The Caribbean taught him to love water, SoCal offers a studio
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 7 August, 2017 - Imagine being hurried away from the mall lands of Southern California to the backroads of the Caribbean island of St. Thomas at a young age. What would it do to you? For Nathan French, who would spend days on end in the water body surfing, snorkeling and fishing, it seeded a deep love for nature and the ocean.
Fast forward years later and his return to the freeways of Southern California. Nathan picks up a camera and starts trying to capture that ocean bliss he first discovered in the Caribbean. Not an easy task, but his photographs manage to reveal that deep connection with the sea despite the modern chaos of California swirling around him.
Nate Yeomans © Nathan French
Where are you from and what you shoot with?
I was born and live in San Diego, but lived in the Virgin Islands for seven years, and all over California, including San Francisco, Mammoth, and Orange County. I shoot with Canon and SPL gear.
How did surf photography start for you?
I’ve been drawn to the water since I can remember and have been fortunate to live near the ocean the majority of my life. I grew up surrounded by surfing and fell in love as soon as I rode my first wave. Seeing amazing shots in magazines made me want to take pictures from the water, but there were not as many gear options for a broke teen in the 90s as there are today. Once technology and my budget aligned (around 2007) I got some gear and dove in.
San Francisco Bay © Nathan French
Share with us something that most people don’t know about surf photography.
Surf photography is fun, expensive, rewarding, frustrating, and dangerous.
Tell us about that one time you almost died, on a surf trip or in the water.
I’ve shot from the water in some pretty heavy swell before, and been caught inside plenty of times. One particular Mexico session comes to mind where I took all the sets on the head and came up pretty light headed after, seeing stars. I rallied and caught my breath and continued shooting but it’s a good reminder to know your limits!
Justin McBride © Nathan French
Name one photographic image you saw that changed the way you approach photography.
I am constantly changing my approach to photography. It’s tough to narrow it down to just one image in such an image-flooded era. Some names that have influenced my approach to surf and wave photography include: Flame, Stoner, Chang, Nelly, Noyle, Little, and Carter.
Sebastian Zietz © Nathan French
You can follow Nathan's work at: