Tom Pearsall is a photographer whose work we’ve been digging for a while.
When evoking Tom’s work, we’re usually thinking ‘big Western Australian caves, shot from austere angles’—Tom is known for being a madman behind the lens and scrolling through his instagram will quickly make you realize that… If you’ve seen his shot of Jack Robinson in Volume VI, you‘ll also be familiar. That being said, we were greeted by a totally different facette of Tom’s photography when he emailed us the following series.
Last year, Tom and his girlfriend drove 3000 miles across Western Europe in a 2000 Fiat Ducato Hymer Swing, from Copenhagen to Mundaka, passing by the hidden corners of the French Basque country, the endless banks of Hossegor, the vineyards of Medoc and of course, our darling Paris.
There’s nothing like seeing a place through fresh eyes. The buildings. The dance of a crowded street. The hustle & bustle of people taking care of their daily businesses. The endless variety of sounds and the way the light hits each and very single street so uniquely… These little details that make each town so singular are so easily forgotten when you inhabit it. Hailing from Margaret River, Western Australia, Tom’s perspective on the old continent was as fresh as it gets, and it shows in the images below.
We’ll leave it with a few notes from the man & his photos from the road.
“I’ve travelled exstensively for the past four years. But always with a surf mission in mind to often very remote and mysterious locations. This trip really highlighted how remote and isolated we are in WA. We drove for literally days, nonstop on a highway, surrounded by urban sprawl. I, maybe naively, didn’t expect that. I thought I’d be gawking out the window at castles and ruins all day. Instead. Wind turbines (which are awesome by the way!) and highway fencing, with the odd paddock thrown in for variety. You can drive for hours and hours without even seeing a town at all at home.
The biggest difference I found was the wealth of history and the concentration of humans (in places). Many of the surf towns in Basque Country and Hossegor actually reminded me a lot of home. But we were there in shoulder season with many of the cafes, restaurants and caravan parks being closed in the surf towns we visited. By the look of how many empty carparks there were it gets waaaaay busier.”
“I surfed with nearly no one at stormy (heavy) 8ft Mundaka. I also scored 6-8ft Hossegor with very few people out (also heavy, I almost gave up paddling out) and surfed a pumping river mouth in the North of Spain by myself. My girlfriend Amalie even scored some super fun waves in the north of Spain in beaming sunshine.
To be able to walk back to the RV for a hot shower and relax in comfort while looking out the window at the lineup was very special, and (kind of) worth the stress of driving the beast through the tiny cobblestone streets of many of the older towns, or going down the wrong road in Paris during rush hour. Dear god, that was more terrifying than shooting tow size Teahupoo with a fish eye! (not that I’ve done that).
We did get busted for camping a few times. “Lo siento policía” was one of the Spanish phrases we learnt quickly. It was great to just photograph when I wanted and surf when I wanted, not to have pressure of really needing to get images or get up crazy early every day.“
“I’m not usually one for cities or stereotypical tourist hotspots but one of the absolute highlights was simply walking around Paris all day and night. I was wide-eyed at the variety and volume of humans especially. It’s crazy coming from Australia; how much diversity of culture, language and unique environments are crammed into such a comparatively small area. It was my first time ever shooting in an urban area and first crack at Street Photography. It was such a challenge and very interesting to take note of everything going on around you. Kind of scary too; to find the limits of taking photos of strangers. So many countless moments are happening at the same time, it was kind of mind-boggling!”