Aquabumps’ Eugene Tan on the Art of Photography and Beauty of Koh Samui

If you often find yourself wishing you could spend your mornings at the beach rather than embarking on yet another gruelling commute into the office, then you’d probably love Aquabumps as much as we do. Photographer Eugene Tan, better known as :: uge (pronounced “yooj”), runs Aquabumps with his wife Debbie. Their daily emails add a whole lot of surf and Bondi-loving to our inboxes and get us amped up for the day (if we’re not chucking a sicky and going for a surf ourselves).

If you haven’t seen :: uge’s photos, go to the Aquabumps IG page now. We can wait.

Well, we were able to coax :: uge, Debbie and their boys, Jet and Spike away from the surf of Bondi for a few days and to the peaceful waters of Koh Samui. There we were able to learn some of  :: uge’s photography secrets and find out what he and the family loved about their island getaway. Read on for the good stuff!

How did you find the beaches of Koh Samui?

Courtesy of Aquabumps

The water is warm, and while a lot is developed, the west side of the island is quieter and so too are the beaches. Our favourite was Nikki beach.

How did the waters compare to Bondi?

The water in Koh Samui wasn’t that clear – but it sure is warm. It’s like a bath. Quite different to the waters of Bondi where firstly there are waves, and the water temperature can range between 16 degrees and 24 degrees.

Did you have a favourite spot to shoot while you were there?

The pool at Villa Haineu || Courtesy of Aquabumps

The sunsets out the front Villa Haineu were magic, and I enjoyed shooting Nikki Beach.

Your IG account is awe-inspiring. Are there any good apps you use to edit your photos?

No not apps as such – most of what you see is straight out of the camera with a few tweaks here and there. I also have a google pixel phone, that takes amazing photos for stories etc.

Quick facts – Where They Stayed

Villa Haineu

  • Villa Haineu is a 5-bedroom, 7-bathroom beachfront home in Lipa Noi, on Samui’s west coast, designed with the historical Ayutthaya palaces in mind.
  • The living areas are spread across several pavilions housing dining areas, bedrooms and the main lounge area.
  • The main pavilions open out onto a 15-metre swimming pool with jacuzzi.

Baan Chao Lay

  • Baan Chao Lay features five bedrooms and five bathrooms with one powder room.
  • Four of the five bedrooms are set in two pavilions on either side of a stunning fish pond. The fifth bedroom faces the ocean.
  • Each of the five bedrooms has a king-size bed, en-suite bathroom with a stand-alone rain shower, and a private garden.
  • The villa features direct beach access, a 12 x 5-metre pool, a hot tub, beachfront sala and fish pond.

What type of set-up do you use when you’re on the move or do you find yourself using your phone a lot?

Debbie and Spike || Courtesy of Aquabumps

I use my phone for stories and things, but most of the photos I take are from my Canon camera. I also use a drone for videos and stories – but you don’t get high res fine art images from a drone, for these I fly and shoot from a chopper. I used my Go Pro quite a bit in Thailand – so there are lots of gadgets that come with me everywhere.

Do you have any advice for the casual photographer?

Pick a subject that your passionate about and stick with it. That way, the more you shoot it, the better you will get. Be consistent.

How did Spike and Jet enjoy Samui?

:: Uge, Spike, Jet and Debbie at Samui Elephant Haven || Courtesy of Aquabumps

They loved it. They are full of energy our boys, so they loved the day with the elephants as did my wife and I and they loved the ziplining.

You stayed in two villas, Baan Chao Lay and Baan Haineu. How were they for the family?

They were great. Both on the beach and with pools and staff for your every need. What more could you ask for!

Most photogenic parts of the two villas?

Magical sunsets? Check! || Courtesy of Aquabumps

The sunsets from Villa Haineu and the outlook from the pool to the beach at Baan Chao Lay.

What are you photographing?

Elisabeth Forsman

Our predictably unpredictable adventure nomad, Elisabeth is the yogi who wants it fast, the ultra-runner who prefers taking a hike, and the swimmer with a fear of lap pools. A consummate lover of all things outdoors, she’s on a perpetual quest to get those around her outside and moving.

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