Where you been hiding BH? We don't really care, just glad to have you back.
Uniting travel, nature and surf, Ryan Osman Photography captures all the elements of alluring and captivating images. From a childhood passion to a creative outlet, Seafox caught up with Ryan to discover more about surfing Canada's Great Lakes and finding swell in the most unexpected places.
Edge of the Map is a Graphic Design and Photography site run by Matt. Based in Newquay, Matt's work is dramatic and dynamic with a striking balance of scale and the raw elements of the Cornish landscape. His writing style is as unique as his work, with narrative captions that combine just the right amount of humour to not be pretentious, but enough of a story to keep you engaged. Unable to resist hearing more, Seafox caught up with Edge of the Map UK to find out what fuels Matt's passion for visual arts, his cliffside adventures and the inspiration for his ever imaginative writing style.
How long have you been interested in photography?
Probably about 4/5 years. I’m only going to count from where I got my first decent camera, everything before that was practice. I started with a crappy little fuji bridge before playing with GoPros and then moving on to a Sony A380, which was awesome because it was cheap and I was working minimum wage jobs. The first decent photo I took was of my foot while surfing, which coincidentally was also the first time I had ever considered my foot to be worthy of note, sadly the foot modelling career didn’t take off, but I really liked the photo and went on from there.
And when did you start taking “amazing photos in bluntly stupid conditions to satisfy [your] dangerous obsession to find a sense of adventure”?
Well that’s mostly fancy pants sales talk. I’m not comfortable describing myself as taking amazing photos because I genuinely think the more I’m complimented the more likely I am to get lazy and sell out, especially if I’m talking about myself. Stupid conditions were probably the first time I slid down a cliff on my ass. I don’t think my lower back has been the same since, but I bought myself a pair of Doc Martens a couple of years ago and I haven’t slid down since. The dangerous obsession with finding a sense of adventure is a side effect of being unable to leave Cornwall (I fear the England, not the UK, not the world, but England, they’ll steal the pasties or some other stereotype if I turn my back for too long) but not being able to sit down for more than 5 minutes without wanting to see something and getting bored.
How much of an influence does the ocean/environment have on your creativity?
A lot, if I’m excited about the environment I think the pictures genuinely capture some of that energy, be it happy energy or sad energy, part of that emerges from the photo and if the environment is awesome, that’s like fuel for my personal fire. I also strongly believe in a risk = reward kind of thing, which explains the frequent trips down cliffs and preferring to only take photos while baiting the nearest apex predator.
Does it have an effect on your graphic design work too?
To an extent, my personal work is very much a detox for the energy I build up by either not being able to take photos or having just taken a load of photos. Then again, occasionally I just do it to just chill out, then I find out it’s 1AM and I need all the beauty sleep I can get. If you want complete honesty, if I’m drained I find it very hard to design or take photos, occasionally I need a creative boost.
Your Instagram is filled with captions about the stories behind the images, but what is your favourite story and the image that accompanies it?
Oh jeez, um, at the moment, probably the one about Giant Cornish Woodlice, I legitimately went well off the deep end with that caption, honestly though, not the biggest fan of that photo, favourite photo is probably LIMITED, BRAVE or TORN, they’re all dramatic and kind of very raw, they’re straight from the heart.
Where is your favourite place to capture images? Why?
That’s an even harder question! I recently fell back in love with taking photos of the beaches at Newquay, but I spend a lot of time at Bodmin Moor too, the Lizard and all that down there are pretty high on my list of places to basically spend all my time at. As for why, I generally look for something that’s clearly had interaction with people but is very unpeopled, so if someone does appear in the photo, you get an idea of scale.
If you could describe your work in 3 words, what would they be?
“Stop and think”, “Breath and focus” but I guess they’re more about how I shoot, I guess “minimal people landscape” might be how I would like to some it all up. 3 words is hard! If you want me to be my normal self-deprecating self, I would describe it as “barely any good” but I don’t know, “trying my best” probably sounds better than that.
And finally, what does the sea mean to you personally?
To me, the sea is change, it’s constant and unyielding, it’s barely there because it’s always there. It’s the great equaliser and it plays such an intrinsic part in my life that it’s probably always going to be a focus for me. Also it’s a great source of puns, you’ll sea what I’m doing here hopefully.
Photographer Andy Palfreeman came to Seafox's attention via Instagram. Still fresh at the beginning of his surf photography adventure, Andy's photos bring a sense of fun and playfulness to the line ups he "bobs around". He's often found chatting in the carpark at Putsborough and is always keen to collaborate on new water based photo projects. We caught up with Andy to learn about the trials and tribulations of getting into surf photography.
How long have you been taking photos for?
