PHOTOGRAPHER INSIGHT: 2015 Winner Fiona Mullen from New Jersey

PHOTOGRAPHER INSIGHT: 2015 Winner Fiona Mullen


Fiona Mullen

Fiona in soft NJ Winter sun

18 year old Fiona Mullen was the winner of the 2015 Ocean & Earth Photo Search. Her images bestow a raw contrast of light and dark creating a deep emotional connection to each photo. Fiona don’t live on one of the world’s tropical shores, but has grown up in the suburbs of New Jersey in the USA her whole life. NJ may not have 30 degree (Celcius) days and 25 degree water but Fiona certainly has conquered the surf/ocean photography genre in the environment that she’s grown up in. 

In the first of our series of finalists, we’re pleased to bring you Q&A with the winner of the 2015 Search. 


I’m from Morristown, New Jersey, it’s about an hour from the closest beach so I’ve never had the ocean right at my fingertips. Although I am also an hours drive from the mountains where I love to snowboard and New York City where I enjoy shooting photos as well.

Fiona Mullen

THE MONEY SHOT // Tom Petriken at Asbury Park Pavilion

I got my first DSLR camera for my fifteenth birthday and messed around with it taking photos of my friends and nature. I would of course always bring it to the beach and that is when I started to get into surf photography. Then I saved up enough money for a camera housing and started shooting in the water and have been obsessed ever since!

When I first started shooting my images were nowhere near the level they are at now. When I started photography I had absolutely not idea what I was doing, I would laugh if I saw those photos now.

There was certainly a shift in what I was creating. I developed more of an eye for light and composition as time went on. Probably a year and a half into shooting I upgraded my equipment by working numerous babysitting jobs and started to learn more and more about photo. That is when I developed more of my own style, started to look at other photographers and artists for inspiration, and edited my photos more tastefully.

I have always loved the beach since I was a little kid. When I started to take surfing photos it would only be in the summer when it was 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 Celcius) outside most of the time. I wanted to shoot surfing more often and really capture what New Jersey surf culture was like so I started shooting in the winter (waves are better then anyways).

Surfing is not the first thing people think of when they think of New Jersey. Although it might not be the most consistent place for waves, there is still a prevalent surf culture here! Even in the middle of January when it’s snowing there could be a crowded lineup on a good day.

Jersey surfers are seriously dedicated and love what they do.

Although surf photography is one of my greatest passions, I do enjoy shooting lifestyles and portraits. My ultimate goal is to become a commercial freelance photographer shooting for companies and travelling.



My Camera bag, of course, includes my camera and some of my favourite lenses.

I have my trusty canon 7d which I hope to upgrade soon and my 24mm, 50mm, and 85mm lenses.

I have my go pro as well in case I want to shoot some fun little videos.

My SPL water housing is also something I use pretty often.

Then I have some other things like hand and toe warmers, batteries, CF cards, chargers, film, film cameras and other miscellaneous camera accessories.



(PICTURED ABOVE) It’s hard to choose a favourite but if I had to narrow it down to just one it would probably be the black and white shot I have of New Jersey surfer, Tom Petriken.

I remember this day pretty clearly. We were shooting surf and the waves really were not delivering so I decided to get creative. We stopped in Asbury Park where they have the Asbury Park Pavilion. I have always loved this old building and saw it as a perfect photographic opportunity as we walked by. Most of the building is falling apart but this one symmetrical structure was still standing and made for a great photo.

Copyright Fiona Mullen 2015

Copyright Fiona Mullen – New Jersey USA

Fiona Mullen - New Jersey USA

Copyright Fiona Mullen – New Jersey USA

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