Only 30 years old, French photographer Bastien Bonnarme has already documented international surf events such as the Roxy ASP Women’s Longboard Competition,the Belharra Wave, and the Nixon Surf Challenge. And as if that wasn’t interesting enough, Bastien is also a lomographer! We lent Bastien some of our cameras for his trip to Kamtchatka with the Nixon Surf Challenge Team, and we’re thrilled to finally showcase what he brought back from the great cold. Check out the photos and the exclusive interview after the jump.
Hey Bastien, tell us about yourself.
Bastien Bonnarme, 31 years old, action and lifestyle photographer.
We all have a little obsession or a trait of character of our own. Which one would best describe you?
I spend a lot of time bargain hunting on the internet looking for SLR cameras and photo equipment I would like to have. I spend too much time on my phone too.
Please tell us the story behind your debut in photography.
I discovered a passion for photography at the same time as the ocean when I was 17 and I borrowed one of my fathers SLRs. I became a lifeguard on the beaches of the Landes and the Basque Country during the summer when I was a student, to finance part of my studies and my first cameras. These two passions went along together to finally become my future profession.
What does it take to shoot the perfect surf picture?
The element : the ocean, an inspiring subject : an atmosphere or a surfer and passion.
Can you share a photographic story that left a great impression on you?
There are so many ! Often the best surprises come with traveling. Most probably, my pipeline accident during which I broke a brand new SLR (Eos 1d mark IV) on the reef. My head, my elbows and my knees hit the reef with the impact, luckily I was wearing a helmet. Then I fought hard against the stream to get back aboard while assisting a swimmer back to the shore. I was bleeding, and my feelings were switching between the anger of having so foolishly broken my equipment and the joy of being alive, I got scared that day and I realized that our lives hung by a thread… The crowded beach was looking down on us, damn… I wanted to scream…
What are your other passions aside from photography and surfing?
Before choosing photography as a profession, I used to play a lot of music. Nowadays I try to work-out whenever I get the time to and to keep myself informed. The surfing industry is going through a rough period and I spend a lot of time working. I almost never stop working. There’s not much time for other hobbies at the moment but it’ll change with time I’m sure!
If there was a place you could go surfing, any place at all, right now, where would it be?
The Maldives or the Mentawaii islands with my girlfriend!!
You were one of the official photographers for the Nixon Surf Challenge 2014 at Kamchatka. What is it that impressed you most about that region?
All the remnants of communism: the architecture, the statues, the streets. But above all the beautiful landscapes of this region which we have unfortunately not enjoyed enough. We’ll have to go back!
What makes the Nixon Surf Challenge so special that you have become an unconditional devotee?
It’s the opportunity to travel to unique places, often not really explored, with a good crew, enough supplies to work properly and most importantly a great atmosphere.
Do you sometimes shoot with analogue cameras?
Of course, I never go on a trip without my Lomo! I own several cameras: a Leica M6, a Fuji GW690 III (6*7format), a Mamya RB 6*7, a Linhoff, a Polaroid 600 SE, a Yashica T4, and so on… I enjoy shooting analogue even though I’d like to have more opportunities to do so. But the production restrictions make it hard to do so on all projects.
Had you ever tried Lomography cameras before shooting with the “LC-Wide”http://shop.lomography.com/lomo-lc-wide? How did that lomographic adventure go?
Yes, I owned a Supersampler and a Sprocket Rocket camera. I got them during a holiday in Portugal and I had a lot of fun with them. The pleasure is different, you go back to what photography used to be some fifteen years ago. You necessarily expect something different and there’s a real excitement when you go to get your prints from the lab!
Is there a photo in this series that represents the Nixon Surf Challenge best?
For the adventure and …
for the athmosphere!
If there was a perfect soundtrack for this photo series, what would it be?
« Love me two times » by the Doors
Any future projects you have lined up?
Chill out at home a little bit because the last few months have been intense and I haven’t had the chance to enjoy my family and my friends to the fullest… Prepare some exhibitions and future projects but I know I won’t get much rest. And you know what? So be it!
Thanks Bastien for the interview and the photos!