Photo of Lucia underwater by Sarah Lee
Lucia Griggi is an intrepid surfer and photographer, but more so than that, she is one badass woman. Lucia travels around the world, shooting big waves and big names, and has globally made a name for herself. Her passion for her profession, which is primarily male-dominated, fosters a unique experience full of perseverance and overcoming limitations defined by gender norms and stereotypes. The interview was very insightful, and I definitely learned a thing or two from Lucia. Mckenna, December 2020
Finisterre - Alaska
all photos and footage by Lucia Griggi
When did you discover your love for both surf and photography?
I was at University in London and introduced to Cornwall through some surfer friends. During this time, I would travel up and down the coast to surf the Cornwall brakes. I later started working for a surf school at Watergate Bay Beach. We also would do winter excursions to Morocco and other places. I got into photography through my love of surfing and being a surf instructor. My dad gave me his old camera, and on my travels, I used to take pictures of the other surfers and the surf lifestyle photos.
How has your photography changed over time?
I think from surfing because it took me to far fetched destinations around the globe, and I got to work for the World Surf League. There were many places I enjoyed, for example, Fiji and Hawaii. When we went to events, I spent time seeing what was on land. I enjoyed working with local tribes and also working with many different editorial companies. Through my photography, I provided my clients with stories and content from my exploring and travels. It started with surf photography, and later, I added travel, portraits, and adventure photography. Now, I am veered towards more wildlife because many of the destinations I go to are in the polar region, so I get to work with polar bears and penguins.
What are your favorite board (shape and size) and surf spots?
My favorite board is probably my Stewart 9'0, three fin set up with a pintail, and quite high performance. I love riding CMP boards, shaped by Bill Stewart, from the states. My favorite surf spot, I would say, is somewhere in California - Trestles and Swamies. I've spent a lot of time at those surf spots over the last decade, so for me, that was my backyard, and I enjoyed it.
Have you noticed any treatment, pay, or recognition disparity between you and your male counterparts?
I wouldn't necessarily say pay; however, treatment potentially yes. I think it's a very male-dominated world, especially within the field of surf photography. I believe it has taken time for the industry to open up and diversity to be accepted. Although nowadays it is a lot more. With women coming into the profession, there is the expectation that they're not strong or might not be paddling into those big waves or shooting them either. Perhaps, women were not seen as equals because no one was doing it at the time. Nowadays, I think it's pretty well respected.
What is the one thing keeping you sane during quarantine?
I'm still working for travel clients. I'm doing a lot of production, which means short trips to less remote destinations closer to home, such as Portugal and Barbados. I am doing a lot of editing work and directing, which means a lot of computer time. It is fine with me since it is an excellent opportunity to keep still and stay in one place for a while.
Who or what do you derive inspiration for your work from?
Inspiration for me comes from anyone who is driven, generally, a person who has a good outlook in life and a good purpose. I look up to anyone that looks from the environmental sides of things and strives to be a better person.
What would you tell girls looking to get into photography/film or any male-centric area?
Don't give up; you deserve to be out there just as much as the guys, no matter how big the waves are. Don't let your setbacks stop you from doing what you want to do. Set your goals high and try to achieve them.
What is your strongest attribute?
I would say swimming. It enabled a photography career in the water because I'm a strong swimmer and was competitive for some time. I would also say I don't give up. I have always kept going, even at my lowest times. I have always believed that photography is my creative outlet and my voice in the world, so I feel pretty lost without that.
Have you ever had an experience while photographing when you thought your life was in danger?
Yes, quite a few. I was shooting in the Maldives once on an island break. The boat that dropped me off didn't come back until after dark, so I was left sort of swimming with my fins and camera with no one out on the break, in the dark, which was pretty scary. The surfer I was shooting paddled the channel and came back a few hours later with a boat. Still, it wasn't particularly exciting just flapping around in the dark on a reef with 6-8 foot waves. The other time was in Fiji when I was on the jetski shooting one of the big swells that hit back in 2012. We capsized, and I drowned all my equipment. It was floating inside the channel, so that wasn't particularly fun. In both situations, I came out unharmed, and I have a story to tell.
Other articles and information about Lucia
Lucia Griggi/50 Best Travellers in the World (CNN Traveler)
Behind The Lens With Lucia Griggi (Board Masters)
Mckenna is a college student at UC Santa Cruz and enjoys surfing, skating, researching, interviewing, and writing for withigirl :)
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