Photographer Bastien Bonnarme trained in the wild surf of Southwest France
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 31 July, 2016 - What much of the world doesn’t realise is that the surf is heavy in Southwest France. All that North Atlantic winter swell energy is channelled through the Bay of Biscay to become not only the famed sand slabs along Hossegor but to also become the liquid mountains of Belharra. The upper echelons of French surfing are well-trained for intense waves around the world. Bastien Bonnarme took his heavy water skills honed in the Southwest of France and used them in Hawaii to cut his teeth in surf photography.
Day 3 Billabong Adventure © Bastien Bonnarme
Born and raised on the Atlantic Coast of Southwest France, Bastien Bonnarme has been drawn to the Ocean from an early age. An enthusiastic surfer, lifeguard and bodysurfer, Bastien was enrolled in a science program at school when his father inspired him to discover his passion for photography that should change the course of his life. Numerous journeys and many hours behind the camera lens and in the studio have lead Bastien to where he is today: A professional surf photographer.
Kai Lenny © Bastien Bonnarme
How did surf photography start for you?
I have been passionate about photography since I was 17 years old. At the end of university. I spent three months in Hawaii and began shooting there. One of my first watershots, was a Jamie O’Brien bomb during the Backdoor Shootout. It was big!
Tell us something most people don’t know about surf photography
It takes years and years to be a surf photographer. You need commitment, passion and faith about what you’re doing. Also you must realise that you will never be rich!
Hip Wiggler © Bastien Bonnarme
Share with us your heaviest experience in the surf or while travelling.
My scariest experience wasn’t in the water - even though I’ve had frights at Jaws, Mavericks, Mullaghmore, an outer reef in Morocco, various slabs around the world and even some shark encounters. It was in a plane when I got back from The States the day of the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013. After three hours flying, a woman who was seated one row behind me stood up and started screaming “Allah Akbar!” During the next 2-to-3 seconds I thought I was dead in a suicide bombing attack. I jumped from my seat, terrified, and grabbed her to try to punch her, but she stopped screaming. Then she began again. I understood quickly that she had some kind of mental trouble. I tried to control her and spoke to her friend. It turned out the girls had taken drugs and they were high and out of it. She finished the flight cuffed at the hands and feet at the end of the row nodding out after an injection of tranquilizers. The police were waiting for her in Paris.
Afrique © Bastien Bonnarme
Name one photographic image you saw that changed the way you approach photography.
For watershots it would have to be the Scott Aichner angles at Pipe.
What has been your proudest moment as a photographer?
Surfing Magazine cover with Kai Lenny
Find more of Bastien's work through his Social Media channels