Featured Surf Photographer: Jefferson Ganuelas
It’s a bright day in La Union and the swell has begun to drop. While most of the lineup regulars have decided to skip the morning session, Jefferson Ganuelas waxes his log with a wide grin on his face. “These small days are perfect for me,” he says as a waist high set rolls in, glassy and peeling.
Jeff’s surfing is fun to watch. The San Fernando local mixes traditional logging with some radical floaters and stylish drop-knee turns. When he’s not giving Alex Knost a run for his money in the lineup, Jeff is busy making tailored surf shorts for his brand, Promdisea. He can also be found behind the lens of his camera, patiently calibrating the perfect surf shot.
We caught up with this cool surf cat and got inspired by his laidback approach in the water and in life.
Hi, Jeff! How did you get into photography?
I’ve always been fascinated with photos. My grandfather was a photographer and he influenced me a lot. We had our own darkroom in our house. While other kids had different kinds of toys, I played with film cameras and SLRs. I was born and raised in La Union, where the sea is our playground, so I was naturally able to combine my passion for photography with my passion for surfing and the ocean.
Wow, that’s amazing! What do you love best about it? What inspires your art?
I love being able to capture the beauty of surfing through photography. I feel the same level of stoke whether I am surfing or taking photos. When I take photos of my friends, it feels the same as enjoying the waves because I can also feel their happiness when they get good rides. I feel happy when I get to do things I truly love like surfing and shooting. People who appreciate my art are my inspiration. I meet a lot of good individuals and surfers because of this art form.
What’s your most memorable moment when shooting?
Every time I go out shooting, it feels like the most memorable moment. Every shoot is special. You have to treat it that way. You have to enjoy it. Only then will you be able to capture beautiful and special moments.
I’ve worked with some of the best local surfers and longboarders from here and abroad, and I always feel the same happiness and stoke after I shoot them. I feel even happier when they appreciate what I do. I love seeing the big smile on their faces when they see their photos.
What are your favorite conditions to shoot in?
La Union, which faces the West Philippine Sea, offers some really magical, golden moments. I like shooting early in the morning, when the sun is rising. I also like capturing the last light of the day. When it’s glassy and peeling 2 to 3 feet waves and everyone is out with their longboards, coupled with a killer sunset-- it’s just the best conditions for shooting surf. The location adds drama and life to the photos.
While everyone else is into action shots, I prefer capturing the beauty of surfing and all the good things that it brings to us. Happy lineup shots, long rides, and big smiles. These are the elements I consider whenever I go out to shoot.
Where is your favorite place to shoot and why?
Of course, here in La Union, especially at Jesus Point or Carrille. The place is just surreal. Shy at times, but when the mood is there, expect to capture beautiful moments. Killer sunset plus peeler killer conditions-- perfect!
Lastly, do you have any tips for aspiring photographers?
Love your art, love nature, and love surfing. Without love, nothing special will happen to you. Go beyond the norms. Find the style that fits you. Shoot whenever you can and just keep shooting! Learn how to be patient, and most specially, always be humble. Learn to appreciate other photographers. After all, we share the same passion-- shooting.
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The glassy conditions continue at the Point and Jeff gets up on a good one. He cross-steps to the nose, leans back and stays in perfect trim as a critical section approaches. He cross-steps back to the tail in one fluid motion for a perfectly timed cutback. At the end of his ride, Jeff is smiling from ear to ear. He paddles back to the lineup and does it all over again.
Photos by Jefferson Ganuelas (@msandsw on IG)
Words by Camille Pilar (@camillepilar on IG)