Aired on 2021, Mar 24th  in Podcast / Surf photography

Interview with Maria Fernanda Bastidas

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Welcome to the 23rd episode of the second series of our podcast.

Before starting today I would like to thank you the thousands of you that are following us every week.

We have now prepared the episodes of the third series and we can say that is going to be an amazing one!

Today with us, from Puerto Escondido, Mexico the very talented surf-photographer Maria Fernanda Bastidas.

We spoke with her about surf, surf photography , her equipment and much more!

You can find the interview in all major podcast platforms (Spotify, ITunes, YouTube, …) or read the transcribed version here below (please forgive us of spelling mistakes)


TTOS: Aloha Fernanda, welcome to the show! Where are you today?

Thank you so much for the invitation I am in Puerto Escondido in Mexico.

TTOS: How is going over there in this time of coronavirus? People can go to surf?

At the beginning (this interview has been recorded in August/September 2020), the beach was closed, but then, they put a schedule, we could go surf and swimming mostly or just doing a workout, being active at the beach from six in the morning to nine.

Then, they opened the time till two in the afternoon and right now they are allowing people at the beach. As long as people are active, they're running, walking, surfing, swimming, kayaking, whatever it is for the wellness of the people,

TTOS:  It is good to hear that, gradually things are opening up, let's hope for the best.

Today we're not going to talk about coronavirus, we're going to talk about surf photography, surf and your career, of course. First question I have for you is in your opinion, what is the most important thing in surfing?


you have to be doing it all the time, if you stopped surfing for some years, or if  still you haven't been in the ocean for years, you kinda lose that part.

For me, the best thing in surfing is being constant and doing every day and practice everyday.

TTOS:  If I have to ask you the same question on surf photography, what would you answer?

I would answer the same, you can be prepared by doing it constantly…

You have to be able to swimming because, as much you can train outside of the water, it's not the same as being in the ocean, swimming, practicing what you usually do.

TTOS:  Do you remember your first surfboard or the first time you started to surf?

Yes, I was 18 years old, I did not grow up in the ocean, so for me it was a little bit older and I took a surf lesson when I was 18 at a beach down here in Mexico City, but I didn't start it, practicing it more until I was like 24 when I would spend more time in California.

TTOS: How important is them the fact that you surf with surf photography, it's relevant for you or you think they are two completely different subjects?

Well, for me, I think it's way better to be good at swimming, but I think it is important to have the knowledge of the sport and how it works, because to be a good photographer, you have to understand how surfing is done, how it works, the waves , the surfer, how they move, the speed they have the tricks that they do.

I think it's very important to have that notion or at least know how to surf, but it's not as crucial to be very good in surfing to be a good photographer.

TTOS:  Definitely, actually, I totally agree with you……How did you start surf photography? What was the transition that made you be a surf photographer or interest in photography?

I grew up as a swimmer, I was since I was seven years old, like high-performance swimmer. For me, the water was always a part of my life and I was so used to it and I was a strong swimmer forever.

Then when I graduated from college, I went to Hawaii to volunteer at an organization and I met a surf photographer, his name is Peter Sterling and he wanted to pass on what he knew to someone else..

I was there. I was the one that, well, I asked him, I would love to learn from you…..He said, yes, if you are serious about this, then you will have to come back in the winter and that's what I did.

He helped me a lot to learn about currents, winds, channels, how the surfer works and where to position yourself as a surf photographer….. that's how everything started.

TTOS: it's like kind of legacy, he gave it to you and for you to transmit to others one day, I think it's an amazing story. A part of him, who are your references in surf photography?

Well, I admire a lot of photographers all around the world, of course there are the most famous ones, in Hawaii, Zak Noyle even though I don't do his style of surf photography, but it's very well known.

And then there's other surf photographers that I admire a lot and, most of them, are actually from Australia. I think the Australian ones are probably one of the craziest ones,  they've been in the biggest wave. I love there's another Portuguese surf photographer that usually shoots in Indonesia, his name is  Diego Dore, he is amazing…. when he's shooting, he loses himself in the waves and he gets in the craziest position.

Those are the photographers that I admire because they challenge me to get better at shooting in more risky situations, but at the same time, being very careful and prepared,

TTOS:  Let's talk about these risky situation, how do you deal with the adrenaline of taking a picture and you are taking amazing picture and fear?

