From the back street of Nantes, somewhere between the city and the ocean, a 14-year-old Thomas discovered photography, shooting anything from street life to BMX and surfing. Inspired by the theory that the image is number one, he quickly developed his skills to become the photographer he is today.
With his own surf magazine, Sorry Mom, and regular assignments for Hotdogger and now cult Australian publication Foam Symmetry, it is clear Thomas has grasped (and excelled at) every opportunity that has been thrown in his direction.
In between his busy life shooting, surfing and generally cramming as much as is physically possible into his day, we caught up with him to talk about the Basque Country, Biarritz and Bucketlists.
Hey Thomas, how is it going in Biarritz ?
Pretty good! There are waves everyday with a nice wind for more than two weeks now, the temperatures are cooling but the sun still shines – not today though… So yes life’s good!
You have moved there from your home town of Nantes, is that correct?
Yes I moved here more than a year and a half now for two reasons: for work and for the ocean! I was living in Nantes where I grew up, it’s a really nice city, located just south of Brittany not so far from the sea (around 45 min from the nearest beaches) but surfing there can be really tricky…
For most people the waves are difficult to find, you have to take into account many variables and be readily available if you want to surf, otherwise the good banks of Brittany or Vendée are around two hours drive… So after my studies in graphics, I decided to move south to start as a freelance sport photographer – with a strong interest in surfing of course.
Is there such a thing as a standard Lodin day?
Haha the Lodin day concept makes me laugh!
I’m working mostly at home as a graphic designer and photographer so it depends on a lot of things. Mostly, it’s just about one thing: waves! I usually get up early, maybe super early, to go surfing if there are waves, with the aim of being back home around 9am to start working on graphics stuff for various clients, do some emails or edit some photos.
At midday I will take a break to eat and chill (or to go surfing) and then go back to work until 6pm with my eye always on the weather and forecast so I can go out and shoot if the light is looking interesting.
If the waves are really really good, I will manage to take my morning or day off my graphic work to go shoot with some surfers or just alone driving along the coast to see the beautiful line-ups in the morning and sunset light. After all this, a good dinner is always welcomed followed by a movie or something like that – alone or with my girlfriend.
You seem to like photographing longboarding. Is that your favourite style or is it just by chance?
Yes and no, I just started surfing with a true love for longboarding, with my first pay cheque I bought one for myself but I wasn’t really into surf photography at that time.
The style, dance and moves in longboarding were, and still are, just beautiful and inspiring to me.
That inspiration grew inside me and I started to focus my lens around surfing and later by chance Hoalen (French outdoor clothing brand from Brittany) asked me to shoot one of their ambassadors: Mathieu Maréchal, who surfs longboards with so much style.
We became friends and three months later we did a road trip on the east coast of Australia. We still shoot a lot together so that’s how it all started.
I also really like all the retro boards like twin, single fins, finless etc, because most of the people I hang out with now are surfing these types of boards.
These rides make a direct reference to where surfing has come from and its history, it’s what I like the most. I’m really into the history of surfing. I also really like powerful turns, carves and airs from a Dane Reynolds, Mick Fanning or Dion Agius for example, and would like to shoot some like this soon.
Do you have a single favorite image or is that too difficult to choose?
Oh no, I haven’t shot the perfect one yet… I can’t pick one in particular but I really like one of my friend Mathieu I took in Java last February – he’s just noseriding on three feet waves and looking at the sky with his eyes closed. This is a pure feeling of what surfing means for me.
What is next on the Bucketlist?
Hard to say, too much! Go shoot and surf waves at the four corners of the world and maybe start by exploring all of the French coastline could be a good idea 🙂
Do you remember a time when you weren’t surfing?
Yes, I actually started surfing late, when I was around 16 or 17 I guess, thanks to my brother who offered me a tri-fin shortboard that he rebuilt for me.
I was really into BMX before and that’s how I started taking pictures, when I was 12 or 13 while hanging out with some friends at the local skatepark or in the fields. Step by step, I wanted to do more nice pictures. I got a couple of articles, reports and photo galleries published in some of the french BMX magazines before I moved to the South West of France, this really helped fuel the passion.
I was watching the X Games and La Nuit de la Glisse on VHS with my friends, which also included BMXing, Skating, Snowboarding and Surfing.
I also had the chance to spend some time every summer at my grand parents’ house on the coast and go bodyboarding with my cousin, so surfing was kind of a dream at that time…
Then, after my brother’s present and when I got my driving license, I abandoned my bike for the benefit of my surfboard…
Who were your surfing heroes growing up? What about today’s crew?
I don’t remember but when I first saw One California Day, I was shocked by all the level and styles of all the guys, like Joel Tudor obviously but also Jimmy Gamboa, Devon Howard, Alex Knost, Tyler Warren, Tyler Hatzikian etc…
Today I’m still a fan of these guys and also guys like Matt Chojnacki and Matt Cuddihy, who ride the same traditional style. I also like the vibes of all the crew of What Youth for example, it’s fresh and fun to watch.
I can’t write all the skilful guys here because there are too many, each has their own style and interpretation of surfing!
Where is your favourite surf spot ? Is that the same as your favourite photography location ?
From where I’ve visited, I could say the points in Noosa Heads or in the little town of Crescent Head, the waves were absolutely perfect but there’s also this little reef break we’ve surfed in Java, the local spot of M. Husni Ridwan, also perfect, so i’m not sure I can pick a favourite. It could be any perfect right-hander with not too many people on it.
I have no favorite photography location either, these waves were all awesome to shoot so I really have no favourite, it could be the next one I haven’t been to yet, with a great scenery around and without too many currents, if I can choose…
Have you ever been sent on any odd assignments?
Yes, my first trip to Australia with Mathieu (Maréchal) was an assignment for Hoalen (the brand he’s ambassador for). We spent a month driving from Sydney to Noosa in search for perfect waves and shooting to get some surf content and to shoot their summer collection.
So many great memories! I also work from time to time for the WSL (World Surf League), so I have been shooting a couple of WQS and WCT events mostly in France but also in Spain and Portugal.
You have featured in Foam Symmetry with longboarder Margaux Arramon-Tucoo. How did that come about?
Back two years ago when Mathieu and I were in Noosa for the Noosa Festival of Surfing, Margaux was also there and Justin Bevan from Foam Symmetry too. I just went to talk to him briefly to introduce myself, tell him what I was doing in France and that I’ll be stoked to feature my work in his magazine because we share the same vision of surfing.
Back in France, I sent him a couple of pictures I took during our Australian trip. He ran these in the next issue and told me he really would like to feature Margaux at home in the magazine, so that was it. To push the thing further, as a graphic designer I also did the layout of the article in the spirit of the magazine.
Are you working on anything exciting we should know about?
I’m trying to document all of the Basque Country everyday with my own eyes, and I would like to take some time to shoot all of the French coastline. I’m working unpretentiously on a photo series shot on film with a Pentax 67, but these things might be a few years in the making…
Want to find out more about Thomas? Visit www.thomaslodin.com