As a surf media outlet, we often get some of the first few glimpses of an up and coming talent – both in the water and behind the lens. Yes, we’ve had an eye on photographer Marcus Paladino for some time now via his work that had been making its way down the coast. Shooting guys like Peter Devries, Sepp Bruhwiler, and other BC hardcore talent, you can tell pretty quick the guy’s legit. Just by who he hangs with. Obviously, Marcus is in with the right crew up Tofino way.
As big fans of his work, we were eager to see more. We hit him up with a few questions and he sent us a little peek of what he’s been up to.
Good stuff. Enjoy.
What Youth: Where were you born and where do you currently reside?
Marcus Paladino: I was born in the city of Vancouver, Canada. But raised across the water in a town called Nanaimo. It was a great place to grow up but an easy place to get stuck in. I moved out to Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island in 2011 and have called it home for almost 10 years.
WY: When did you first get into photography? How about surf stuff?
MP: I signed up for photography class in high school was because my older sister said it was an easy A. Considering the only A I ever got in school was in PhysEd, I thought I could use the GPA boost. My mind was always hard to keep up with, which is part of why I never did well in school, but working with 35mm film and creating timeless art slowed everything down and gave me a sense of calm. With no distractions, I found myself in a peaceful bliss quietly working away in the darkroom. When I first moved to Tofino, I lived in staff accommodations at a beachfront resort, the majority of my 20 roommates were avid surfers so I just started shooting photos/video of my friends. I spent everyday working to live, biking in the cold, standing in the rain and surfing as much as humanly possible. With a lack of sun, numb feet, no money, limited gear, amazing friends, and constantly changing conditions, I got by.
WY: Print or digital?
MP: When I first started shooting, it was all film. I’m truly honoured to have fallen in love with photography in its original form. Though nowadays 99% of what I shoot is just digital.
WY: Who are some of the older photo legends you look up to and why?
MP: Before I knew surfing in Canada was even a thing, I always loved Jeremy Koreski’s work. I admired his photography for so long, his raw style and the way he brought such energy and storytelling to each image. The surf scene is pretty small here, so we eventually ended up working with a lot of the same athletes. It was a really strange feeling, going from such a big fan to more of a comrade/competitor in that regard. Other photographers that inspire me include Jordan Manley, Colin Adair, Ashley Barker, Brian Bielmann, Zak Noyle, Ryan Miller, Corey Wilson to name a few.
WY: Do you surf as well?
MP: Yes. Surfing inspires me to shoot and shooting gets me inspired to surf, it’s a great balance. There have been times when I’d been shooting so much, it’s refreshing to leave the camera at home and go for a surf myself. Surfing regularly helps keep me connected to the ocean and my craft in a completely different aspect than just taking photos all the time.
WY: Tofino is definitely on the map as a surf destination these days, how has the popularity changed the local vibe?
MP: Tofino was a very different place back in the day (or so I’m told) there used to be a lot of beef between people in the fishing & logging industry and surfers. I’ve only lived here for less than a decade, but it’s already changed so much even in just that amount of time. I remember running out to go surfing mid-winter and there wasn’t a single person on the beach. With the popularity of “storm watching” this place is pretty busy with tourists year-round now. The community itself hasn’t really changed that much, it’s still a very tight-knit family of under 2000 year-round residents. Though in the summertime you can tell everyone is burning the candle at both ends, so people’s patience can start to wear thin around town and in the water.
WY: Who are a few of your favorite surfers to shoot?
MP: Pete Devries is absolutely amazing to shoot with, he’s not only super talented but also a really hard worker and is always looking for new angles and ideas. Michael ‘Waterspider’ Darling is my boy, I’ve been shooting with him since the early days and he’s come a long way as a surfer and as a person as well. I owe a lot of my success, both professionally and personally, to these two.
MP: There’s a spot near home that’s a right-handed slab and it is hands down my favourite place to shoot in the world. It doesn’t break very often, but when it’s on there’s no place I’d rather be. The best (and scariest) moments of my life have been shooting from there, it’s a really special place to me.
WY: Have you traveled overseas much, and what were a few of your favorite destinations?
MP: We’ve had a good winter here, so I’ve been spending lots of time shooting at home lately. In the last few years, I’ve been to France, Portugal, Japan, Mexico, UK, Hawaii & California. My favourites would be Japan for the people, UK for the waves, and Europe for the culture.
WY: Any trips planned?
MP: I might be going to El Salvador to follow Team Canada for the ISA contest in May, it’s the final event that decides which surfers and what countries qualify for the 2020 Olympics. What I have learned is that as much as I want to plan trips, or have certain ideas in my mind, the best surf trips have happened with very little notice. There is something pretty special about getting a call that a swell is approaching the other side of the world, packing my bags, and hopping on a plane the next day. So, who knows what the next few months, or even the next week, has in store for me.
WY: Any last comments on any related subject?
MP: Please stop spot naming, even if you’re not a photographer.
A few more from Marcus’ files.
Do yourself a favor and check the man on his webpages and Insta. Well worth a deep dive.
Portfolio website – www.marcuspaladino.com
Print shop – www.marcuspaladinoprints.com
Instagram handle – @marcuspaladino