How Stu Gibson uses his Yeti 400
You’ve probably seen the work of our Goal Zero Ambassador, Stu Gibson, before because he’s featured just about everywhere. Working to produce incredible surfing, aerial and adventure shots, we are proud to have this Tasmanian grown photographer as an Ambassador. We had a chance to sit down and catch up with him before he jetted off overseas about his work with drones, techniques, and his influences, plus how he uses his Goal Zero Yeti 400 in his photography gear.
How did you first get exposed to photography?
From memory, my brother and I used to take water photos of each other surfing with a disposable camera, just like most young surfers did. I then became obsessed with video and editing. My big break came when we filmed a new big wave spot in 2012 at Shipstern Bluff. When I was in the water I realised that while the footage was good, I really just wanted to take one good photo of the place. Not long after that I unfortunately had a string of sidelining injuries. My good friend Andy Chiza had a Canon EOS 5 still camera which he was kind enough to let me borrow. I searched and bought water housing for it, wasted plenty of film at the local beaches just to get things right whilst rehabbing my leg. And then the first real swell popped up at Shipstern Bluff. I took the shot and scored the cover of Surfing Life magazine and from then I was instantly hooked!
You’ve cited Sean Davey as an influence, how did he influence your thinking, photography and career path?
Sean is also a Tasmanian born photographer and has always been very open in helping people, like myself, break into a very tight industry. Back in the day a lot of photographers tended to be a bit protective but he helped me break in. Not only does he take incredible images, but he would guide me with any questions I had, from quoting jobs to camera problems. I think he made me realise that even though I was from a relatively unknown surfing location, just like him, I had a chance if I really worked hard enough.
You started shooting professionally in 2003, what were your biggest challenges turning your photography into a living?
It certainly was a challenge turning photography into a living, and something I knew very little about. I shot film until 2005 so the process from taking the image to actually selling it was pretty long! In those days it was all about the contacts you had in the industry and being loyal to the magazines and companies you were working for. You could have the best image in the world but it was hard to let anyone know.
What is your favourite thing to shoot?
Anything underwater, empty waves, surfing, sea life, it’s just so quiet and different underwater!
You seem to have an affinity for aerial stills, how do you use your drone to capture the photograph you have in mind?
I’ve been working with drones since 2013 so they are a big part of my workload now. It’s a love-hate relationship and I’m very conscious of where I fly them these days. They are starting to get a bad reputation, but you can’t deny that they take some of the most amazing stills and motion out there are the moment. I really try to plan a drone shot now rather than just launch it and see what looks good. A lot can be done from home these days to envision the shot before you even go on location.
A lot of your images feature the outdoors and adventure sports, what kind of gear do you take with you (other than your camera equipment) that you feel is a must for your type of adventure photography?
I live in Tasmania so it’s usually very cold if camping out. Even in Summer you have to prepare for the worst because the weather changes so quickly down here! I’m lucky enough to have some of the best camping gear around because my uncle used to own a camping store. I love Patagonia because they make incredible clothing. For longer stints in remote Tasmania I have to take all my Goal Zero gear. From small lights, solar panels, rechargers to my Yeti 400, all of it comes in handy to charge my phone, go pro, SLR cameras and drone batteries!
You’ve been using your Yeti 400 over the summer, on what kind of trips do you make it part of your gear kit?
Since getting my hands on the Yeti 400 it hardly leaves my car! Most of the time when shooting drone jobs at home I’ll be working out of my car, so as soon as a battery is flat it goes straight on charge. For any other drone I usually have a minimum of five batteries with me, so if you continually cycle them through the Yeti 400 it’s basically a never ending drone battery charger.
How many drone/camera charges are you getting out of your Yeti 400?
It depends on the drone I’m using but most people could relate to a DJI Phantom battery. I’m getting three or more drone battery recharges using the 12 Volt cigarette adapter cable, and I charge the Yeti at the same time, so everything is always ready to go.
What other things are you charging on it?
If I stay out in my car and images are needed that night, I’ll be editing in the car with my laptop charging on the Yeti 400. It’ll also be charging my phone whilst on personal hotspot so I can upload the images remotely.
What’s your favourite thing about the Yeti 400?
My favourite thing is mainly that I can work all day from my car and never have flat batteries. The size to power ratio is pretty crazy, you hardly notice it in the back of your car.
What motivates you to continue taking pictures?
Although I started as a water/surf photographer I seem to have diversified quite a bit lately and find myself shooting something totally different every week. The images and equipment are always new and challenging which keeps me motivated. It’s a struggle just to keep up with all the new cameras and equipment available these days so you can’t really lose motivation when the creative opportunities are endless.
Stu Gibson posts across multiple platforms, so you can check his work out on his website, Facebook, Instagram and Vimeo. If you’re interested in learning more about the Goal Zero Yeti 400 or any of our other products, feel free to give us a call on (07) 3245 6190 and our tech specialists will answer any questions you have.