san diego, ca
south beach (it’s so underrated)
my canon eos 5 ds r. my 7d has been kicking since 2009. i love my spl waterhousing, but I’m sure the other waterhousings are just as cool for other photograpers. i recently bought the canon l series 100-400mm and really love this lens.
a true artist doesn’t limit his work to a single outlet but instead is fluid. exploring the avenues that become present in any given moment and finding beauty in the elements that are revealed is how our friend and surf photographer lou lozada has spent over ten years now. getting into his head, connecting it to his passions and transforming it into something that hopefully resonates with those who have the opportunity to see it.
we’ve spent the last few months exploring around san diego with lou and had the chance to finally get in the water with him for a day for a first hand experience of what it’s like to be the one behind the camera, getting pounded by waves and having the patience and energy to wait to capture that perfect moment. maybe we didn’t get inside of lou’s head, but we sure feel like we know a bit more about how the beauty he brings to life happens.
take a few to get to know lou through our Q & A below and you’ll never look at a wave the same again.
what interests you about surfing?
i’ve never been a great surfer, shooting good surfers in good waves was always a lot more fun and i discovered i was pretty good at it. eventually, i started shooting from the water, which i discovered was even more fun than shooting from the beach.
how did you get into surfing photography?
back in 2003, i had a small ad agency with two other partners and some freelancers. one of our clients, a minor-league hockey team, had next to no money, so i’d have to pull favors for outsourced work, including photography. one day, i decided i had gone to the well once too often and rather than ask my good friend for more free photo shoots, i bought a camera for the office and shot some in-game photos for our client. three or four days after buying the camera, we had one of our classic south beach swells – big, emerald slabs, hollow, with offshore winds [and i went out with the camera]. one of the photos from that day went “viral” which back in those days meant everyone emailed it to all their surfer buddies, all around the world.
outside of that first photo going viral, how did you know this was something you wanted pursue?
i’d shot very little before, it never really captured my imagination, until that shoot. i was hooked from that very first surf shoot. the first time i shot from the water was with a little nikon coolpix and a cheap plastic housing. i loved it. i bought my first spl waterhousing the very next day.
there’s so many photographers and so many photos of surfing, what makes your’s different?
my work only has importance to me. it keeps me entertained, humbled and in a state of awe toward the world.
if an individual likes the evocative quality of one of my beachscapes or appreciates that they can become part of the artwork itself, through my koitraits or simply get a buzz out of any of my work – that’s amazing, ’cause i’m just doing what i want to do. that it speaks to someone else is really mind-blowing, when you think about it.
who’s someone that really inspires you?
i really love the work of matt clark. his images resonate in ways that the work of some much more famous “surf photographers” do not. it’s just plain beautiful – and there’s not much more i can say about it that his work doesn’t do, on its own.
laurent pujol, from france, does some amazing work, too, and really pushes limits.
mark hill is more of a hero and friend. great guy with a very diverse portfolio. he was the first person to ask to publish my photos in a surf magazine. if that doesn’t inspire you to keep pushing, i don’t know what will.
outside of surf photography, i’ve always loved binh danh’s work.
anyone can teach you something you didn’t know before, or have overlooked, for one reason or another. no one else has the biases and filters that i have. that’s pretty humbling and amazing at the same time.
what’s brought you the successes you’ve had so far?
in my days in advertising what helped me most was stubbornness. i think people are calling it grit, these days. it’s the most honest answer i can give. had i not stood up for my work, i’d be exactly where i’m at now – out of advertising and happier for having left it behind. but that’s just my experience of the industry and i don’t paint with a broad stroke. “success” is a funny thing, and very dependent on perspective.
what’s most kept me inspired is complacency with my own work. asking myself: what can i do different here, even if no one else likes or responds to it. what will i emotionally respond to? that keeps me on my toes.
why would you rather be doing this than anything else?
it makes me happy.
it took me four years to perfect my chlorophyll print nudes. i have two kids, been in long-term relationships, worked full time and was involved in a zillion things, so i haven’t had the time to dedicate eight hours a day, five days a week to my artistic endeavors, but i just kept putting one foot forward and trying to keep some momentum and progress. when i finally had that first perfect print and was able to encase it successfully in resin, i can’t tell you how happy i was. it was a unique feeling that i’ll probably never forget.
that [time and] work has value to me: happiness.
how has being a dad challenged or motivated you in your pursuit of your creative passions?
i had always wanted to be a dad. i knew that from a very early age. i had an awesome childhood and wanted to extend that same benefit to my kids that my mom and dad bestowed upon me. even after i got divorced, i never wanted to be that “every other weekend” dad. it seems to me that there’s less and less of that as gender roles are updated and stereotypes are abandoned. part of this is being passionate about the things i do and trying to transmit that to my kids for their passions.
your perfections inspire us, thanks for pushing past the complacency to capture beautiful things. until next time…
Stranded on Land