I vividly recall reading about Jarrah Lynch and his dad Wayne in an issue of Paper Sea Quarterly years back, and remember thinking that he was someone who I’d gladly hear more from.
But then he slipped my mind, until a few weeks ago, when Patagonia shot me a link to their stunning and important new film, Never Town. The photo package they sent through came with a number of beautiful frames credited “Jarrah Lynch”. Lightbulb. A quick Instagram hit later revealed that it was indeed the very same Jarrah, and that the photos were no one-off. I hastily filled in the contact template of his website, and Jarrah quickly hit back.
I often daydream about having parents less conservative than my own, and figure that growing up with someone as influential and enigmatic as Wayne Lynch as the primary male in your life, must lead to a left-of-centre childhood, and an interesting take on it all. Jarrah, now 27 and still living in his native Victoria, confirmed my theory.
“I had a pretty incredible childhood,” Jarrah tells me. “Growing up in the country saw many adventures up and down the coast by both land and sea. I’ve seen a lot of Australia, spending time in Aboriginal communities through central Aus, as well as a lot of trips overseas with my family. We lived on a pretty special property on the coast in Urquharts Bluff and had a little shack deep in The Otways that we spent a lot of time at in the 90s. It had no power, no running water, only a small water tank and no toilet. We would shower at a waterfall that was a couple minutes down the road. In the warmer months all these things were great, but in winter the water was freezing and you got good at taking quick showers.”
Jarrah flirted with the vocational surfing thing in his younger years, but eventually bypassed it to pursue the hobby that he picked up as a child and quickly turned into a passion: photography. During the extensive trips that he took with his parents in his formative years, Jarrah would take photos on a little point and shoot gifted to him, and used to burn a fair chunk of his pocket money on film and getting it developed. He used to get disappointed when his shots didn’t turn out quite the way he pictured, and admits that, “I still do in fact.” His subject matter, unsurprisingly, was his surroundings. The thing that makes that notable, is that Jarrah’s surroundings weren’t akin to most 12-year-olds.
“Being self-taught you look for anything and everything to shoot so you can learn,” Jarrah explains. “Nature was always available to me. I’d hike up mountains to waterfalls, or trail ride into the country or walk 20 kilometres along a beach and just shoot a million shots of what was in front of me. Or spend the better part of the night shooting the milky way or a lighthouse. It was all a learning curve for me to wrap my head around the technical aspect of shooting.”
When it comes to photographic inspiration, Jarrah mentions friend Ed Sloane and Woody Gooch as peers who inspire him. But Paul Nicklen is the man who he credits with being his major influence, “not only for his imagery, but for his environmental work as well.” Which brings us to one of Jarrah’s key concerns, both in his work, and in his personal life—the environment. It’s not surprising that Wayne Lynch’s son has inherited his father’s contempt for the human race’s treatment of the natural world, and it’s something that Jarrah speaks passionately, and knowledgeably, about.
“We face economic problems in this country, but I think our largest failing is our environmental impact and social conscious,” Jarrah tells me. “We are falling behind the rest of the world in renewables, ranked fifth worst for emissions and policies among developed countries and just as bad when it comes to climate action. Our marine conservation is lacking, more and more of the Great Barrier Reef is being lost, with mining and oil drilling threating areas around Australia. It’s a constant fight to protect this wilderness which we all need whether we set foot in it or not.”
Jarrah goes on to highlight our rampant and unnecessary meat consumption, as another huge factor that could, and should, easily be altered.
“Animal agriculture produces more emissions than the entire transportation industry combined,” he says. “It’s responsible for 51% of all emissions worldwide, and 91% of deforestation, which in turn is the leading cause of species extinction. It uses a third of the earth’s fresh water, and the land used for livestock covers 45% of the earth. 90 million tons of fish are being pulled from the oceans each year and for every pound of fish caught there are five pounds of unintended marine species caught and discarded as by-kill. We are killing the planet and ourselves for the sake of our taste buds.”
As for the now, Jarrah’s got plenty on the boil. He shapes his own boards under the Lynch surfboards title and continues his work with Patagonia, who he’s been involved with since they first launched in Australia in 2008.
“At the moment working on imagery for a couple ad campaigns, and will be travelling north to shape a few boards on order,” Jarrah says. “I have a couple of surf trips planned in Australia with my old man. And as for travel, I’ve wanted to go to China for a long time and also to Ireland. I have family ties to a part of Ireland and would love to see the country and where my family is from.”