Ever thought about coming to Newcastle? Check photos of @daily_salt and you will fall in love with Newcastle’s coastline! We talked with Scott Harrison from Daily Salt about his work, Newcastle’s waves, early mornings and sharks. Make sure to check his favourite places to hangout and eat!

How it all started with surf photography? Do you remember your first surf photoshoot?

I always had a camera laying around when I lived in Sydney but only ever used it on overseas holidays. In 2014 my wife and I moved back to Newcastle, Merewether and on the very first morning I woke up to this amazing pink light shining through the window.

I took a bunch of horrible photos, but was filled with a crazy sense of joy being out there. I decided that day morning that this is what I want to do every day

Realising the beach is now basically in my front yard, I grabbed my camera and ran up to the beach to see perfect waves and an amazing sunrise. I took a bunch of horrible photos, but was filled with a crazy sense of joy being out there. I decided that day morning that this is what I want to do every day.

What do you do besides capturing waves on a daily basis?

Photographing surfing, waves and the coastal lifestyle in general is definitely my main passion but most of my income comes through commercial brand shoots and product photography. I work with a lot of people in the wellness space, yoga, pilates, health coaches as well as both growing and national product brands.

Tell us a bit about Newcastle and surf here

I am very fortunate, doing what I do and living in Newcastle. Newcastle has incredible surf breaks and good selection to choose from. It’s a surf culture town and has bred some of the best surfers to ever come out of Australia.

We have the finals for the National Boardriders competition held here each year as well as Surfest, which is one of the highest rated QS surf events in the world. 

How does your usual day look like? What are the challenges and what brings you the biggest satisfaction?

My usual day is waking up well before the sun and driving the loop around the beaches in town anywhere from Merewether to Nobbys to see what’s happening and where looks good.

I like to shoot in the window of around 15 minutes before sunrise through to anywhere from 30 – 60 mins after sunrise depending on clouds and available light. I try to go out and have a look most days, even if I don’t end up getting the camera out.

I wouldn’t say I love waking up early, it’s just the thing you need to do in order to be out to capture the best light. But that in turn becomes the satisfaction. Once you beat the battle of the alarm clock and get out there, it’s always awesome.

The challenge is waking up early in the cold and going, not really knowing what to expect or if to expect anything. More often than not, there are no waves or the light isn’t great and you go home with no photos, but that just makes the days with good conditions even better.

I wouldn’t say I love waking up early, it’s just the thing you need to do in order to be out to capture the best light. But that in turn becomes the satisfaction. Once you beat the battle of the alarm clock and get out there, it’s always awesome. You are rewarded with the best time of day to be outside and the best conditions to photograph in on the East Coast.

Besides your hometown what are other places you travelled to shoot?

For shooting waves, the south coast of NSW and New Zealand are probably my 2 favourite destinations. I usually head up to the Gold Coast when the Quicksilver Pro is on and this year I also went down to Bells Beach.

I went to the North Shore of Hawaii last year but didn’t get the best conditions. I also have good friends over in Margaret River so have been there a few times. Oh and I love Bali and shooting anywhere along the Bukit peninsula.

Which destinations are on your list?

I think every surf or wave photographer wants to go and sit in the channel at Teahupoo in Tahiti and that is also definitely right up the top of my list.

I’d definitely love to go back to the North Shore of Hawaii and see it firing.

One day I’d love to sit on the back of a jet-ski at The Right in WA.

I’d love to go and photograph Iceland and Norway in general and to combine that with finding some waves there would be ultimate.

A boat trip to one of the incredible breaks out off the islands in Indo.

There’s also still many spots in NZ I’m yet to get to.

Cloudbreak in Fiji.. I could just keep going, there’s so many. Haha

Haha, you’re right! Ok, so now time for the most scary story from shooting in the water, haha Any sharks? is it really dangerous, have you ever had close contact with one?

I’ve had moments and one very specific one when I was out swimming and shooting by myself before sunrise. I saw a dark fin break the surface out of the corner of my eye. I was actually excited at first as it’s usually dolphins and I thought one had come really close. But then when it didn’t surface and I saw a whole pod of bait fish only a few metres away I thought it would be best to make my way in.

Sharks are the most incredibly perfect creatures and are mostly misunderstood and unfairly used as media headlines. They should be studied with fascination as opposed to feared.

In saying that, no, swimming or surfing is not dangerous in the fear mongering sense. Sharks are the most incredibly perfect creatures and are mostly misunderstood and unfairly used as media headlines. They should be studied with fascination as opposed to feared.

While I am very much on the side of knowing that going into the ocean is going into their territory it’s also incredibly unlikely that you will encounter a shark at all, and even if you did, that it would escalate into any kind of attack, despite what the news would have you believe.

One of my bucket list items is to go and learn even more about them and photograph them with one of the eco cage diving companies. 

Back to Newcastle, when is the best time to visit, where to stay?

I guess it depends on your reason for visiting. Newcastle is very much a beach town so Summer is a no brainer for beach days and late sunsets. There is next to no surf in Summer though so come in Winter for a better chance of getting waves.

My favourite time of year is April / May when the mornings get a bit colder but the water is still warm and you usually get a few pre-winter swells and a lot of colourful sunrises.

There’s a growing number of AirBNB houses in town now so I’d stay at one of them as close to the beach as you can find.

Favourite places to hang out?

My favourite breakfast café / restaurant is Talulahs in The Junction 

My favourite spot to drink a coffee in the morning is Blue Door at Merewether Beach

My favourite spot to drink a beer or bottle of wine on Sunday afternoon is The Merewether Surfhouse

My favourite fish & chips is Ridge Street Takeaway

My favourite dinner takeaway is Don Beppino’s

My favourite place to go out and eat is Sushi Revolution in Hamilton

Anything worth seeing, must do while in Newcastle / nearby area?

Apart from the beaches which is obvious.

The vineyards are only about 40 mins away. I love wine and the Hunter Valley vineyards is a great area and great day out or weekend away. 

Port Stephens is around an hour away and is beautiful

In Newcastle itself, if you’re here on a weekend there’s a really good farmers market and also a couple of great product and art markets. There’s a really great creative community in Newcastle so any of the local events are definitely worth checking out. 

Australia is a very big and diverse country, so my advice would be to not to try and tourist site hop to see everything, but rather pick a place and spend some time there to get to know it.

Any tips for people that travel to Australia for the first time?

Would be the same advice for travelling to any country for the first time. Immerse yourself in the culture, don’t judge anything, just embrace it. You’re only visiting, so do everything you can to really understand the unique way of life of wherever you are.

Australia is a very big and diverse country, so my advice would be to not to try and tourist site hop to see everything, but rather pick a place and spend some time there to get to know it.

And get out of the city. The smaller coastal towns in Australia are incredible.

Check our Newcastle Travel Guide HERE