Luke Shadbolt is a renowned Australian artist, who stands out in the way he captures the power of water in his stunning images. His work has been exhibited throughout the world, he has collaborated with companies including Qantas, Tourism Australia, Michael Kors, and Audi and he has earned various awards, such as the Nikon/Surfing Australia Surf Photo of the Year (2014).

He describes himself as a perpetual optimist and a firm believer in manifestation; that your outlook determines your reality. He would like to visit and take photos in Antarctica and Greenland.

Luke grew up surrounded by nature and the ocean, which had a profound impact on his career path. He completed a degree in Visual Communication at Newcastle University and then worked as a graphic designer and creative director.

Everything changed when he got a job at an Australian surfing magazine. He started working with Phil Gallagher (then editor of the magazine), who was also a surf photographer and inspired Luke to go down the same path.

Another important figure who has influenced his future career is his mentor, Kiryn Clay, whom he met while working as a graphic designer. There’s also someone special he thinks of when asked about people who have left their mark on his work:

I think it is a great way to learn, having someone you can speak to one on one about a specific discipline over a long period of time. My wife has also been a huge influence for me, her creativity, drive, and work ethic are very inspiring.

Luke’s career is filled with accomplishments, such as being chosen as a top 20 exhibitor of Photo London 2017 by Brian May, and being acquired by the collection of the Parliament of Australia. His latest creation is his book, Maelstrom, inspired by the El Nino season.

The collection of images started back in 2016, and originally was all about showing the most violent and beautiful, and chaotic display of ocean I could find. The idea of balance is something that permeates through all of what I do.

The first images became an exhibition I held with Michael Reid Sydney, and I since travelled back to the location when weather conditions allowed and built up a body of work that I thought would work as a complete set in book form.

On his website, he adds:

Maelstrom documents the duality of nature; creation and destruction in a single act. It is an exploration of the balance of light and dark inherent in nature, both on a physical and sociological level. In this new body of work, an astounding array of environmental factors align in a sudden, fleeting, chaotic event, to produce an oceanic force that is unmatchable in its primal ferocity.

You can find out more and purchase Maelstrom here:

But his portfolio isn’t solely comprised of ocean photography. Luke says that through his art, he tries to convey the sublime in nature, exploring both duality and balance. It’s no surprise, then, that one of his all time favorite photoshoots was for Tourism New Zealand at White Island.

It’s a small volcanic island with a crater lake that is an eerie pale green colour. Plumes of smoke billow out from vents all around the island and there is a foreboding otherworldly feel to being there. Unfortunately, there was an eruption in 2019 and 22 people lost their lives, so it is now off-limits for visitors.

When looking at his photos, you find yourself asking where his creativity comes from and what makes his pictures so powerful? Luke says that if he were to name one or two vital aspects that make up a good photo, he’d go for composition and intrigue.

Furthermore, he adds, remaining creative isn’t the real challenge – being easily distracted is.

I think my best tip to stay motivated would be to go for a swim or a surf, go do something outside and active. Allowing your mind to switch off in nature is a great way to reset. 

When it comes to the role of technology – and increasing popular concepts like NFTs and the metaverse, Luke says there’s a lot to like especially for sales and editing purposes – and moving on with this idea, he adds that editing apps will need to allow for more integration across platforms.

The metaverse seems like something that I should pay more attention to, but I’m more of a fan of the real world. I’m actively trying to reduce my screen time.

To finish up, we asked Luke to share more about his plans for 2022. What does the New Year have in store for him and his family? Well, studies, more traveling and more time spent with his daughter.

I’m going back to university this year to study architecture, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. We’ll see if I can manage in between life and other work, but it’s an itch I need to at least scratch. My wife and I are hoping to get back to New York this year (we had been living there since 2018, but came home to Australia just before the pandemic to have our first baby).  Other than that, I’d love to travel a little more as long as safety permits. Most importantly though, spend as much time with my near 2-year-old daughter Suki as possible.

Learn more about Luke Shadbolt and his work on


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