When the ocean inspires you

Being in the water is something that is so important to me. Spending my childhood in Port Elgin, I would spend every minute in the lake pretending to be a dolphin or a mermaid. I would force (and still kind of) everyone to come swim with me for hours, or until that person got tired.

A couple of years ago when I started surfing for the first time, I discovered a second passion next to photography. I still remember crying in the water after I caught my first wave and was like '' How did I not try this before?!''. It was like all of a sudden I found something as strong as my passion for photography and that clearly meant something.

From there, I got introduced to river surfing back home and started photographing the local community who inspired me to keep pushing my passions together. But there was one thing I was missing: A WATERHOUSING!

Luckily, a photographer friend of mine sold his used and even tho it wasn't the same model for my camera, a bit of tweaking here and there and BOOM, I can now become a fish with a camera!

However being from the city and far from the ocean, it's a constant challenge to push myself towards surf photography. I try to book trips here and there whenever I can to shoot, and have tried to photograph in the river but...  Let me tell you this: It is NOT easy!

I got lucky, and left for Nicaragua for two weeks in high hopes to improve my surf photography and get used to the waves, current and such. It was one of the best improvements in my life, because I got to really push myself. Usually I leave for a week, but this time I was there for fourteen days, that meant double the practice of what I am normally used to.

Of course, I started off in Beginners bay. Bobbing in the water, feeling the salt water on my skin and realizing how much I missed being in the ocean. I had fun photographing this 52 year old standup paddle boarder who had more style then I ever will. I focused on the colors of golden hour, and got used to getting smashed occasionally from that odd wave or two.

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But now I was ready to kick it up a notch.

As the first week was in full swing, a friend of mine came down to hang out with us. Marie-Soleil is a surf instructor and usually spends her winters in Nicaragua teaching surfing. She was eager to go surf at Popoyo break, and I was ready to get out of my comfort zone and push myself towards a bigger wave.

We went together and she coached me through, telling me where to swim out, and where to focus. I swear I was terrified hahaha, but excited too. The wave didn't look that big from shore but you know how the saying goes: It's always bigger than it looks.

I swam out, and watched surfers ride their waves. I practiced getting the right shots, but didn't expect too much. I wanted to get used to the new spot, and I was happy to just be in the water. The swell was a bit slow and had lots of smaller waves but every now and then a massive set would come and I would pee a little. (oops.)

Then all of a sudden a huge set came in again and totally smashed me. Being high tide, I was lucky to have not touched the reef thank god, but got swirled pretty heavily. One wave after another it was a challenge to try to get that extra breath of air to help me get through.

I scrambled back to shore exhausted but sooooooo stoked about accomplishing Popoyo. I sat in the sand catching my breath, as my friends patted my back and congratulated me. A huge goal of mine was crushed, and I know I need to get my body back in shape if I want to experience more waves like this. Walking back from the beach all my mind could think about was: I want go again, and I want to push myself more.

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A few days later we got the opportunity to take a boat out to two surf breaks: Playground and Lances left. Now.. Playground is something. I would say it was a bit bigger than Popoyo and more remote. This time, I kept my distance from the actual break watching from afar. When I started feeling comfortable, I got closer and closer until I got smashed again.

That one hurt, and slowly backed up again taking my time to just feel the water. The sets were uneven and hard to read. It was still a pretty unreal experience and even tho I didn't really get any decent shots, I was stoked to have at least been there, in the water challenging myself.

I was exhausted and when we got to Lances left which was a bit friendlier, I was too exhausted to even swim. Swam out, realized my body was too tired to even push myself through a wave that it would of been stupid for me to stay. One wave could just take me away and I didn't have the strength to power through. So I took a quick snap of a girl, with the big cliff behind and swam back to the boat.

We got back to our rooms that day and everyone just passed out. My muscles were aching, but in a good way. However my mind was on fire and all I could think about was when can I go again?!

But then the ocean became flat, and the last remaining days were spent wandering in the local communities and then ending it with Coco and Marc in the water with their SUP's.

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Now that I am back home, I can't stop thinking about my next surfing adventure. I have been working out at the local pool, practicing my breathing and working my muscles to become stronger and better. It's a process, and if this is something I want to keep doing, and to keep improving on, I need my body to be at it's top.

The biggest rewards in life are found outside of your comfort zone. Live with it. Fear and risk are prerequisites if you want to enjoy a life of success and adventure.
— Jack Canfield

We only have one life, and we never fully live it if we don't push ourselves out of our comfort zone. It's thrilling but also it's very rewarding as it helps you grow as a person.

Alex,