How was it that you first discovered your love for the ocean and photography?
Growing up I spent a lot of my free time in the ocean learning how to surf, windsurf, and sailing on my father’s boat. I discovered surfing when I was 8 years old and ever since my first wave, I always wanted more and more. Surfing was all I would think about. Today surfing is guiding my life. Photography came later, when I was a teenager. Around the age of 15 I started playing with my dad’s camera, it was a film Tokina camera. Right away I would show up to the beach with the camera in hand to take photos. It was around that time that I started to enjoy taking photos of surfing, even though I wanted to be surfing, I was spending time with my camera. Slowly I learned photography and associated my two passions, surfing and photography.
Tell us about your family, have they been an integral part of your inspiration and development as a photographer? I have three brothers and they all surf, that’s how it all started.
We all fell in love with the feeling of riding waves and always pushed each other, but photography came to me separately. Out of my brothers, I was the only one who took an interest on it. I've been living now for 7 years in Teahupoo Tahiti with my wife and our 3 year old daughter, with who I get to travel with to many places. My surfing and photography lifestyle has allowed me to have a really good quality of life. I'm thankful for all of it.
Teahupoo is such a beautiful wave, what is your favorite thing about shooting there? Did you grow up surfing that wave? Yes, Teahupoo was on my mind since an early age. Some of my cousins were living in Tahiti when I was still a youngster. I used to have posters of Teahupoo on my wall as a kid way before I started photography. Those photos were the most ridiculous photos I’d had ever seen. Slowly I worked my way to Tahiti and it became my office.
Teahupoo is probably one of the most photogenic waves out there. As a photographer, Teahupoo has the best conditions one can wish for. My favorite thing to do is to shoot inside the water with just a pair of fins and my water-housing. I share my photography sessions with the surfers. Shooting surfing in the water takes team work. You need to connect with the surfer, being at the right place at the right second. It takes a lot of skill and time to get the right shot, I personally think this is the most rewarding work. When you come back with the shot you wanted, you feel extremely satisfied.
You cover an array of styles of photography; from underwater, to aerials, to surf and water-sports. Is there one in particular that you favor or enjoy the most over the others? If so, what makes that one style stand out? Yes, shooting immersed in water is what I enjoy the most because you’re feeling the oceans energy, it is alive. You feel every movement and you’re constantly working on your position. Being inside the ocean is where I feel the most comfortable. Even besides waves, I’ve shot quite a lot of underwater photos, I love spending time in the ocean and documenting what happens there.
What goes through your mind when you're shooting sharks, whales, and dolphins? That must be a neat experience and feeling. Yes, that's the best feeling ever! Swimming and shooting with whales is probably the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. Your mind is captivated by the moment, you think of nothing else than what’s going on underwater. Feeling those huge creatures interact with you is fantastic. There is a real sense of communication between whales and humans. They are curious and if the feeling is right, you can spend hours playing with them. I remember one time, I was far out with my boat in the ocean when we met a whale and its baby. We slowly got in the water and allowed them to come to us. I think we spent three hours and a half with them. The baby was very curious and was playing with us. The mom was looking after her baby but would let it play with us. We were not moving at all, just staying at the surface while the baby and its mom were going back and forth from twenty meters deep to the surface. Unbelievable!
Tell us about what photography has taught you as an individual, how do you think it has influenced you as a human being? As a photographer, I’m very orientated to Nature. Some photographers are more inclined to commercial and fashion photography but nature is my main line. I've learned a lot about respecting nature and its environment, Photography has taught me that. Today I don’t see the world the same way, I’m always thinking with a lens in front of my eye.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you? The best advice was to believe in my work. To always look for work in relation to what you personally want to shoot, no matter what or who it is for, and what you get paid to do it.
Favorite music to listen to while editing images: I listen to a lot of music and different kinds of genres but probably Ben Harper, Jack Johnson or Bob Marley. All of their music has a good vibe for editing.
Do you always shoot with digital cameras or do you use film as well? I learned photography at a school in Paris and we only used film. Now that I look back, that was such a great way to learn photography. I started with film and organically transitioned to digital. On my first trip to Morocco I only used film, then on my first trip to Hawai'i I used digital. Once I used digital I knew my last days with film were upon me and I'm glad everything happened the way it did.
Who are some of your favorite photographers and why?
I would say that there are two kinds of photographers that really inspire me. Chris Burkard's lifestyle and nature work truly takes people on a journey through his images and I admire that.
But also back in the day Scott Aichner who brought innovation to surfing photography with crazy new angles. He opened a whole new way to shoot surfing, being so close to the action and showing some unseen photos before. Now Brent Bielman and Zak Noyle are very inspiring guys as well. Those styles of photography guided me through my photographer’s journey.
Tell us about your current projects, is there anything in particular that you are working on, or looking forward to visiting for shooting? On top of shooting surfing in Tahiti or anywhere the sport/job can bring me, in 2014 I started working with a big television production company for a documentary around the world. We traveled throughout the islands of French Polynesia for a few weeks shooting aerials, underwater, lifestyle, and general cultural stuff. All that would document Polynesia in its best way. 2015 and following years should be filled with new travels. I’m very excited to discover new destinations and shoot different things.
Surfing will always be a big part of my life but I’m also stoked to move forward and shoot some more general stuff.
Anything else you would like to add?
I would really like to thank my sponsors who support me and my work.
AQUATECH who creates the best water housing's in the industry. I’ve been working with them for a long time now and they are my main sponsor. Without them I wouldn't be able to create all those amazing underwater photos. Also Air Tahiti Nui who allows me to travel anywhere in the world. F-Stop for the photo bags. Finally and more recently Smugmug and their amazing team who helped me work on my website to enable me to showcase my photos in the best possible way. Thank you all as well for stopping by.