A chat with Bosko: froth lord of surf photography

You’ll be hard pressed to meet someone who froths out as much as Bosko. Peter Boskovic has been shooting for over 25 years yet after most sessions his arms will be flailing and his eyes bugging as he talks you through what was happening out in the water. It’s sick. And he’ll be the first person in the carpark at dawn the next day to do it all again, guaranteed.

How long have you been shooting for?

My Dad used to shoot and as a cocky young guy I used to look at his photos and thought I could do better. I went surfing in Hawaii in ‘88/’89 and had a camera, it wasn’t anything special, but people saw my photos and told me I had a good eye. Every time I surfed and was paddling out for a wave with someone doing a cutback in front of my face, I’d always have that image in my head.

I went back to Hawaii in ’90 with another camera, shooting at Pipeline, and slowly began understanding what lenses and equipment I needed to buy. I never asked other photographers because I didn’t want to leech info out of them, I wanted to figure it out for myself the hard way.

What are the rules of a shoot if there’s more than one surf photographer in the water? How does it work?

You try to do your best to stay out of each other’s way – just pick the spot where you think the best part of the wave is and where the surfer will do a turn. There are a lot of photographers out there, we know each other and we know what the go is, but if we see some kid who gets in our way I’ll have to talk to them. It’s a free-for-all though, you can’t do anything about it.

Have you had a massive wipeout?

Yeah, I’ve nearly drowned a few times – in Hawaii and a few other spots. You gotta really be careful. Guys will go out who’ve never taken photos before and get caught in rips.

One of the most dangerous things is getting photos of guys coming at you at 100 miles an hour trying to do aerials and turns. If they’re trying to do a cutback and skip out, they can take your head off. It’s happened to me a few times and my waterhousing has saved my face. One time the housing knocked the guy’s fin out totally and another board got cracked and all it did to my housing was unscrew the wingnut. But if I didn’t have it in front of my face, it would’ve cut me right up or killed me.

There’s so many elements you gotta put up with – drowning, sharks – there’s been sharks around a lot lately – and getting hit by boards. It can be a pretty dangerous job.

Do you think the extra talk about sharks in the media gets your toes tingling?

Yeah, it does and with the surfers as well. I’ve been with surfers who didn’t want to go surfing in Western Australia by themselves to shoot photos because they said it was too spooky. I understand that.

I only recently shot with Craig Anderson and the sun was going down and we were in a very well known shark breeding area and I was like ‘urrggh’. The water was dark green and I couldn’t even see my feet.

You try to get it out of your mind and focus on the job at hand. If you sit out there freaking out about the sharks you’re going to go stiff and not concentrate. I think you’d have to be pretty unlucky to be hit by a shark.

Where’s your favourite place to shoot?

I like shooting everywhere really. Winkipop is rippable. I like Rocky Point in Hawaii, Keramas, some other spots in Indonesia and there’s some spots close to my home in Newcastle. It’s hard to say what’s my favourite spot, every spot has its day.

What’s it like working with surfers in the water?

If I’m sitting in a spot and I see some ramps I’ll say ‘don’t worry about doing a cutback just get as much speed as you can and aim for the section and do a massive air’. You have to have a certain distance between you to get the photo we’re after, especially with a fish eye.

Is there anyone you’ve had a long relationship with?

There’s a lot of surfers I love. Everyone is different – it’s just a pond with a different bunch of fish. They’re all unreal. I’ll work with any surfer if they want to work. I love doing what I do.

What keeps you frothing especially as you’ve been doing it for so long? What gets you back in the water?

I just love surfing. If I can’t surf, shooting photos and getting a sick photo gets me frothing. I hate missing a session, it drives me crazy.

If I have a bunch of guys with me and we’re going somewhere I’m always thinking, ‘What angles are we going to get? Who’s with me? What can they do? What’s the wave going to do?’. If I’ve got Ando with me and we’ll find a wedgy left, I know exactly what angle I’m going to do. I just froth out. I’ve already got the pictures in my head before I’ve shot it. If he gets the right wave and does a crazy air, things happen.

Follow Bosko on Instagram here.

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