Here at Grolsch Canvas we’ve always loved artists and individuals with an inquisitive streak – artists who aren’t afraid to leave their comforts behind in order to explore and document parts of the world they’d otherwise not get to visit. Photographer Kain Mellowship is a perfect example of how exploration can inspire creativity, having left his home in Australia to travel the world and eventually finding an affinity with countries such as Denmark and Iceland. We spoke to Kain about surfing, travelling and seeing snow for the first time.
Hi. Tell us a little about yourself - where are you from, where are you based and what do you do outside of photography?
Hey hey!! Thanks a lot for having me! I'm Kain, I'm 28 and I'm from Australia. I spent the first 10 years of my life growing up on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, where my family lived right next to a massive river system. It gave my 3 siblings and I endless opportunities to go exploring and have what I think was the best childhood I could've imagined. It was almost like an Australian version of The Goonies. My family then moved to the South-West of Western Australia, where I spent the next 15 years of my life being pissed that none of my favourite bands wanted to play in our isolated corner of world. The coastline and surf there are incredible, which lead to me taking up bodyboarding and spending every bit of spare time I had scouring the coast looking for waves. I decided to set-off on some long term travel in 2013. After a while, I decided to call sunny Copenhagen my home. I've been attending a language school to learn Danish, and taking short trips when I get the chance.
The traveling opportunities that living in Scandinavia has given me play a major role in inspiring me at the moment.
When did you begin shooting, what made you start and what has driven you to continue?
I started shooting pretty late I guess. It would've been late 2014 when I got my first camera--a little Minolta point-and-shoot. Before I bought my first camera though, I'd spent 6 months living and traveling in a soccer-mum van. I drove from the south of France(where I started my trip) and explored the coastline in search of surf down through Spain and Portugal before crossing the Strait of Gibraltar and spending a further 3 months doing the same through Morocco and Western Sahara. I drove a lot of kilometres and saw a lot of really wild shit along the way, but all I had to document it was a piece of crap camera phone. It still kills me to this day that I didn't have a camera to capture any of this. So the initial reason I started shooting was to ensure that I didn't miss these opportunities again.
Surfing in rugged and remote places, or “non-surf” destinations, is something that gets me really psyched. The combination of my surfing background, and the traveling opportunities that living in Scandinavia has given me play a major role in inspiring me at the moment. I've been lucky enough to surf in Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Sweden since living here and it's given me an unshakable urge to explore and surf more cold, remote, rugged places. I've had a really unexpected but encouraging response to photos from these recent trips, and that's given me a lot of drive and motivation to take more photos.
These photos were taken in some of the most isolated, untouched, and almost prehistoric landscapes i've ever experienced.
What do you shoot on?
As I mentioned before, I got my first camera late in 2014, which to date is still my favourite. I went on a surf trip to a tiny little town on the west coast of Denmark called Nørre Vorupør (yeah, you can surf in Denmark...sort of), and I randomly found this old Minolta Riva Mini point and shoot in a vintage store for 45 Kroner (about 7USD). I shot a bunch of rolls and eventually got them developed. The results were amazing and since then, that camera that came with me on most of my recent trips.
Over what span of time were these photos taken? What makes them stand out from your other shots?
These shots were taken between January and October 2015 from various trips to Iceland, Norway, Faroe Islands, and my current home in Denmark. These stand out for me as some of the most isolated, untouched, and almost prehistoric landscapes I’ve ever experienced. I think part of it is also because I had never seen or touched real snow before I came to Europe.
How do you think your work is affected by sharing it online?
Sharing online was originally a sort of travel diary that I could one day look back on if the internet doesn't break. It was also a great way for me to let my friends and family in Australia know that I'm not dead yet and to share my experiences with them all in the one place. Recently I’ve looked at it as a way to connect with like-minded people and potentially find folk who are keen to go out on some adventures together. I've been dreaming of going to Greenland and Svalbard for a long time now, and through Instagram I've been lucky enough to connect with a few people who have shared some knowledge and tips which could push me to finally make these trips. So I guess by sharing online, I've been given a lot of encouragement to make trips that I might not normally make. It's also nice to receive some nice words from nice people who enjoy my photos.
I've been lucky enough to surf in Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Sweden since living here and it's given me an unshakable urge to explore and surf more cold, remote, rugged places.
What do you look for when you’re taking a photo? Are you more concerned with the composition or evoking a certain feeling?
It's mainly instinctive for me. Something just clicks in my head and says “Hey! That looks pretty neat. Take a photo of that!”. Often I get too excited and just take a photo without taking any technical aspects into account, but I think that works well for me. The technical side of photography is definitely something I'd like to learn more about and improve on in the future.
Is there anyone you’d like to shout out?
Shout out to my sister Ebony Mellowship for her mad skills at Donkey Kong and Street Fighter, but also because of her commitment to her art. Thanks to my girl and biggest fan Monique Blume for the endless motivation and encouragement. Also a big thanks to all of my friends who took the time to answer so many of my dumb questions and helped me make some sense of what I was doing.