Surf Simply has a small team of photographers and videographers who capture guests’ experiences both in and out of the water over the course of each week. They are rare in the world of surf photography in that they are shooting surf photography full time, five days a week. Photography is a creative calling, however, which means that outside of their ‘day job” each of them also has a personal practice where they explore their art and their interests through the lens of a camera. Marine Jaud is one of Surf Simply’s photographers; her personal photography pushes the possibilities of a camera and water-housing far into the realm of dream-like art, focusing on pastel tones and black and white renderings of ethereal and female-focused surf experiences, or pausing moments of chaos underneath the waves to focus on the beautiful blue bubbles. We thought it high time we share a selection of Marine’s photography and took the opportunity to find out a little more about how she developed as a photographer.
Can you share with us your journey as a photographer, from the first time that you picked up a camera to now?
I started swimming with a GoPro taking photos of the Surf Simply guests while they were surfing about 5 years ago, and I enjoyed it so much that I quickly upgraded to a digital SLR camera and water housing. Starting with the GoPro allowed me to really get comfortable in the lineup and learn how to position myself to get the right shots. Then when I started shooting with the digital camera I could really focus on learning how to use it.
I’ve watched a lot of videos online, did a few courses, and have been lucky enough to get advice from more experienced photographers. I think all of that and all of the time spent in the water each week helped me to improve and get better quite quickly, and it eventually became a full time job at Surf Simply. I shoot five surf sessions in the water each week now. I’ve also started shooting the food for the resort, which is very different from the usual surfing shots that I get, and I try to spend more time taking photos of my friends outside of work to expand my experience and knowledge.
How would you describe your photography and style?
I’m not sure how to describe my style yet because I feel as though I’m just starting to figure it out for myself. I’m simply trying to show my vision and perspective on genuine moments as they are happening.
Your day job is shooting in-water imagery for Surf Simply; when you spend so much time shooting in the water for work, how do you retain enthusiasm and creativity in your personal practice?
The enthusiasm is always there, I’m always looking for more ideas and concepts for my personal practice but I find it difficult at times to stay creative and I think that’s what stops me a lot from doing more personal photo shoots. Sometimes I have a very clear idea in mind of what I’m looking for and I’ll make it happen, but other times I don’t have an idea and I’ll go shoot anyway and work with what comes up. It can be that the light is great, or the subject gives me something I didn’t expect and it works out great.
And sometimes I finish a shoot feeling like I got nothing, not feeling inspired, and I give it some time before looking back at my shots and I’ll often end up seeing something that I hadn’t see before.
Are you able to create your more artistically expressive personal photography at the same time as shooting in-water for Surf Simply, taking opportunities as they arise, or do you have to keep them separate due to camera settings and maintaining your focus on the tasks at hand?
When I’m shooting for Surf Simply I stay focused on that task and avoid any distractions as much as possible. It becomes my priority. Everything happens very fast and I don’t want to miss a special wave or moment for a guest.
Having that said, it has happened on several occasions that I get really cool shots during those sessions – but it’s quite rare and it’s always been quite lucky.
Where or from whom do you take inspiration?
Mostly online, especially living in Nosara where I don’t have access to many magazines or books unless I bring them from outside of Costa Rica. I follow a lot of other photographers on Instagram that inspire me. Any type of photography, like wildlife, fashion, surfing, photojournalism, portraits… I also love paintings and some artists I find very inspiring. Podcasts and YouTube videos are also really helpful and hearing somebody else’s perspective is refreshing. I also have a lot of close friends that are very talented photographers or artists, and their creativity and work have definitely fuelled mine at times.
Did you transition to photography from another creative medium that’s informed your style and direction, or have you developed solely as a photographer?
I used to paint a lot, but just as a hobby. When I started taking photos I directed all my creativity towards that and managed to develop it in a way that I never could with painting.
What are your favourite subjects, settings and situations to photograph?
I love photographing my friends doing what they love, and what they are good at. I love also being able to photograph special little moments that no one has seen me take – they are difficult to get but really rewarding.
We ask every photographer whom we feature about their kit. What do you use to create your images? Your camera, lenses, housing and the fins that propel you every day…
I switched to a mirrorless camera two years ago because the weight is half that of my older equipment and it has made a big difference when swimming. The only downside is it has a shorter battery life.
I use a Sony a6500 in and out of the water. In the water I shoot with a 70-200mm (it gives me a bigger range on bigger days, or if I have a lot of people to shoot) and a 28-75mm for more close ups shots. I use a fixed 35mm for a lot of my shots outside the water. I have a SPL water housing, I really love the zoom gear on their housing. I use Dafin swim fins.
You can find more of Marine’s photography at www.marinejaud.com or follow here on Instagram @marinejaud.
*Portrait of Marine captured by Kai Elmer Sotto, drone image of Marine swimming with her camera by Harry Knight.