Stephen Salvatierra's inquisitive images from California's richer regions
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 19 March, 2017 - Stephen Amato-Salvatierra almost didn’t grow up. He drowned at age two. Dead drowned.
Fortunately his uncle was nearby and performed CPR. Stephen survived (obviously).
But more surprisingly, he jumped back into the water. Bigger water: bays, lakes, and oceans for diving and sailing. Soon after that, the surf bug got him. Then it was disposable cameras and surf runs with friends. Stephen's work since then shows a young man wholly curious with the ocean's moods, rythms, and textures, as he turns his lense on myriad ocean-going personalities and landscapes alike.
Where are you from and what do you shoot with?
I'm from San Jose, California. My camera quiver rotates a lot, but my staples are the Panasonic GH4, Nikon F5, and Nikons IV-A.
How did surf photography start for you?
Before I started taking photos of surfing, I was really inspired by legends like Jacques Cousteau and Hans Hass. I was doing a lot of diving and sailing at the time, then surfing came along. I was really attracted to the intensity and intimacy of shooting surfers from the water, so I started swimming out at Ocean Beach with waterproof disposable cameras, and it kind of evolved from there.
Share with us something that most people don’t know about surf photography.
I think most people don't realize that surf photography is really a group effort. The best results come from having a plan, communicating with the surfer/s, and spending time talking about what works and what doesn't. I really enjoy shooting with friends, as opposed to showing up at a spot on my own, because we take the time to think about what's going on and approach it as a team. That familiarity and communication tends to yield better results than shooting as a lone wolf. And it's a lot more fun.
Tell us about that one time you almost died.
When I was two years old I drowned, so my mom isn’t so stoked on me surfing. I don't remember much. It was the pool of the apartments we lived at. No fence. I snuck away and jumped in. The old lady across the way called my family to tell them I was at the bottom of the pool. I was in a coma for a bit and supposed to be in a rough state for life, but things worked out. I’m very fortunate, very grateful. and still trying to figure out why I’m so drawn to water.
Name one photographic image you saw that changed the way you approach photography.
It's really hard to pin down a specific image, but “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” has had a huge influence on my relationship with the water and how I experience it through the lens.