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The Australian – “And then there were two.”

The Australian is arguably Australia’s most established newspaper and I am fortunate enough to have been selected for their weekly “Heart of the Nation” photo award for my image, “And then there were two”. Below is an exert written by Ross Bilton, enjoy.

Your timing has to be spot-on when you jump off the point at Snapper Rocks, says surf photographer Josh Bystrom. You want to leap just as a wave is rebounding from the rock shelf; get it right and the backwash will carry you out to the break, jump to early, though, and you’ll get pushed back onto the sharp rocks; too late and you’ll end up in dead water with egg on your face. And as for this grommet pictured at the moment of commitment, prides really on the line: queuing up behind him is world tour surfer Jeremy Flores – and behind Flores is Gabriel Medina, the Brazilian former world champion renowned for landing the first backflip in competition. It was 5:30am during last years Quiksilver Pro – part of the World Surf League championship tour – and the elite surfers were using the dawn session to limber up for the competition later that morning. Bystrom loves the way locals get to “rub shoulders with their heroes” at this annual two-week event on the Gold Coast. It’s thrilling to find yourself in the water with the likes of Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning or Joel Parkinson, he says: “You can talk to them and watch them in action up close. You’re all just caching waves together. That sort of interaction is rare in sport, I recon, and it’s a great equaliser.” Bystrom who’s shot is in the shortlist of this years Heritage Bank Photographic Awards, is a 27 year old from Currumbin who does “a little bit of everything” to make a living. He patrols the southern Gold Coast as a lifeguard during summer, works in construction in winter, and always manages to spend a few months of the year overseas shooting for surf resorts. His dream is to one day become an accredited photographer following the world tour. And this unidentified grommet? Bystrom is glad to report that the youngster didn’t stuff up in front of his heroes: he times the jump perfectly, paddled out with the backwash and joined the line-up with the greatest surfers on earth. Onya, kid.

Steph Gilmore – Kirra

I was fortunate enough to get a double spread of Steph Gilmore in Issue #337 of SurfingLife magazine and humbled to get a mention from one of surfings greats. Below is an exert from the magazine from Steph.

“At Kirra this year Josh Bystrom shot one of my favourite ever photos. The colour of the water is amazing, and theres nobody else around, which is crazy, it’s just me. I know how hard it is to link up with someone at Kirra, with the current and amount of water moving, so that makes it even more special. I hadn’t planned on shooting with anyone – I don’t usually travel with a troop of filmers and photogs – but I had a scroll through Instagram later that day, and it showed up in typical new age fashion. It’s just a really nice shot.” – Steph

Shitbox Rally 2018

I was asked by Nathan Mcneil from Set in Stone Photography to photograph the 9th annual Cancer Council Shitbox Rally. Over 7 days we travelled 5000 k’s through the Australian outback from Brisbane to Darwin in a group of 200+ cars all worth under $1000, 1.9 Million was raised for Cancer Research and there were endless stories, smiles, laughter along the way. What a journey, next year can’t come soon enough!                         

Queensland State Awards

It may come as a surprise to you that social media and self promotion is something that is hard for me to do, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, It’s almost all a necessary evil in todays society for people wanting to pursue their dreams in a creative work environment. I am generally a little more reserved than many others and it’s not until a recent photography course that I had the chance to exhibit my work for the first time. I went along to the Queensland State Awards after entering several of my favourite images taken over the past year expecting no more than a catch up with my classmates and a chance to check out all the great work on exhibit. The images were entered into the “Documentary” category and were viewed by a panel of 10 judges dissecting every aspect of each photograph and to my delight two of my images were awarded Silver Awards, granting me entry into Australian Photographer of the year awards and Runner-up Queensland student photographer of the year! The Australian awards will be held in Melbourne on the 25th – 28th August, stay tuned for more.

When the taps turn on.

It’s no secret the Gold Coast of Australia has had an average run of waves from recent memory, that is until a deep slow moving low generated off the Antarctic basin began to develop pushing groomed six footers along the coasts fabled sand banks. This low was then shortly followed one of the latest recorded tropical cyclones and the coasts wave-starved surfers had no shortage of waves to feast their eyes on. Here’s an image of Mick Fanning enjoy Kirras fabled sandy barrels.


I recently spent two weeks exploring Oahu, our first few days were spent taking in the sites of Honolulu, watching endless crumbling waves ridden by a plethora of punters on ten foot longboards while to sipping down endless Mai Tai’s, a lethal drink comprised of orange Liqueur, Dark Rum and a mix of various juices. When then ventured to the North Shore in pursuit of a good surf and place to burn off our hangover.

There we found our solace, basing ourselves at Turtle Bay and surfing several of the rocky outcrops by the resort as well as Chuns reef, a rippable A-Frame peak nearby. The WSL pro surf tour was in town for their Annual event, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and although we were only able to see fleeting moments of what the Banzai Pipeline is known for, throaty, spitting, perfect waves, it was still an unforgettable time.

Our trip was capped off by a prolific local hike known as ‘Stairway to Heaven’, the 3922 stairs, also known as ‘Haiku Stairs’ bend and stretch to the top of the Ko’olau mountain range and up to some of the islands best views. The stairway was originally made in 1942 by the American Navy for conducting top secret radio work for several years before being decommissioned and used as a tourist attraction. Recent landslides have caused a closure of the stairs which are now enforced by local authorities so we were lucky enough to have a local friend show us a more discreet route to and from the stairs. We began the hike mid afternoon in the hope of catching a good sunset and we sure weren’t disappointed, Hawaii, what a place!