I picked up a camera with more creative intentions about six years ago. My family bought me an Olympus E-PL2 and I was blown away by what you could do with a half decent camera. I very quickly became hooked on photography and trying to capture the mood and feeling of the places I was shooting. I had a couple of good friends to teach me and that really helped me a lot to develop an eye.
How did you get into surf photography? What drew you to it?
I've been wakeboarding for a while now and surfing about five or six years...so it was sort of inevitable given my verve for photography. Like a lot of people I'm drawn to the lifestyle, thus a lot of my weekends and travelling involves surfing. As I always take my camera gear with me it wasn't a big step to get a camera housing and start shooting in the water. To be honest, as a surfer the conditions can quickly get too big for me (I love nothing more than 3ft and clean). So when it gets to head or overhead high I love putting the swim fins on to try and shoot the guys and girls who can actually rip. It's still early days so I'm not too used to all the funny looks that I get in the line up ("What's that weirdo bobbing around with a bloodyy camera for...no pros here mate!"), but the vibe has always been really positive so far and I'm pretty happy with the direction I'm going.
"What's that weirdo bobbing around with a bloody camera for... no pros here mate!"
Where is your favourite place to shoot?
Haven't done that much to be honest, so fairly easy to answer. Putsborough is always great, I've spent loads of time in that area and love the vibe in the water (and always a good chat in the car park!).
What does the sea mean to you?
Without exception [we] all put an emphasise on having a laugh when we go get salty
It's just pure fun, whether I'm surfing or shooting. I'm lucky to have a wide circle of mates that surf and without exception they all put an emphasise on having a laugh when we go get salty. Even if it looks like horrible conditions and you score one crappy wave we're happy. We tend to laugh with each other a lot and if we manage to give a little "YEWWW" as someone snags a nice wave then we're stoked.
I met Nick in Sagres and he is, amongst many other things, a co-founder of CoWorkSurf. A Geography Teacher gone rogue, Nick moved to Portugal in “search of a lifestyle more connected to the ocean, to nature, to like-minded people”.
“I have always chosen a life I knew I needed,” he continues, “ Away from the cities of this world, the smoke, the rapid pace, the development, the noise of human progress. A step back, a slower flow, connection with the natural rhythms and now, ultimately, life more connected to surf.”
He’s warm, generous, kind and forever giving, and despite growing up in the Peak District National Park, approximately three hours in any direction to the nearest surf spot, he’s a better surfer than he’ll often admit. For this reason, and his cracking writing style, I invited Nick to share three of his favourite cold water spots. I wasn’t disappointed with Rastabake’s response.
I grew up in a place known more for sheep than surfers. Although far from the sea, growing up in the British countryside instilled a great respect and appreciation for the natural world. I’m forever indebted to my parents for that. Not to mention all the childhood hiking, camping, rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, skiing and snowboarding. It wasn't until my early 20s that I caught the surfing bug. Snowboarding still ruled my world but between numerous ski seasons and global adventures in search of snow, I managed to slowly practice and improve my surfing. Over a decade later I still consider myself a pretty mediocre surfer but here are my three favourite cold water locations which keep me stoked along the way.
Cayton Bay - Yorkshire
"Fuck me it's cold. Really fucking cold."
I used to surf here in a 3:2 no hood, boots or gloves. Mostly thanks to a lack of funds, complete unawareness of thicker neoprene suits and a dashing of Northern grit (aka stupidity). Later on I got wise to 4:3s and hooded Excel vests. The best swells come in winter so bring your thermos brimming with Tetley tea, you're gonna need it.
Have you ever seen the Yorkshire seaside? No? Well, I'll tell you summat fer nowt cock, the wa'er ain't that blue. The colour of the North Sea on the Yorkshire coast is caused mostly by the rapidly eroding glacial till deposits that comprise the youngest layers of the sedimentary stratigraphy lining the coast. That and a good deal of post precipitation farming effluent run-off water, oh and some industrial and commercial waste from The North's industrial cities thrown in for good measure. Yes, it's got a bit of a brown tint.
Brain freeze cold and muddy brown. Sound inviting? "Nah, den youth. Keep yer gob shut when tha's duckdiving." At least the locals are friendly enough.
There's a few peaks that work along beach but the real show occurs out at the rocky point on the north side of the bay. With the right swells it can produce a left hand wave with stand up barrels. The paddle to the point is long but get inside one of those grinding, gurgling, Yorkshire kegs and you'll quickly forget all the effort it took to get there.
The best swells come in winter so bring your thermos brimming with Tetley tea, you're gonna need it.
Fickle and not for the faint-hearted, you'll be lucky to score it at its best, unless you're a local watching it from your bedroom window with binoculars, but well worth it.
Mundaka, Basque Country, Spain
On my first visit to Mundaka I was way off the mark.
