Senior Editor
Staff

The Inertia

If you indulge in any kind of surf media, it’s more than likely that you’ve laid eyes on one of Marcus Paladino’s photos. It probably has a snow-capped mountain in it, a surfer wrapped in rubber, a stunningly good wave, or all three. Paladino is one of Canada’s best surf photographers, and he’s got a book coming out May 25 that proves it. Marcus Paladino’s Cold Comfort is a 320-page love letter to surf photography from Canada’s west coast.

“It’s been a dream of mine for a long time,” he told me from his home in Tofino. “It’s so exciting to see it all come together. I just got a message from my publisher and it’s shipping from the printers this week. I haven’t actually seen a physical copy of it yet, so I’m pretty stoked.”

The book, fittingly titled Cold Comfort, has been a long time coming. While it’s always something Paladino’s had interest in doing, a book just wasn’t feasible. Until something rare happened: a publisher reached out directly.

“They were like, ‘Hey, we love your work. Have you ever thought about making a book?’” he explained. “I was like, ‘aaah, of course I have.’ For someone in my line of work — very freelance-based — I’ve always wanted to make a book. Everyone I know who has made a book, though, says you don’t make a book to make money, you just make a book to make a book. It’d be a challenge to break even or a fun challenge just to find a publisher, so for them to come to me… I’m very grateful for that opportunity.”

Advertisement

Paladino cut his teeth shooting cold water surfing even though, just over a decade ago, he wasn’t even aware surfing existed on Vancouver Island. He picked his photography school because of its proximity to a mountain called Mt. Washington. Snowboarding was what he loved, but then he went to an event that would shift the trajectory of his life.

“When I was still really into snowboarding, I went up to Whistler for the Telus Ski and Snowboard Festival,” he said. “They have a contest there called the Pro Photo Showdown where they take a few of the best action sports photographers and they put together a slideshow of their work. Jeremy Koreski was one of the photographers in it, and at the time, I didn’t even know surfing in Canada was a thing. It wasn’t even on my radar. Then I watched his slideshow, and my mind was so blown. I was like, ‘holy shit, that’s Canada? This is on Vancouver Island where I live?’ I got super obsessed with his work and surfing and the cold-water stuff. Less than a year later, I moved to Tofino. That had such a huge impact on me.”

It didn’t take long for Paladino to immerse himself into Tofino’s culture. It’s a beautiful place — a rainy, cold water Haleiwa with a bike path, incredible food, great coffee, and a tight-knit, gum-booted surfing community — and he fell hard for it. That was in 2011, and he put almost all of his energy into shooting surf, despite other photographers’ warnings.

“As I was starting to get into it,” he told me, “other photographers were like, ‘No dude, don’t do it. Shoot weddings. Do something else. There’s no money in it.’ I just thought I’d rather shoot surfing and be poor and happy than be annoyed with what I have to do to make money.”

Advertisement

Now, all these years later, Paladino has cemented himself as a go-to, cold-water photographer, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s done warm-water trips; done the turquoise water, white sand, and palm trees; done the board shorts and hot sun, but in the end, it’s the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island that has his heart.

“I’ve kind of come to realize that I just like shooting in cold water better,” he said thoughtfully. “It’s just more enjoyable. The places you get to go are more visually interesting. I’m definitely biased because that’s what I started shooting and that’s where I live. But I’ve been to Hawaii and Mexico and stuff, and those places are amazing and have the sickest waves, but I guess I’m a cold-water guy now. For a while, I thought I had to go to all these tropical destinations to really be a surf photographer, but I really just enjoy being in the places where a lot of people don’t want to go.”

Editor’s Note: Marcus Paladino’s Cold Comfort will be released May 25, 2021 and is available for pre-order here. Follow Paladino on Instagram  and check out more of his photography at MarcusPaladinoPrints.com.

Newsletter

Only the best. We promise.

Contribute

Join our community of contributors.

Apply