There are few people who live surfing the way Andrew Kidman does. Now, the maker of Litmus and Glass Love, has compiled a limited-edition book entitled Ether. Kidman’s bohemian lifestyle has introduced him to some of the most influential surfers, shapers and personalities to ever set foot on a surfboard and Ether encapsulates it all through photographs, interviews, screen prints and paintings.
To me I’ve always found shaping fascinating because basically whatever you do to that surfboard while you’re shaping it, will affect the way it goes in the water.
Ether is primarily a photo book, is photography your preferred medium?
I work in a lot of different mediums but photography for me is a way of documenting things. I don’t really have a preferred medium. I’m not ever trying to go after any look or anything. For me in a way its all expression, so for me its picking the best medium to convey what you’re trying to get across and sometimes the only way you can get it across is through photography.
It’s either nature, and the beauty of what nature is. Or it’s somebody doing something. The photos often explain a process. If you look at someone shaping a surfboard, a photo is basically a documentation of what it is. And that’s all I’ve ever done with photography, is to try and show exactly what’s going on. If you look at some of the empty waves in the book. There have been times when I’ve seen something in the ocean that I’ve wanted to try to show through photography. So I’ll swim out and try and get the same feeling I get when I’m surfing. And again, you’re just trying to express what the ocean is doing.
There is a lot of focus on shapers. How much does the craft of surfboard building figure into the artistic expression of surfing?
That’s the whole thing really. Without the surfboard you can’t really do it. You can body surf, which is fun too, but the surfboard is the vehicle that allows to ride the waves, which then becomes an extension again, of what you want to express artistically, or whatever you want to call it.
To me I’ve always found shaping fascinating because basically whatever you do to that surfboard while you’re shaping it, will affect the way it goes in the water. There is an infinite combination of things that you can do to that surfboard that will make it go different. And that’s fascinating, its like an endless journey of fun really.
I’ve always been drawn to it, I mean I’ve shaped since I was a little kid, so I’ve always been drawn to that, so I’ve always hung around surfboard shapers, and that’s sort of what you’re seeing in the book; photographs of surfboard shapers. People like Simon Anderson, you know I grew up with those guys, so I was always hanging around.
So that dictated the subject matter?
Absolutely, that’s all it is. I’ve never looked at photography as a way to make a living. I don’t chase photos to try and make money out of them. All I’ve ever tried to do, is that if I’ve found things interesting, I’ve tried to document them. Writing is something more that I’ve used to make a living out of, and sometimes I took photos to try and help illustrate the writing. But generally the photography is more of a personal thing, and that’s what you’re seeing in the book is personal insights into peoples lives because you become comfortable with them because they are your friends. I mean I know I feel uncomfortable when someone I don’t know points a camera at me. But if you know them they feel comfortable and they know what you’re doing.
You’ve used photography and writing to fund your travels. Is surf journalism important to you, or is it just a means to an end?
Well it’s really important. I’ve always tried to do articles that I find interesting. I mean I don’t chase that. If there is something that I find interesting or really important that I feel needs to be documented I try to do it. For instance I have a couple shapers that I’m doing stuff with at the moment and I’ve been working with them for almost three years, just for one article. So that’s not making the money to keep me going. I don’t just want to do bullshit articles and just fluff it out.
I’ve been fortunate, because I’ve made a few films and stuff like that and all these little things bring in little bits of money for me. So I’m fortunate enough to make a living from everything that I do.