I first was introduced to Nicholas Routzen via Jared Aufrichtig, who is curating our online art auction to benefit WAVES. I love the connections between surfers, those who create on a daily basis and the overlap with those who give back. Nicholas is a talented fashion photographer (and surfer) who has shot for Reef, Elle, Esquire, among others. He also makes it a point to use his skills to help others – for example his Fashion for Passion initiative. Throughout the interview, you’ll see some photos of him surfing, giving back after Hurricane Sandy, and some images he shot for a Fashion for Passion photo exhibition. He generously donated an image from Puerto Rico in support of WAVES’ art auction.
How did you get into fashion photography?
I grew up surfing, internationally, so I photographed a lot of my travels. Pretty much documenting anything that came into my path I was photographing. I was trigger happy! I knew I was really into landscapes and photojournalism. It wasn’t until I went to school for photography at Brooks Institute of Photography that I found my passion for photographing people. I had previously started shooting bands and surfers, but not until I had taken a few photo classes on people and fashion did I know it would be my path. After that, I knew it was going to be my profession–creating beautiful photographs of people with fashion/body emphasis.
What role has surfing played in your career?
I’d say growing up in and around the ocean and being raised in the surf community has taught me to appreciate mother nature and everything around me. The ocean has and always will humble you. I never forget that.
Surfing has brought me back to shooting a lot more on location, shooting fashion and bathing suits near the water, and keeping me traveling worldwide. I’ve made a strong push to get back to my roots and be near the ocean. With that said, I’ve been building a large amount of new work to revamp my portfolio and working with some incredible clientele. I am in the beginning stages of a massive new project, which is heavily based around sand, water, underwater. More to come on that 😉
Art. Surfing. Philanthropy. How do the three relate?
Art, surfing, philanthropy all relate in my opinion. As artists we’re incredibly fortunate to be creating for a living, and not only that, but to be creating what we love. I think there’s some innate part of a lot of artists (not all) that like to give back, help, donate, etc. The surfing community has always been about helping, keeping our ocean/beaches clean, and a healthy lifestyle. In the end, philanthropy becomes a normal party of our lifestyle, somehow/someway. I love to help others. When Hurricane Sandy hit last year myself and a few friends put together groups of teams in 15 passengers vans, donations, supplies, and pure sweat to help out the unfortunate hit by Sandy. It’s incredibly important and satisfying to help others who are in need of support.
Tell us a bit about the future of Fashion for Passion.
Fashion For Passion is a small charity fundraising organization that myself and a few others conceived a few years back. The original idea with FFP was to utilize the fashion industry to help raise funds for children in the arts and music. We’ve since found ourselves working with other children based non-profits helping them raise funds and funneling money towards their organization. I love the idea of being an umbrella that allows us to work with multiple organizations. The whole process has been very organic and grassroots, so there’s no rush. We want others to help because they actually want to help. Eventually, it would be amazing to have a full staff of FFP workers, but for now we’re only a small army.
What attracted your to support WAVES for Development?
WAVES for Development is an incredible idea that’s helping small communities. You guys share similar values (surf, community, ocean, philanthropy), so it’s an obvious move for me! I especially love the idea of those involved in WAVES building out surfing teachers for travelers and tourists coming to their communities.
How did you connect with Jared Aufrichtig?
Jared and I met in the Cape Town, South Africa, airport about a year ago. We both found ourselves waiting for our checked surfboards after our flight. Jared with his long dreadlocks and loud voice seemed like quite a character, so I figured I should talk with him about some of the local life. To my surprise, Jared was also from California and had a very interesting outlook on Cape Town and life in general. It was then we exchanged info and linked up only a few days later for my first Cape Town surf! I’ll always remember Jared saying, “Out of sight, out of mind,” when I asked him about all the sharks in the local waters.
Anything else you’d like to add?