Face to Face

We were on a chartered spearfishing trip with Benthic Ocean Sports in Destin, Florida approximately 40 miles out to sea. We’d checked the fish finder and found a large school headed towards us at around 50 feet, so masks were donned, spears loaded and deep rhythmic breathing ensued as we attempted to lower our heart rate breathing through our diaphragm. The first of four divers descended into the deep blue ocean, we were med by hundreds of fish swimming around us seemingly oblivious to the sharp spears pointed in their direction. Moments later, Matt, a seasoned spear-fisherman spots a large King Mackerel and he’s off, using his metre-long carbon fibre fins to their full potential, attempting to get in the perfect angle for his one chance at a successful shot. Moments later we’re at the surface, it’s a big fish and Matt is out of breath having had to wrestle it to the surface. High fives and hoots are given all round as we see the boat bobbing silently in the distance, I glance back and see through the cloudy red blood being emitted from the fish that a shark is headed straight toward me showing no sign of slowing down. I hovered in the water frozen to the spot, as my mind whirled with possible outcomes from this encounter. I lifted up my camera, made from solid aluminium, held it in front of me and fired a quick shot before I kicked the shark away from me. That was close.

Chris Bystrom

All of my photography and achievements (although somewhat minor) can be attributed to my late father, Chris. Below is a brief write up I put together for him, wherever you are, I miss you mate.

Chris Bystrom started off with humble beginnings, and like many other teenagers growing up as a young Californian in Redondo Beach, loved surfing with a passion. He earned his daily keep wheeling and dealing, selling records at swap meets for double the price he originally paid. It wasn’t until a close friend handed him a movie camera in ‘67 that Chris found his true calling. So at age 17, fuelled with the love of surfing and capturing photographic images, he began shooting.

Since that first encounter with a camera Chris has produced 3 feature-length 16mm surfing documentaries and 27 surfing films. He holds the standing record for the most surfing films released by any single individual. Included in that list are such shortboard classics as “Blazing Boards”, “Beyond Blazing Boards”, “Cyclone fever”, “Gravity Sucks” and “Primal Urge” to name a few amongst many.

In an era when most surf movies were being shown in high school auditoriums and community centers Chris brought surfing back to the big screen. His 16mm films were shown at the Sydney Opera House and cinemas across Australia and the United States.

In many ways Chris was way ahead of his time. He had a flair for recognizing trends in the surfing industry and saw the longboarding revolution coming almost before it had started. In the mid 90’s longboarding had been somewhat forgotten, Chris is credited for helping resurrect the longboarding scene and make it what it is today by producing films that influenced generations. Classics like “Blazing Longboards”, “Longboarding is Not a Crime”, “Full Cycle”, “Longboards the Rebirth of Cool” and “Soul Patrol” are amongst his legacy.

Chris’s covers featured famous surfing artists like Rick Griffin and Jim Davidson. His eye for talent brought underground bands at the time like “INXS”, “Men Without Hats” and the “Hoodoo Gurus” public exposure when he incorporated them in his movies.

Although more widely known for his movie making, Chris also had literary and business talents. He founded, published and edited the influential “Pacific Longboarder Magazine” in Australia for two years and also owned a surf shop cum museum called “Retro Groove” in Coolangatta.Chris’s vast surfing roots gave him the knowledge to author “The Glide” which was the first comprehensive look at longboarding in nearly thirty years and was a forerunner of today’s longboarding books.

Tragically, Chris was killed in a motor vehicle accident at Tumbulgum NSW in May 2001.

As one of the primary film makers of his time Chris’s contribution to the sport of surfing will never be forgotten. He is sadly missed by family and friends alike.

This site is dedicated to my father, Chris, and as his son I hope to continue his legacy into the future.

Check out for movie trailers and further info.

My Dream Session

Can you be in Fiji in a week? If so can you book by tomorrow and send me confirmation ASAP? It’s so rare to have everything fall into place, but when it does it can be a beautiful thing. Two weeks after these few emails were exchanged I was feasting my eyeballs on the most perfect surf conditions imaginable, 9-11 foot (Hawaiian Sized) waves rolling in, with just a few lucky punters willing enough to throw themselves over the ledge for a shot at the best wave of their lives. I’d shot from the water for two hours before heading in to put some more sunscreen on and don a rashguard to protect me from the beading sunlight when Kelly Slater appeared next to us on a jet ski shouting ‘can I anchor up to your boat?’. The few buoys secured to the reef were taken so we were much obliged to have a quick chat with the king before watching him paddle out. Fielded with a new sense of stoke and a granola bar given to me by one of the guests I too followed suit and swam out, half way into the swim towards the lineup and after a few failed test photos, I realised in my haste I’d forgotten to turn my camera on, so after an extra couple hundred meters of swimming, with a camera that ways upwards of 7kg I finally made it back to the lineup. Six hours later with a burned face, chapped lips and aching feet it was my turn to shine, so over a cold Fiji Bitter I scanned through all the images from the day, I’d never been happier.

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‘For what more can we ask for than a good friend, a clean tube and the simple joy of travel’. – Chris Bystrom