Well I consider fear is always good. Panic is what is dangerous…

When you have panic, then you're in trouble, it's dangerous, but fear always makes you question things and put things into perspective and be careful about it. It's just a matter of controlling it and overcoming it, but in a safe way. So I think the more prepared you are, it  gives you more peace once you're in the water and allows you to be calm and manage your fear in a healthy way.

TTOS:  Definitely be calm in the water, it's a good suggestion, no matter if you surf or your swim, be calm is definitely very important. We talked about your portfolio and you have amazing shots is there one that would you choose as the one that would represent your work?

I feel like I have a couple, it depends for what it is, but, of course, I have like my selection of favorite photos and there's one that has a great meaning to me, it's like very close to me and it is a shot, I got three years ago here in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, in my country.

It's probably the day that I saw the biggest wave here, in addition to that, the surfer in the photo is a Mexican surfer, probably one of the best and most recognized surfer in Mexico, that died just a couple months after this photo, so the meaning of that photo for me is just so big.

Like all of it, how it all represents and I think that is one of my favorites too.

TTOS:  Definitely very, very meaningful. If you had to say the best moment of your career, which one would it be so far?

That's an interesting one. I think there are moments that are like big stepping stones, like, you know, having a cover on a magazine when you start your dream…

For me, being published in Surfer magazine, was a good moment and, as well, when I got nominated for the Big Wave Awards… those are stepping stones…..

If I have to select one, the most meaningful, has been being recognized by other surf photographers and get on the spotlight of some of them because of my achievements.

For instance, when I swam here in Port Canoe, when it was the biggest wave ever,  I got good shots and a lot of surf photographers and even surfers, texted me to congratulate me and recognize my work.

I think probably, that was one of my most proud moments.

Courtesy of The Boda Surf Caravan

TTOS: Very interesting, I agree with you when your colleagues are appreciating you, there is like no greater satisfaction, right? Because those are the same people that know what is the risk, what are the conditions on which you're taking a photo, some picture and definitely, if they respect your work, it means a lot…..

Tell me about your equipment. What is your favorite lens to use and what is your camera?

I use my favorite camera is a Nikon 800, I have the 24 to 85 millimeters, which is very versatile, but then my favorite photos, I've have gotten them with my 70 to 200 in the water, the problem is very heavy and big…'s a little harder than with it, but I've got my favorite photos with that one.

My water housing it's SPL water housing, and I use my favorite fins are Churchill Mack 2

I also have another setup for video, which I'm starting slowly to get more into, I still love photo more than anything, but I have my Sony alpha 6,500 with Liquid Ice water housing and that's the one that I use when I shoot video.

TTOS: Tell me about your future plans. What's next?

It's very hard right now with the whole covid, all the plans that we had for this year, they all got canceled, I guess, or shifted or changed.

It's difficult to know what's going to happen next year, but I do have in mind, I don't know if it's going to be possible, this project with another amazing surf photographer from Australia, we both are women. And we were thinking about maybe traveling on the West coast of Australia and documenting what would we do and what it takes to be shooting big waves as a woman. 

We have that plan, we want it to happen maybe between March, April but we're of course waiting to see what, what is going to happen, you know, with the world and everything…..

I would like to come back to Tahiti, I wanted to do that this year, but at first it didn't happen, I haven't gone Chile yet and hopefully it will happen next year.

TTOS:  Amazing!  A lot of projects  going on…..

We're going to finish our interview with a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes up to your mind….The best surfboard that you have ridden….

 A fun board

TTOS: personal question, your favorite song.

A latin one, which is a lots in one “Haitian remix”.

TTOS:  Your favorite photo, but not yours.

A body boarder in pipeline last winter, and it's the biggest wave at Pipeline that I've ever seen. I think that they captured it in the exact moment and it's just insane, It looks like it's Photoshop, but I know it's true because a lot of photographers showed it and it looked like that.

TTOS:  Your favorite surf spot,

PikaCela  it's very challenging, very hard to surf, I think that's what makes it so exiting

TTOS: Your favorite surfer…

Mason Ho

TTOS: the last question is a little bit unusual as nothing to do with surf or surf photography, but we ask everybody on the show, we want to know, your best relationship advice.

I think honesty and respect and I think it works for everything, you know, like friendship love family, any, any kind of relationship

Recorded in September 2020

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