At the literal end of the road on the island of Tahiti, seventy kilometres from the capital Papeete, is the Polynesian village called Teahupoo.
And it’s here, where outrageous Pacific Ocean swells come out water thousands of feet deep to hit the famous reef of the same name, you’ll find the French-born photographer and surfer Ben Thouard.
If you surf, and if you live for making photos of a natural phenomenon, Teahupoo is very close to heaven. Ben, who is thirty-one years old and grew up on the mostly waveless Mediterranean, went to Tahiti on a magazine assignment and fell in love with the island on his first day there.
Shortly after, he moved to Tahiti, to Teahupoo, for good.
“I felt something unique when I first came here and I could never leave,” he says. “Tahiti is a place like no other. The mix of a welcoming people with a strong culture, pure nature, raw energy, heavy waves and beautiful tropical light makes it a paradise for every surfer, traveller and, of course, photographer.”
Living on an island far removed from Europe, North America or Australia does have its challenges. And, Ben, whose home squats amid the volcanoes that stomp almost onto the beach, admits life isn’t cheap and sometimes the isolation can be tough.
“I live on the wild side of the island,” he says. But, still, “I prefer it out here. It’s connected to nature. There is only the mountain, the ocean and us.”
Ben’s photos blend the technically brilliant, he learned his craft at the Paris Photography School after all, with the mouth-wateringly sublime.
“I’m always amazed by the waves and those incomparable moments I find in the ocean,” says Ben. “So I try to capture this amazing feeling on a photograph and show it to people. Photography is a way to transmit these unique feelings.”
Ben says he is driven by “discovering new techniques, new vision, new angles all the time. I love the diversity of possibilities.” He says he wants to surprise art lovers with his thoughtful approach to a subject rarely out of the spotlight.
“I want my photos to express something,” says Ben. “If people feel the same excitement that I felt when I took the photo, I think it’s a great photo.”
More than anything, he says, “I want my photos to amaze you.”
by Derek Rielly