Five years ago, in our 246th print edition, we ran a photographic showcase featuring some of Marcus Paladino’s excellent imagery.
Even then, it was a highly accomplished collection of work, chronicling half a decade in his adopted home of Vancouver Island. In the years since, however, Marcus has continued to shoot non-stop, delivering a high-quality stream of images that’ve lit up the online space and graced the pages of numerous global publications.
While his immediate surroundings remain a hardy perennial in his work, his approach has spanned a wide variety of photographic genres, from grand landscape shots reminiscent of old masters, through cutting edge surf action to artfully abstract portrayals of ocean and light.
Recently, he decided to pull some of his personal highlights together into a new coffee table photo book, entitled ‘Cold Comfort’, (which you can pre-order now), so we seized the opportunity to fire a few questions across the pond.
WL: Can you tell me about the new book? What’s in it, and what inspired you to make it?
MP: It’s ironically called ‘Cold Comfort’ and it’s focused on my surf photography from the west coast of Canada. It’s a good mix of high-performance action, abstract waves, epic landscape, meaningful portraits and some unpublished work that I’m excited to share with everyone. I’m coming up on a decade of living, surfing and shooting in Tofino and I always thought that would be a significant amount of time to put together my greatest hits album. Also, the book releases on the same date when I first moved here (end of May).
WL: What is it about the coastline and the local area in general that has held your undivided attention as a photographer for so long?
MP: This place is so raw and rugged, but also beautiful and delicate. Our coastline has so many different looks to it. Vancouver Island in general is a fairly dark and rainy place, especially in the winter in Tofino. Because of that, when the light does get good there are these split-second moments that you just can’t get in tropical destinations.
WL: Tell me about some of the surfers that feature heavily in the book? What is it about them that makes them fun to work with?
MP: Pete Devries is probably the most heavily featured person in the book. We’ve worked together for a long time now and he’s one of Canada’s best surfers, it’s hard to not make an entire book just on him! He’s a constant professional, always collaborating on a new angle or idea to shoot, he’s also just a really nice guy so he’s easy to be around and spend time with. There is a diverse collection of local surfers I’ve worked with over the years and I’m excited for them all to have a place in my book.
WL: In your 10 years of shooting around Tofino, how have you witnessed the place change? And do these incremental shifts appear throughout your body of work, or are you more drawn to the timeless features of the place?
MP: The town is definitely getting busier every year, as one of Canada’s premier tourist destinations. But the people who live here and the community haven’t changed, so that’s what’s stopped me from becoming too grumpy or jaded. Despite how many more surfers are in the water nowadays, I do generally lean toward shooting angles that show the least amount of people possible. That’s how surfing on the island was back in the day and that’s the timeless vibe I like to try to pay tribute to.
WL: Is there a particular experience from your time shooting there that you feel sums up your relationship with the place and the whole experience of shooting there?
MP: I was swimming with my camera at the local slab and the weather was gross, the waves were suss but I was new on the scene and eager to shoot. I swam for about 2 hours, but I was starting to get cold and was ready to go in. All of the sudden the waves turned on, so I stayed out for another hour. At this point I was really cold, the sets were slowing down so I knew it was time to go in. Then out of nowhere, the sun burst through the clouds and the lighting from the water was amazing, I stayed out for close to another hour. The rest is a bit of a blur, I couldn’t even move my fingers enough to click the shutter anymore and my teeth were chattering uncontrollably with my constant shivering.
I got washed up on the rocks on my way in and blacked out. I came to when Josh Mulcoy walked by and said “You’re crazy” and there were a bunch of empty food containers and water bottles around me. The point of that ridiculous story is that you never know what you’re going to get shooting out here. All the conditions can change at a moments notice and it really keeps you on your toes. It’s hard to put down the camera sometimes, but as fickle and frustrating as it can be, it’s also so rewarding when it all comes together. That’s probably what keeps me coming back for more every winter, I love the unexpected.