I arrived in late July with my friend Tom. After inspecting the harbour, in search of one of Europe's top ranking elite class lefts, we thought we'd got it wrong. Then, after asking a local when the wave would work the response came "In October." We knew we'd got it wrong. This kinda settled it for us and we opted for jumping like loons from the harbour wall with the other tourists for the afternoon. The next day we drove on.
There are a few theories about where Mundaka gets its name from. My favourite, highly plausible and one of the oldest (around 1000 years) is the Norse origin for the name. It is well documented that Vikings inhabited this area, now modern day Basque country. Based on the likely presence of a medieval Viking settlement in the area. In Danish, "mund" means "mouth", and "haka" means "promontory, cape". Mundaka lies precisely at the mouth of the estuary of the Oka river.
The Oka river flows from south to north into the Bay of Biscay. Here when solid swells roll in it can generate one of Europe's most highly prized cold water waves offering potential stand up barrels for days.
Forward in time to a most memorable surf with my late great friend Cam. This time on the road trip on our way home from the usual extended summer in and around Lagos and Sagres, Portugal.
In the chilly river mouth we watched him get "Totally slotted!" according to the commentary from the wonderfully cliché American logger, who was enigmatically whooping away. Strange that at that moment I had no idea this would be one of my few last surfs with Cameron. It wouldn't have changed anything, he still just surfed on that day like a champion, as always. I miss you little brother.
Aguçadoura, Douro, N. Portugal
Teaching Geography and being born in a country which is (was...) still part of the E.U. had some advantages, living and working in another one of those member states, to say the least.
30 mins east from the coast, the city of Braga provided affordable lodgings, numerous bakeries and was accessible via good transport links. My teaching job there served me well and allowed plenty of weekend warrior and evening solo missions to the beach.
Aguçadoura is a small sleepy fishing village at the end of the winding cobbled roads through arable farmed land. If you're lucky you'll bump into Luis in the car park and have impromptu intercontinental duo-lingual rap battles with him. I did! Respeito. Or maybe you'll see long-term globalist navigator, Bocha Javier, boss man at Aminon clothing company, imagined in Madrid made in Portugal.
If not you'll simply score empty, off-shore, A-Frame glass on the low tide. Sometimes there were half a dozen in the line up, sometimes...
"Oh nice one! Now everyone knows!" Honestly though I don't feel bad about blowing the whistle about this quiet little beach break. Why not? Well, because you'll probably never go there. The nearest international airport is in Oporto (1.5 hours away) the water is cold, it's quite a solitary break with few surrounding options, so if its not working you're driving at least half an hour to the next spot north or south, it's a bloody mission to find, it's probably not working when you get there, it works best in winter and that's when it rains too. But, please prove me wrong. Go check it out.
It's a bloody mission to find and it's probably not working when you get there.
Well that's three of my favourite cold water spots in Europe. I hope you get to visit them all at some point, they have certainly all been poignant waves in my surfing life. In the meantime stay salty, stay Seafox and stay stoked.
I met Kirsty Hill huddled in a warm hotel foyer in Newquay as we both watched a brutal mess of white water relentlessly batter Fistral Beach. There was no surfing that day, but there was a lot to learn and be inspired by. A landlocked surfer turned Cornish blogger, Kirsty followed her passion for waves and relocated from the Midlands to the South West, sharing her experiences on Kernow Surfgirl as she goes. Kirsty is quiet, humble and has no idea of her strength and bravery, but her dedication to her passions and her pursuit of waves is an inspiration for fledgling surfers everywhere. No matter the challenge, Kirsty remains permanently stoked about surfing and accepts the lessons it teaches set after set.
Inspired by her bravery and kindness, I caught up with Kirsty after our week with Surf Sistas, to share her journey and her joy and find out what keeps her getting back in the water time and time again.
How long have you been surfing for?
Five years. I had my first surf lesson in Cornwall seven years ago but didn't surf again after that until two years later.
I lived in the West Midlands at the time and thought geography was a real barrier, until a friend suggested we do a day trip to North Devon. I thought he was crazy driving all that way in a day to surf but we did it and it was awesome! That was like a lightbulb moment. From there we did day trips as often as we could and spent holidays in Devon and Cornwall.
Then two years ago I relocated to Cornwall so I've surfed a lot more since then.
What drew you to it?
I fell in love with the lifestyle before I even thought about getting on a surfboard! I loved the surf shops - the clothes, the smell of surfboard wax and musicians like Jack Johnson. I loved the simpler, laid back way of coastal living that goes hand in hand with surfing.
I'd always been fascinated by the sea but until that first surf lesson, I'd never even paddled or been swimming in the sea. It frightened me I guess but one summer I watched a group of surfers at Polzeath and was in awe of what they were doing. It looked so effortless, fluid and graceful and I wanted to try it.
