By Mat Fouliard
Mat Fouliard lives an idyllic life with his girlfriend Amandina on the Pacific island of Tahiti. Yet scoring amazing sessions, as hard as it is to believe, isn’t as easy as you’d think. Even in this tropical paradise, paddlers are at the mercy of conditions and Mother Nature. This means that when the pieces all finally come together you have to be ready to go.
As soon as I hear birds announce dawn I jump out of bed, prepare my equipment then pray that the ocean and weather are delivering the goods. Truth is, nature follows its own rhythm. I can be as ready as I want, yet more often than not I’ll work for hours without getting my desired outcome.
Now it’s the beginning of south swell season here in Tahiti, so we are all expecting big waves – impatient and exited like children at Christmas!
Living in a tropical climate means living with Trade Winds. Sometimes the wind visits and stays for an entire two months, which makes surfing awesome conditions and photographing the evidence tricky. This year for example, I happened to receive all of my RRD 2015 equipment in the middle of the rainy season. I had to keep an eye out for windows of opportunity to capture a good shot and be ready to go at the drop of a hat.
A few weeks ago we woke up before dawn to go to the peninsula to catch the first big swell of the season. The forecast was calling light wind and waves about two metres with an 18-second period. We wanted to score desperately so we were on it.
When I say we, I mean Amandina and I. She is my partner in life, creative co-director and photographer. We are a perfect team when it comes to creativity, although we continually have to yell at each other to be heard over the sounds of the waves. It looks like we’re arguing, even though we’re not.
I do not consider myself a professional photographer, more of a composer. I am for sure passionate about the ocean, images and aesthetics. I like to think of the different elements that will compose my work. Tahiti’s gorgeous landscapes are just perfect for this. Any image you create activates dreams and inspires beauty. I can’t think of a better playground for us and our RRD toys!
So back to the story…
We woke before dawn, packed all our photo equipment carefully in a pelican case and a waterproof box, and put it on the pickup. We also hauled an 11ft pro model gun and the AirWave – we had a few ideas for funny pictures!
Finally, as we arrived, we could see the waves predicted weren’t there. The swell was mid-size and not so powerful – it was better for the AirWave. It was a very short session but intense, waiting for the sun to rise behind the mountains of Tahiti-Iti while the wind continued to pick up. In the end I had gorgeous waves and I tried a few turns I may not have done if I wasn’t under pressure. I guess this comes with the job: using adrenaline as an engine to create magic.
I also got Amandina to come with me tandem surfing on the 11ft. Our friend Charly in the boat snapped some pictures of us. They turned out OK – it’s not usual to tandem surf at the reef! We had a few big wipe outs but fortunately we are good swimmers and didn’t get beaten too bad. All in all it was a good session and I’m glad we were ready to go.
I use photographs as a vehicle to share the beauty of life and conditions we get in Tahiti. This vision fits my personality and allows me to fully live my passion. There is something for every paddler of all levels in Tahiti – you just have to be ready to go…