The nature of modern digital photography is such that society is awash with photos of the ocean. Photos from the beach, photos from the water, photos from the air, photos from below. You name it, we’ve seen it. For modern surf photographers, we imagine that’s a particularly frustrating reality – to know that a medium has been artistically explored so completely that presenting it in a new way is close to impossible.
Enter tenacious Frenchman Ben Thouard. Some time ago, the surf photographer made Tahiti his permanent home. (Wouldn’t you if you could?) Ever since, Thouard’s been a staple in the Teahupo’o lineup – capturing the roaring celeste freight train that is Chopes in all its glory.
The progression of a career photographer, though, isn’t much unlike that of any other discipline. Increasingly Thouard grew tired of taking the same serene photographs of X surfer sitting pretty in a beautifully menacing tube, or snapping a still behind said wave with surfer’s fin and rail engaged.
The crystal clear Tahitian waters and the nature of the islands tubular surf allowed Thouard to realize one day that he could actually shoot Tahiti’s fabled landscape through a barreling wave. It was something he’d never seen before, and that more than likely had never been done before. He’d found his raison d’être.
Problem is, it’s not every day that conditions lineup, the sun is shining from the right direction, etc. But Thouard was dogged, relentless. And, after a year he had a collection of photos the likes of which may be some of the most original surf photography around. Perhaps the most.
“Surface” tracks Thouard’s journey and persistence trying to show the world a part of the ocean that’s never been seen before.
Film by ROAM Media.