Armed with local knowledge, her camera, and the drive to chase some of the best swells across the Northeast, Andreea Waters has documented the trials of New York surfing, its urban landscapes, and vibrant culture over the past few years. In what she calls her “paper baby,” Andreea is working with Schiffer Publishing to release a photography book, a passion project capturing the “energy and art of the surfer,” from Hurricane Sandy to the bone chilling NY and NJ winter swells. The book will present a glimpse into what it takes to surf in New York and the ever-changing tones and moods of the Atlantic Ocean.
“Surfers here have a unique energy, they have a remarkable passion,” she said. “And just like New York City, one of the most populous urban agglomerations and cultural capitals, the city surfer is everyone: men, women, pro surfers, incredible artists, firefighters, every ethnicity surfs here. It’s New York, a wealth of humanity and it is awesome.”
Andreea has rapidly become a staple in the NY surf photography scene, a position she accidentally fell into while taking a photography documentary course at the International Center for Photography in NYC. Struggling with her first subject, her teacher told her to “find your passion.” At that time she randomly found out that there is surfing in New York, which immediately intrigued her. After some research, Andreea walked into SATURDAY’S SURF, a trendy surf shop in SOHO, and simply asked “where are the waves?” which lead her to Rockaway Beach. Andreea still remembers her first steps on Rock. “It was a cold, foggy Friday in May. The waves weren’t special but there was an energy that spoke to me. That day sparked my love affair between my lens, surfers, and the ocean.”
What makes Andreea’s journey fascinating is that it’s a story about finding a new passion and working extremely hard to understand something that was once foreign. Andreea grew up in Romania where surfing was an unknown (she was introduced to surfing in San Francisco). “The idea of being an insider, capturing these transient moments, and being there to experience it was a sexy daydream,” Andreea told me.
In NY, Andreea forged friendships with the local surfers and eventually became a surfer herself. “Local surfers have taught me the ways of the ocean, surf etiquette, and have traveled with me on many wave hunting adventures,” she said. The more she shot, the more she learned about surf style, understanding the wave and ride, and anticipating where to point the lens to capture the perfect shot. “Putting yourself out there in any condition and light is key; repetition adds depth and meaning with your subjects,” she said. Because of that belief, her photographs are that much sweeter and visually interesting.
“The light and wave shape from each break is different,”Andreea pointed out as we looked over a few of her shots. “There is a certain mood and energy.” That energy provides her with a wide range of images for her book. But she is quick to point out that she will not disclose the location of the photos, some of which are coveted “secret spots.” She will feature surfers who have inspired her in an organic manner, with quotes about what surfing and the ocean mean to them. This book is a visually inspiring and authentic presentation of New York surfing; it is her “gift back to surfers, a celebration of ocean community, passion, and the New York surfer soul.”
For more of Andreea’s work, see her website.