Nature of Surf Women is a photography project featuring an ocean-minded community of women surfers who represent a new type of heroine in the surf world. The women featured in this project stand out for their connection to the ocean environment and for their holistic, grounded, and vibrant approach to life. In many different ways, they have all experienced transformation and found release in surfing.
Ivana and Gabriela found a powerful synergy in their collaboration—two women, a surfer and a photographer, with a shared vision: to capture nature and water from the female perspective, to tell the story of women surfers outside mainstream media portrayal, and to celebrate women exactly as they are.
Author and Producer
Ivana Bajic is a Los Angeles-based multimedia producer specialised in developing p[rojevcts that are merging art and technology. She has worked on a variety of projects ranging from artificial intelligence startups to eminent artists including Marina Abramovic and Jeff Koons. Her clients include the British Society of Cinematographers and Warner Bros. Studios.
“I discovered surfing in my thirties, the first time I visited Nosara. The ocean and jungle life gave me a sense of the greatness of mother nature and grounded me in real-life values. I returned to Nosara again and again, chasing the powerful feeling of riding a wave. The women I met there taught me about self-love and self-healing. Over time, I formed deep friendships with many of them. I became inspired to share their stories—not just as surfers, but as wise, beautiful women who have found a way to get back in touch with themselves and with nature”.
Gabriela lives between France and Costa Rica developing interdisciplinary and cultural mediation projects. Her photographic vision is a hybrid between "storytelling" documentary photography and contemporary artistic image. Gabriela is a member of the Agency Light Motiv in the North of France. In 2020, World Press Photo Organization chose her as one of the emerging talents for the 6x6 program.
“Before starting this project, I had my apprehension about the sea. This feeling came through a recurrent nightmare I have had for many years, where an immense wave drowned me. I was looking for a new challenge, but the challenge came to me through the conversion from a land photographer to a water photographer.
When I arrived in Nosara, I felt I was coming face to face with my fears. Like many of the women in this book, I found that the ocean became both an embodiment of and a metaphor for my struggles. And over time, it guided me to a place of greater peace and acceptance. In creating these photos, I began to overcome my fear and to recognize that I can exceed my own expectations”.
Holistic Surf Coach
Designer, Environmental Activist
Holly Beck traveled the world as a surf pro for ten years before settling in Nicaragua and founding Surf With Amigas, a surf retreat program specifically designed for women. Now relocated in Southern California, Holly is adding another level to her career by pursuing a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, whereby she intends to integrate her studies into a nuanced form of surf coaching: Holistic surf therapy.
“I believe in women supporting women and telling the stories of women who may not always be represented in surf media - the woman of color, the single mother, the woman who learned to surf at age 50, the woman who is still surfing at age 65. These stories need to be told. There's no airbrushed images or photos that only show someone's good side. These are real pictures of real women who love the ocean and are passionate for the sport and lifestyle that unite us all. It is my hope that we can reach beyond our lives as waveriders and connect to the global movement to protect and preserve the oceans that we love.”
Martyn Stewart is a renowned audio-naturalist whose work has been broadcast on BBC television and radio. In a half-century career, Martyn visited over 55 countries and recorded 97,000 sounds: the dawn chorus, the dusk symphony, the rush of the tides, the whispers in the grass – the chirps, cheeps, buzzes, songs, calls, clicks that make up Nature’s glorious cacophony. Today his work is available under The Listening Planet project.
"I thoroughly enjoy working on this surf book. The photography is outstanding. Using the original sounds of nature in Costa Rica- sounds of the ocean, rain, insects, and birds we have created the perfect atmosphere for your journey with the surfers captured in the book."
Katherine was a creative director in the digital space for many years before realizing it did not bring her joy. What really brought her joy was riding waves, and using her voice to protect the environment. Katherine served as a volunteer activist for Surfrider Foundation and was a recipient of Surfrider Foundation’s Wavemaker of the Year Award in 2011 for her work on the Rise Above Plastics program.
"There are myriad ways to get involved and make oneself of service here, especially since Nosara is home to the Ostional Wildlife Refuge. I support the work of Nosara Civic Association (Asociación Civica de Nosara), a community organization that has given Nosara its precious trails and green spaces. With a coalition of concerned community members, I co-founded Yo Defiendo Ostional in June 2021 in response to the overturning of the temporary building regulations in Nosara. With rapid development and zero regulations in place, we marched by the hundreds to urge the Municipality of Nicoya to restore temporary building regulations that would provide a more structured pace of growth for the town.
There are many who say the “old Nosara” is gone, and they would choose to find another paradise elsewhere. Perhaps it’s because we’re relative newcomers, but we choose to remain here and to pour positivity into causes that we love. And that’s all I can say for you, no matter where you live. Choose to do good, because there’s still so much left worth fighting for."
Kate Urban is a writer and editor living in Park City, Utah. Her work spans a wide range of genres, from short fiction, memoir, and lyric essays to research, commentary, and journalism. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found hiking and running in the mountains with her dog, Emi, or cooking delicious post-adventure snacks.
“Nature has always been where I find strength and peace. I had the chance to surf in Nosara with my mom a few years ago, and it was such a profound experience of feeling connected to her, to the environment, and to the local community. I hope this project will inspire women of all ages and backgrounds to get out there and discover their power in the water!”