Editor’s Note: First Light: Bo Bridges is sponsored by our friends at Bear Mattress.
Los Angeles photographer Bo Bridges is up at sunrise every day. Two hours of sleep. Eight hours. Doesn’t matter. He’s bubbling to wake up. Bridges scoots to his gallery in the South Bay in a golf cart with his dog, Lhotse, (named after the mountain in Nepal) with a fresh cup of coffee in hand. On the grey May morning we meet up, Bridges has a hydrofoil in the back. It’s his latest toy. A vestige of a recent shoot with Kai Lenny. He says the foil kind of terrifies him.
“You fall on this thing, and it’ll freak you out,” says Bridges. He says he’s still learning, but it’s a game-changer.
Having grown up in Florida and attended high school in Switzerland, it wasn’t obvious that Bridges would become synonymous with action sports photography in the beach community of Hermosa, where his murals carpet the town. Granted, he grew up skimboarding, skateboarding, surfing, scurfing…anything on a board, as he says. But photography – that wasn’t so obvious.
“I always thinking, what am I going to do for a living?” says Bridges.
“I got my EMT certification. I thought maybe I’d be a ski paramedic. I got my pilot’s license, I thought I could be a bush pilot. I studied marine biology. I thought maybe I could be a dive master. Photography was my major, but I never learned about the advertising/commercial side of it. It was all fine art, so there was never any talk of how to make money and how to sustain a living.”
He sold his first print as a teenager and never looked back. Since then, his skill behind the glass has put him in a variety of interesting situations: Seas full of sharks. Towing in at Teahupoo. (He said he had to give it a try during a shoot. He’s a braver man than I am.) Shooting Mission Impossible. Bridges’ work has a range.
Far-fetched visions for a boy from Florida who thought he might be a bush pilot.
“I really want to transport [viewers] to a place of beauty,” says Bridges of his work. “It’s kind of a whimsical thing. It’s a color palate that I chose, but they also have to agree on. Art in general is very personal. Sometimes I put up an image that I love, but other people aren’t as fond of it. But I have a true love for it, because I was there and I was in this moment and it brings back memories, and it’s fulfilling and rewarding to have someone buy one of your images and put it up on the wall. But I don’t want to get caught up in that either. I just want to keep shooting and keep shooting and keep shooting and focusing on that creative outlet.”
His commitment to craft continues to push him. The same vision drives him now that once drove him as a kid.
“There was this artist statement, and I wrote this thing, ‘Sometimes I see the bus in the morning, and I’ll run for it. But you see an opportunity, and you chase after it. I’ve always felt that. I’ve always done that in life. I just kinda chase my dreams.”
Video shot and edited by Ryan Trautwein.