Tomas Grootveld - WK artist edition
"I was born and raised in the Netherlands. A wealthy country money-wise, but poor in wild landscapes. My father inspired me to travel the world and so I did. My interest in raw nature became unstoppable after a trip to Spitsbergen in 2015. Stepping out of my comfort zone into a world where a nightly polar bear watch was daily routine. I have never felt more alive.
My interest for photography grew simultaneously with my need to explore. I wanted to document the things I saw, to inspire others. A way to create awareness for the beauty and vulnerability of our planet, so we all do our best to protect her. I am proud of where I am today and ready to share more of what the future has in store for me.
The past couple of years, my love for the Dutch coastline has grown. The island of Vlieland has become my happy place and I am grateful to call it my home nowadays. The North Sea, the beach and the dunes are my playground."
Tomas, we are very happy about the inspiring coop with you, it was such a pleasure to develop this shirt together with you, now the product is in front of us and we are stoked.Thank you for having time for a few questions!
To get started, how did you get into surfing, and how did you get into photography? I bought my first surfboard and wetsuit at 17 years old. I saw videos on the internet and just wanted to experience what i saw. I struggled for a long time with my pop-up since I had no teacher, but the feeling of being in the ocean and getting pushed along by its energy was addictive. I'm 15 years older now and still as happy as a kid to be in the water.
My father gave me a Canon DSLR camera when I was about 16, so around the same time I started surfing I guess. I used it for random stuff. Taking photos of my surroundings. Just something to play around with. But I liked it, this way of freezing moments. By that time, Instagram was non existent, so I didn't know how to share my photos with others.
And how did you decide to combine the two? I think Instagram opened some doors for me. I saw beautfiul photos taken from the water and I wanted to do that too. So about 2 or 3 years ago I bought my first waterhousing and started shooting from the water. I love the angle of being just above the surface. I look to shoot surfers, but I also love to just capture waves and other ocean shapes. The dance of light and water can be truly magical, especially around the first- and the last hour of the day.
In our eyes, the special thing about your pictures is that you preserve the magic of the moments. Sometimes we get goose bumps because your photos touch us so much, and we can feel the wave and smell the salty air. How do you manage to capture the moments like that? I think it takes a lot of time spent in the ocean. When I shoot, I shoot a lot of photos. And almost every session, I end up with some photos I like. Like I said, I love to shoot at dawn and dusk because the light usually brings something extra. Then I also check the forecast before I decide to shoot. Then I know a bit what to expect and what I am aiming for. When the forecast says big waves and offshore winds I look for the side angle of breaking waves. When there are no waves and there is no wind, I look for details on the water surface or for colors that might appear in the water or the sky.
Can you still remember the moment when you shot the motif of "The Peak"? Would you like to tell us something about it? It was a special day here on the island of Vlieland, where I'm currently living. I've been coming here for 10 years now and I've seen how good the waves can be here. On that day in July, we had already surfed two times. Timing is pretty critical here, since the waves are best around low tide. Me and some friends decided to squeeze out another session around sunset when the tide would be a bit lower again. Since I already had my share of surfing that day, it was an easy decision to pick up the camera on that session. The sky looked promising too, with some clouds, but not too many. When we got to the spot, we looked for the right peak. The Once out in the water, the elements started to align. The sky took on a huge array of colors. The wind was abcent and the waves started coming through at decent size. I shot photos with a huge smile on my face until my memorycard was full. A day to remember.
Where do you get your inspiration, what inspires you?Mainly nature. I look at other photographers too of course, like Chris Burkard or Hallvard Kolltveit. Cold water inspires me the most. I like raw and moody more than I like palmtrees and barrels.
What kind of equipment do you prefer to use, what cameras and boards should not be missing when you set out for the sea? At the moment I mainly surf a board that I shaped myself. It's a 7''2 with a pintail and a wide nose. Perfect for this island if you ask me. I'm really into mid length boards lately, but I also love to ride a fish or a longboard. For shooting photo and film I use a Sony A7III and mainly with a 50mm 1.8 lens. The cheap one that is. Its amazing! I like the details it gives me. I dont like wideangle lenses so much at this point. I have been using it with a Seafrogs waterhousing, because its a little less pricy than other waterhousing but it also has its downsides. I'm planning on getting an Aquatech waterhousing soon, but it's gonna require some extra money saving:)
Surfing seems to be changing as a sport, more and more people are coming to the spots, it's getting more crowded in the water. How do you perceive this change? I see this change pretty much everywhere I go. I think it is inevitable. But it also one more reason to explore more. I am lucky here on Vlieland. There are not a lot of surfers out here. The mainland of the Netherlands has become a zoo. So crowded! I think the Netherlands is a bit full in general. But also spots in Portugal are getting out of control. That's why I like my cold water surf, it scares off some of the crowds.
You spend the summer on Vlieland, a beautiful small island in the Netherlands, what do you like most about it? And is there anything you miss? It really is a gem! The island has one village and a long coastline with empty beaches. There are jetties here that keep the sand in place and they can create good waves too! I love that emptyness that you can find here. Islands bring a special vibe and this island is no exception. Come and see for yourself (not all at the same time please;) I don't really miss anything here, maybe some friends and family every now and then.
And what do you miss most when you are not on the island?The sea. I've been fortunate enough to see a lot of the world. But even when I was in Hawaii, I was thinking of Vlieland and the North Sea sometimes.
You have travelled a lot and surfed a lot of waves, what makes the North Sea unique for you? It feels like the sea where I belong. I know the waves. The color of the water. The smells. It's where I feel at home. It's where I play and find my happiness.
Are there any favourite spots you would like to tell us about? We have two really good spots on this island which work best in different conditions. Drop by at Surfana surfschool and I'll tell you about it:) Besides this island, I've had some super nice surf in northern Ecuador. No cold water there, but a long left hand point break nonetheless.
Because we think that music always goes with pictures: When people look at your pictures, which song should they listen to? Good question. I have a lot of music styles I listen to. Lets just go for ''Daniel Norgren - The Flow'' for now. This song always takes me places.
And one last question: When there are good waves: Surfing or photography? Really depends on my mood. I think if I'm really eager after a long period of flatness I have to choose surfing for sure. But when I've had my share, I would rather pick up the camera.
Thanks for the interview, Tomas!
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