Explore the blue world of French photographer Ben Thouard
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 31 October, 2015 - The reef at Chopes charges a pain fee to all who enter, just ask Ben Thouard. Raised in France, he relocated to Tahiti after getting his fins wet at various surf spots around the world. And nothing can dissuade this sharp young man from surf photography, whether it’s getting dumped on the reef at Teahupo’o or watching $25,000 worth of gear sink into the abyss, he’s hooked for life.
Where are you from and what you shoot with?
I was born in the south of France but moved to Tahiti seven years ago after traveling the world for watersports photos. I’m now based at Teahupoo, Tahiti and shoot every swell that hits the famous tahitian reef. I try to mostly to shoot in the water with my AQUATECH waterhousing (unless it gets gigantic!) I use Canon bodies (1DX and 5DMIII) with all canon lenses from fisheye to 200-400mm
How did surf photography start for you?
I started surfing when I was eight and really fell in love with the sport. I was spending every free day in the ocean when i was a kid, that was my drug. One day I found an old camera from my father in our garage and thought that could be fun! I bought a few rolls and started shooting. I was probably 15 years old and it all started from then on. After I graduated I went to a photography school in Paris. At 19, did my first trip to Maui, Hawaii to start shooting windsurfing before moving to Tahiti when I was 22.
Share with us something that most people don’t know about surf photography.
Surf photography is a real work! I’m joking but I think lots of people outside of the surf industry think that we (surf photographers) are always on holiday, traveling to tropical places, just floating around in the water for fun. But in reality surf photography is a way of life; it is not just a job; it takes a big personal investment to be able to make a living.
And in the end, these days, it’s a lot of time working on the computer and a short time shooting in the water. Photography is guiding my life and I love it!
Tell us about that one time you almost died, on a surf trip or in the water.
There have been a few close calls while shooting in the water in Tahiti! I’ve got caught inside swimming at Teahupoo on a pumping swell when a 12 footer set came in, and ended up going over the reef, and hitting the bottom. But that’s just part of the job.
The heaviest story is that one time I flipped over with my ski and all my equipment while shooting a heavy wave close to Teahupoo, and in just a few seconds I lost $25K of equipment.
I barely made it over the wave; the ski flipped upside-down and so did I with my pelican case full of equipment (it was only half closed). I ended up swimming with all my gear that was sinking in the water and saw my ski drifting away. That was a hard one.
Name one image you saw that changed the way you approach photography
I would probably say the images of Scott Aichner that I saw when I started surf photography. He is the guy that re-invented surf photography and created some crazy new angles. We’ve actually never met, But I love his work.