That first surf lesson was only ever intended to tick something off my bucket list. I never imagined just how much of an impact it would have and how life changing it would become!
What have been your biggest hurdles when learning to surf?
The geography to begin with. Being landlocked is frustrating as you can't surf very often. The key to progression is to surf frequently, it can feel like taking one step forward and three backwards.
I also really struggled with my pop-up for three years. I kept going to my knees and had pretty much given up until this year when a coach showed me a method which really worked for me. I got back on a foamie and practised a lot on a longboard. I still feel that knee creep in at times but it's so much better than it was!
And your biggest triumphs?
There's a couple that spring to mind! Over the summer, I joined a surf club. The first time we paddled out back it was about shoulder high and I was on my longboard. I was scared of the board and those walls of whitewater! I had to turtle roll a lot and by the time I got out back I was knackered and shaking! But the coach from the club was really patient and said something quite profound when he realised how scared I was. He said "the wave of your life is on the other side of fear". He coaxed me onto a wave, gave the tail a little nudge as I paddled and I caught my first shoulder high wave. It felt incredible and I didn't come down for days afterwards!
To have the feeling of that wave encapsulated in a photo meant so much and restored a lot of faith in my surfing.
The second one happened a few weeks ago. Since the start of the year I'd set myself a goal of getting a picture of me surfing a decent sized wave. It was a dreamy day at Fistral - perfect conditions and blue, sunny skies. The line-up was unusually quiet and because I was on my longboard, I could get into the waves early. I picked off a left which is my backhand and more of a challenge for me but I caught it and shot down the open face. It was one of the bigger head high set waves. When I saw the photo afterwards, I couldn't believe it!
Let's talk about women and surfing, do you feel girls have a harder time getting into the sport?
I think there's a lot of misconceptions which prevent girls from getting into surfing which perhaps men don't think about.
I think women do have a harder time getting into it and it's a shame that those limiting self beliefs prevent them from doing so.
From my own experience, I've spoken to dozens of women who've told me why they could never try surfing for numerous reasons - "I'm not fit enough", "I'd look awful in a wetsuit", "There's no way I'd be able to stand up", "I'm not confident enough", "I've got no-one to try it with" etc. So yes, I think women do have a harder time getting into it and it's a shame that those limiting self beliefs prevent them from doing so. That's why women only clubs, events, holidays etc are such a good idea because in the right environment, those beliefs can be broken down in an instance.
Do you feel there is more awareness about getting girls in the water?
Definitely! It's been awesome to see so many female only surf clubs and surf events spring up this year in Cornwall alone - not just for existing surfers but for women who want to try surfing for the first time. Plus there's female only surf holidays and intensive courses run by organisations like Surf Sistas who've introduced some amazing new surf retreats this year. I've come across landlocked surfers groups and clubs too which facilitate regular trips to the coast.
I think social media is helping to spread the message too.
You relocated to Cornwall to pursue surfing - how did that come about?
We'd toyed with the idea for a while. I was on a work from home contract with my job so I could work from anywhere and my husband had had enough of long commutes and teaching. Then after a Cornwall holiday 2 years ago, we stopped on the way home and I burst into tears in the motorway services. It was a weird homesickness kind of feeling for a place I didn't want to leave.
When we got home, we talked again and decided to go for it. We put the house up for sale and it sold within a week which told us it was meant to be. My husband quit his job and 3 months later we were in Cornwall!
Any advice for someone considering doing the same?
Go for it! Otherwise you'll look back and wonder what could have been. But be prepared for a different way of living. Life's slower and more laid back and it doesn't suit everyone. It's not about big careers, status and earning lots of money down here but the rewards are the ocean on your doorstep, spectacular views and so much more to do.
If you're into surfing, being outdoors and living simply, you'll love it like I do!
What's your favourite beach to surf and why?
Polzeath. It's really mellow, great for longboarding and you can get some really long rides. But the beach I surf most at is Watergate Bay as it's near my home.
Mawgan Porth will always feel special too as it's the place where I first learnt to surf.
How can we follow your adventures?
Review: The Accord
A Truly Icelandic Surf Film
Cold water surfers sit on the edge of the global surf scene, far removed from the glamour of tropical waters and palm-tree fringed sunsets. Icelandic surfers are possibly the furthest removed of all, yet their biggest problem is their relationship with the notorious North Wind.
The Accord is a film about surfers in the most hallowed of conditions when the wind plays fair... and what they get up to when it doesn't.
An Epic Adventure on the Land
Farming and Surfing- who knew?
This inspiring project from Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way need support. Find out what you can do, and why you should, here.
Surfers Against Sewage have launched their latest Plastic Free Coastline campaign: the revolutionist inspired ‘Wasteland’, putting plastic pollution on the map.
A Nordic surf classic gets the big screen treatment in London at The Adventure Travel Film Show.