Nature of Surf Women is an interactive photography project featuring women who live and surf in Nosara, Costa Rica. Ivana and Gabriela found a powerful synergy in their collaboration—two women, a surfer and a photographer, co-creating something that reflected both of their passions. They had a shared vision for the project: To capture nature and water from the female perspective, to use photographs to tell the story of women surfers outside mainstream media portrayal, and to celebrate women exactly as they are.
Photographer and Co-author
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 Colectivo Nómada, and 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. When I arrived in Nosara, I felt I was coming face to face with my fears.
I was looking for a new challenge, but the challenge came to me through the conversion from a land photographer to a water photographer. 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”.
Producer and Author
Ivana Bajic is a Los Angeles-based multimedia producer specialized in developing projects that merge art and technology. She has worked on a variety of productions ranging from artificial intelligence startups to projects with eminent artists including Marina Abramovic and Jeff Koons. Her clients include British Society of Cinematographers and Warner Brothers 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. In surfing I found freedom from stereotypes and competition, and from the desire to have and consume more than I needed in life.
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”.
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 first got into the sounds of nature when I was about eleven. I grabbed my late brother’s microphone who played in a band, and my older brother’s recorder, and went into the hedgerows. The woods was my studio. Some people think I’m crazy, going out for six hours to get 20 seconds of sound. But to me, that’s like winning life’s lottery.”
Katherine was a creative director in the digital space in New York and Los Angeles for many years before finding her voice as an activist.
Katherine served as a volunteer 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.
She holds a Master of Fine Arts in 2D Design from Cranbrook Academy Art, and a Bachelor of Arts from UC Berkeley in Comparative Literature.
“In 2011, I sailed to the island nation of Kiribati on an expedition to study plastic pollution. A mere four years later, at the COP21 Paris conference, the Kiribati people stood at the forefront of Pacific Island nations demanding that governments keep global temperature rise below 1.5 C. Climate change was nowhere near our minds when we sailed through Kiribati. This experience showed me the inextricable connection between all environmental movements, how quickly things have escalated, and the urgency to act on them.
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!”