Cait Miers is an independent surf, fashion and lifestyle photographer whose raw and genuine style has seen her carve out an inspiring career as one of the world’s leading photographers of women's surfing. We caught up with Cait to chat about how she took her teenage dream and turned it into a freelance profession.
Early on, Cait knew that she wasn’t built for the 9-5, but like most, she hadn’t worked out which path to set off on. A keen interest in sport saw Cait enrol in Sports Science at uni before she quickly decided that wasn’t for her. She shifted lanes and spent the next three years completing a Bachelor of Photography at RMIT in Melbourne.
The experience of studying photography was a bit of a mixed bag for Cait. The technical aspects stretched her and the studio and extensive editing work never really resonated. But along the way, she taught herself how to shoot in the water and by the end of her degree, Cait had found her niche; she knew she wanted to photograph women surfing.
Photo by Cait Miers
‘I love to showcase the elegance and femininity of women in the water because that was something that wasn't really getting shown.’
Since completing her degree in 2014, Cait has worked hard to weave her way into the surf industry. Undoubtedly, her dedication to networking, travelling, and shooting has earned her position as a leading photographer of women’s surfing. But from our chat with Cait, it’s clear that her warm, relaxed attitude and commitment to delivering have made Cait a top choice for premium brands and world-class athletes.
Cait’s style has stayed pretty consistent over the years. Not one to sweat it trying to nail the ‘perfect shot’, instead, she looks for the in-between moments; tiny nuggets of gold conveying an organic and natural beauty.
There is an expectation for commercial photography to be so polished these days that airbrushing is the norm, and it’s becoming exceedingly difficult to differentiate between photos and computer-generated images. Cait’s fashion work defies this expectation. Instead, her images retain an authenticity that elegantly celebrates imperfection and femininity.
A self-confessed non-perfectionist, Cait applies the same laidback approach to editing as she does with shooting. Working almost exclusively in Lightroom, Cait’s biggest editing challenge is colour. The deeper beneath the surface of the water she shoots, the more colour correction is required to keep skin tones intact.
‘I just have a play, and then once I see what I like, then I'm like “cool”. I try not to overthink it as well because that's when you just waste time.’
Surprisingly, given the rough conditions she works in, Cait has only had two camera bodies in her career. Starting with the Canon 7D, she later stepped into full-frame with the Canon 5D IV body and has been happily shooting on that ever since.
From the beginning, Cait has relied on the AquaTech water housing system to keep her gear dry. If shooting in the water with a longer zoom lens, she will pair it with a flat port and zoom gear to give her full access to the entire focal range of the lens. When shooting with the fisheye or 16-35mm lens, Cait will opt for a dome port to help counteract the diffraction that can occur when shooting in the water with a wide-angle lens.
Today, Cait shoots global campaigns with brands and agencies from all over the world. She also spends months at a time documenting the epic athletic achievements of the World Surf League and the beautifully human moments in between. Like all creatives, Cait admits there have been times when her confidence is low or inspiration is lacking. Still, she overwhelmingly loves what she does and encourages anyone interested in underwater photography to just go for it.
‘Every time I'm in the water shooting, I just get this wave of “this is why you do what you do” because what better office is there?’
Photo by Cait Miers
Her teenage dream of being her own boss, travelling the globe and living a life of her own design is now her reality. Having ticked off a lot of personal photography goals, Cait now wants to help others do the same. Early in 2019, she set up The Clique, a space for woman photographers to garner industry knowledge and develop the confidence to launch their own photography careers.
‘Fear probably suppressed me a little bit early on in my career, and then once I got over that, things started to happen for me. So just do things in your own way, I think. Try not to get too influenced by people or gear or anything around you.’
Cait has now based herself in the warmer waters of the Northern NSW coast, but travel remains an elemental component of her work and lifestyle. She continues to chase world-class athletes up and down the beach, but now she devotes much of her time to building The Clique platform. What began as running surf photo workshops in Byron Bay has grown to include multi-day retreats, online courses, private coaching and an entire online community dedicated to supporting, encouraging, and inspiring one another.
Check out the entire conversation here to learn more about Cait and her photographic journey.
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