The project with not-for-profit On the Edge depicts human relationships to nature in the water.
On the Edge has partnered with celebrated film director and photographer Sébastien J. Zanella to spotlight the relationship between humans and nature in a new photography and two-part film series entitled Surf.
Filmed in the Galapagos Islands Surf is a film and photography series depicting human relationships to nature in the water. Zanella is probably best known for his distinctive short film work with athletes like Erik Koston, Dane Reynolds, John John Florence, Eric Ellington, Dylan Rieder and Alex Knost.
With the support of THEWAVES Agency Wavelength caught up with Sebastian to talk through the Surf project and where he is headed with his unique style of cinematography and storytelling.
WL: On the Edge’s mission is to reconnect people – Gen Z in particular – with nature. How did you go about that challenge?
Sebastian: Everything came about very naturally. I have been photographing the top surfers in the world for the past 25 years as they have pursued their talents and discovered themselves. Photographing surfers started as a way to experiment with human freedom and nature outside of corporate society, but this started to feel meaningless to me. When you get to a certain age, doing things for the beauty of it or to impress others seems immature and I wanted to find a more important reason to travel and take photos. Naturally, I began to focus on working with people who share my outlook, and those who value nature became my focus. If there is anything true in this world, it’s nature. So when On The Edge approached me about this project, it was such a natural fit.
How did you discover Pacha Light and Coral?
I met Pacha on a campaign for a surf brand. The surf industry is full of people who care about appearances rather than human connection or nature. Pacha and I immediately connected on a spiritual level. We share similar values about friendship and nature and Pacha then introduced me to her friend Coral.
What did you learn from them during the process?
I learnt so much from the process. I am 42 years old and Pacha and Coral are only 20. I spent my life unaware and following the path society told me to. The girls are so smart; I wish I’d had the same care and understanding of the world when I was younger. They embrace the world with so much positive energy. They understand the severity of the situation we are facing across the world and strive to make a change. I tend to be saddened by the state of the planet, but I have adopted a more positive outlook from them. Now I try to see any evolution as a source of joy, even the smallest changes.
What did you learn yourself throughout the making of Surf?
I learnt that what truly matters is not what we have created as humans but what exists already in nature. The power of the ocean waves is imprinted in my mind and inspires me to appreciate the ocean. It makes me want to surf every day.
What was the highlight of the experience?
Being in the water with such amazing animals. The sea lions especially were always so inquisitive while we were shooting. They are such playful and curious animals. It really made me question my human condition. Being in their environment I was aware of how inferior we are as humans and it made me appreciate their intelligence and agility.
Anything else you’d like to share, highlight or tell our readers about, please fire away.
I hope that everyone can find meaning in what they do. Don’t just travel the world for fun. Try to meet and respect every community and care for the nature you are lucky enough to experience. Find a reason for your passion, cultivate yourself and be the one that others will want to learn from.