When Flame succumbed to a brain tumor in October 2005, his friends and loved ones decided to keep this legacy alive by creating the Follow The Light Foundation. Now in its fourth year, Follow The Light awards a $5,000 grant to a deserving, up-and-coming photographer. In years past it's gone to names like Chris Burkard and Todd Glaser, two of the most respected young lensmen in the field right now.
This past Thursday at the Surfing Heritage Foundation in San Clemente, we honored the fourth recipient of the Follow The Light Foundation grant. All five finalists had incredible portfolios and were deserving in their own right: Patrick Ruddy and his ability to make the East Coast look world class; Myles McGuinness and his striking lineups, Brian Nevins' mastery of the mood photo; Karl Steindler's frames of fun.
But when master photographer Aaron Chang opened the envelope, it was former coal miner (yes, coal miner) Ray Collins, whose incredible water imagery blew away the judging panel. Collins, who lives on the South Coast of New South Wales in Australia, is getting plenty of experience in the wide-open slabs around his home. But it's his command of light, his variety and his pure passion for chasing that "perfect image" that will propel this photographer for many years to come. "Whether it’s a shot of a candid line-up, a pulled back water shot of an empty, distant peak or a wide-angle liquid explosion detonating into the reef a few feet away," says Collins. "I believe that part of me is woven through each photo."
Collins plans on using the grant to enroll at the Institute of Photography. "I feel that studying the craft will take me to the next level," he says. "The best things haven't been shown yet."
Spoken like a true student of Flame.
For more, go to www.followthelightfoundation.org.