The Drifters Eye
You all know the scene as you walk through the door of your local surf shop, this could be any shop anywhere in the world stacked with the latest boards, wetsuits and gear from all the big names as well as the local shapers newest creations lined up against the walls. The friendly owner (Pete Davies) behind the counter greets you as you enter and start to look around, and over in the corner the local groms jostle for position in front of the TV showing the next big surf flick with its images of faraway places. But if you look closely enough in this particular store in a small town in South Wales you will see one of those groms is not just drooling over the surfers, or the waves or even the exotic locations. He is analyzing those images in head, installing sequences and composing multiple layers of video into his young brain, creating a mosaic of raw footage that someday will be pulled from memory and used to create his own vision of what we all call a surf film.
Fast forward a decade, and miss spent youth stands Steven Clarey with his unique outlook on life. A rare breed of drifter on the edge of society choosing to live life his own way and creating some striking surf edits that shows he has a deep understanding of the equipment he uses, the footage he captures and an ability to mix imagery and sound selection together in a way that absorbs the viewer into our world.
Steven Clarey or “Clarey” to his imaginative bunch of mates spends his time hunting down anything and everything in the action sports world. He has created edits for the trials biking, kayaking, coasteering, roller blading, rock climbing and skateboarding to name a few as well as being involved heavily in the South Wales music movement, filming for local bands, festivals and companies. This to most would seem like a busy schedule but Clarey is still a full time student studying film and media at Trinity St David in Carmarthen.
It is the sea that is his true love though and Clarey is a regular lone figure at many Welsh breaks traveling with a close bunch of friends. If you turn up at a spot to find his lens pointed at the line up you can be pretty sure that there is no better spot to be at on that day. Clarey and “the boys” make it their mission to monitor, track and surf the best surf that arrives at these craggy Celtic shores. With talented surfers a plenty and scenery that will touch the soul of even the hardest human he is blessed with a subject matter that is outstanding to put it mildly. But anyone can point a camera, hit record and document an event, not many though see things in the way that he does. A rare few are blessed with the technical knowhow and capabilities to edit footage like Clarey can, his knowledge of his equipment is scary, he talks of his cameras, lenses and editing software with the same passion you or I discuss our board dimensions and fin set up. His eyes dance with excitement when talking of which equipment he has chosen to enclose into his water proof housing and paddle out with.
Here in lies another quality rarely found in the everyday “photog”, for Clarey is possibly more comfortable filming from the water than he is on land. When we surf together, or in his case bodyboard, he seems to get even more amped at the prospect of swimming around under the lip of a heavy barreling wave that any normal human would view as ridiculous, let alone when you consider that hugely expensive piece of kit strapped to his wrist, and the hours in the water it takes to put together even the shortest of edits then this guy really must love what he does.
I guess that really is the thing about Clarey, he loves what he is doing so much that everything else is secondary to producing polished, quality edits. And let us all remember that he does this not for financial gain, nor for personal satisfaction, he does this for what he considers to be his subjects, the surfers, the people he meets on his journey and he also provides us with the enjoyment of watching what we love the most, surfing.
Words by Mark Thomas.