LIFE AS FINE ART: A WINTER SURFER, THE FROZEN SEA AND ME
Typically, if you’d visit my blog, you’d find uplifting client stories from inside the studio — typically the stories from boudoir photo shoot sessions.
But the premise of my business is so much bigger than boudoir photography; it is really about seeing your life in, as aptly named, Life as Fine Art.
In my work, I strive to show the poetry of people in their quiet moments; that often comes in many different forms. Sometimes, it is a matter of a designated wardrobe (like boudoir sessions), or sometimes it is about documenting someone’s life passion (like this story I am about to describe).
As a professional photographer, I feel it’s always great to try something different. At times, I like to take on quiet, creative, low-pressure projects at that help me expand both my photography skills —and also my experience of the world. It’s the world as shown by other artists. And I truly believe… we are all artists in some way, shape or form.
As a photographer, I love to observe people.
I am fascinated watching them do what they do; often when they don’t even know I am watching them. I can make observations about their persona, based on their subtle movements; their gait; their body language; and their expressions. I can tell how they feel about things, or how they look at the world. It is often, without any words on their part. This is a gift and a skill, and I am grateful to have it, as it lends to the work I do.
I like to see how people work or play, or how practice their passions. As such, I have many creative businesses as my clients, because they too can see I am passionate in seeing the poetry and nuances of their crafts and skills.
I somehow met Shawn Zappo on Instagram last year, as he was following my work. He is an author, a blogger, a vegan chef — and most interestingly to me, a renowned winter surfer. I hadn’t seen the extreme sport of winter surfing before meeting Shawn; and so it piqued my interest as a photographer. Upon doing some research, I discovered a whole subculture at the Jersey Shore of Winter Surfers. Of which, Shawn is a reigning figure among our beaches and in the surf community at large.
Living near the beach year-round, I am always entranced by how peaceful the beach looks in winter. I really value solitude and quiet so I love the setting. I think perhaps this is the draw of winter surfing too. It is a backdrop of the raging green half-frozen sea against the comforting nature of solitude.
Never a morning person, is only a handful of the best opportune moments in life that I have watched the sunrise. This morning, my assignment brought me to the beach in 38 degrees, with the warmth of the winter sun burning my face amidst the bitter cold.
Shawn emerges from his car, looking like a formidable lithe Navy seal about to enter the surf. We didn’t have much time for chatting and catching up, as he needed to catch the tide and maintain his faculties, already damp in the bitter cold.
I was fascinated by the process of preparing to enter the sea. I have a natural yet unhealthy fear of the ocean. I felt my pulse rise watching him go into the churning surf. But with my lens, I was able to see the peace in it — the peace that he seeks on a daily basis.
In the wee hours, the waves don’t come in kissing the shore in winter — they violate it. I kept my distance to stay dry, but took out the longest lens I had to try and be close to the curls that were enveloping Shawn. To a degree, I found this to be a cathartic way to face my fears, watching this whole process.
As the tide calmed and the sun rose into the sky, I found a more gentle sea, one that curved more deliberately, less angrily among the surfers. Not as much spitting them out, but letting them take their moments in the curl.
I stood on the shore, slightly freezing, but generally enthralled, observing the romance of the ocean. No matter how many times the shore sent it away, the ocean kept returning to kiss it again. I stood on the shoreline taking in the sounds and the gentle repeated longing at my feet. It was a good morning.
Photographed at Avon-by-The-Sea Pavillion, Avon, New Jersey
Shawn Zappo’s blog can be found at SurfandAbide.com
Interested in a photo session or a documentary for your business?
Photographer: CATE SCAGLIONE