Thurston’s passion for wave photography and oceanic endeavours has developed from a lifestyle of living by the coast and his immense spirit of adventure. His enthusiastic nature and thirst for revelation has taken him to some of the wildest places on earth in his wholehearted pursuit of transforming “Energy into Art.”
Thurston grew up with two older brothers, whom both pursued and excelled in professional wave riding careers. Phil however, was more of an artistic individual, embodying a gentle spirit that didn’t contend well with the competitive nature of surfing. After growing up riding waves he traded the board in for a camera at the age of 17 during his first trip to Hawaii.
“My personality wasn’t aggressive enough to catch even a single wave in the menacing arena that was the north shore of Hawaii.” So with that realisation, he decided to document the island from behind the lens. And never looked back. Now in his thirties, Thurston has an impressive portfolio of ocean photographs that have attracted collectors and investors from all over the world. Yet, his approach to his craft is somewhat unconventional..
“My idea is to transform energy, into art. However, it’s not so much transforming, it starts with firstly acknowledging that the ocean is a form of art."
Photography is simply creating a personal representation of what has already been made. I realise that I don’t create the waves, nor did I have anything to do with the organising of the elements. What I do is, learn how to show up at the right time and encapsulate the moment into a frame by means of positioning and discernment of the environment. It’s a collaborative role that I play, and the ongoing acknowledgement that a greater hand is at work has given me a lot of revelation and meaningful reason of why I do what I do. Sure, I put my name on the photo and take credit for the image, but the art itself, is solely the handiwork of the creator that I am building relationship with and trusting more and more through the pursuit of my passion. It's a faith defined by experience and encounter.”
“Waves are very beautiful and even symbolic, and I’m learning to see a lot more in a photograph than elegantly organised matter." The cooperation of light and water create a subject that compels me to seek something more profound and artistically inclined than that which my eyes reveal to me. When I’m immersed in nature, I see intelligent design, I see intentional energy and i see irrefutable purpose in every aspect of every detail, but above all this, I see a very clear, artistic flare woven through every living and moving thing."
“He’s the owner of every ocean, the engineer and sculptor of earth itself!” - Psalms 95:5
"My goal with my photography is not just to create a piece of art, but to collaborate with the master artist that created the subjects that I photograph in a way that provokes positive thought and inspires people to see life from a new perspective. Not necessarily my perspective, just one that is open to wonder and revelation, a perspective that creates room in the souls of my audience to find a liberating balance of both faith and insightful reasoning, that ultimately, leads to encouraging hope and joy in the observer."
"I believe this is the goal with art, to create something that people can enjoy and be inspired from, and the breaking wave has a very unique way of doing that.”
It’s ironic that a simple intention demands a devoted life to the harshest of elements. Thurston trains and practices his craft daily, being based on the South East Coast of NSW, Australia, he has studied forecasts and travelled extensively for the past 10 years to document the most powerful and beautiful moments of the breaking wave and oceanic events, yet what sets his work a part from others may just be his motivation and frame of mind that he enters the ocean with.
“I see photography kind of like treasure hunting, the gold is out there, hidden within moments of time and aligning elements."
"Some pieces more rare than others. Some that involve greater risk to obtain than others, and some that are worth far more than others. This obsession has led me to some of the most remote places on earth, coastlines, open waters and mountainous peaks that I would probably never have gone without a camera in hand and a zealous anticipation that I will discover the most valuable treasures on earth. But the final image is not a result of travelling and looking around, it’s an extension of the artists vision and character, an expression of what they’ve learnt and absorbed and ultimately becomes a message from the heart of the artist.. I feel like there’s a power in that, especially if the artist is pursuing the Fathers heart; God’s intentions for His people and the earth. In this way, my images have been said to carry a kind of supernatural distinction, that I guess has developed from my artistry and love for God.”
“This idea of finding treasure has indeed become a defining influence to the course of my life, but the most valuable things I’ve discovered, have not been photographs, rather they have been personal revelations and experiences that have given me valuable insight, wisdom and joy, attributes that you just can’t learn unless you follow the unction in your heart.”
I have always aspired to the verse in Colossians 3:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
“My art does not go on sale, so you can be confident in your investment, I pour my life into my work and believe it will bring a lifetime of atmospheric energy and enjoyment to your life and dwelling."