living and being close to the beach.

BS: The Sun is up and it’s coffee time… where does Uge get his fix in Bondi?
ET: Organics on Gould or Gusto on Hall street. Saturday’s on Gould and Drake on Gould. I have several a day.

BS: You spend a lot of time in the surf, from world champs to local grommets, who would be your favourite surfer to shoot?
ET: I love shooting surfing – and pros. Hawaii is great for this as they are everywhere as most go to surf there in the off season and a lot of them live there on the North Shore. All time favourite would have to be John John Florence for his unpredictability and crazy airs.

BS: Two stunning locations, but if you had to choose only one, would it be Icebergs or Bronte pool and why?
ET: Gotta be icebergs as we just laid one of my Italian prints in the entire pool 49.9 metres long by 13 meters wide. Dream come true for me. My wife Deb who works looks after the business side of things came up with the idea a year ago. We pitched it to Canon and Santa Vittoria and last Thursday we did it. Took her a year to pull it all together, to watch the tides, the swell and the weather. 7 blokes got in the pool last Thursday and in just over 5 hours laid “peppermint fresh’ and we brought a little bit of Amalfi to Bondi. I shot it from a chopper and then we had 120 people to an Italian exhibition on the icebergs deck. Cool huh?

(Check it out here)

BS: You’ve just opened up your second gallery, can you tell us about the new store?
ET: It’s actually a pop up for 6 months in the Rocks, 119 George Street – come see us. The Rocks is changing a lot and I wanted to see if my work would translate to a more urban environment where so many of my subscribers to the daily email work Monday – Friday and where tourists frequent all week long. We’ve only been open 4 days and the Gallery is a cross section of my local, international work, books and smaller items like our acrylic blocks. Good stuff to take home for the tourists and the perfect gift for your mates Birthday dinner on Friday night!! Come see us after work.

BS: Uge, thank you
ET: Pleasure – thank you Ben!

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