Jason Naude - Photographer

When did you get your first surfboard?
I got my first surfboard a long time ago. I think I must have been about 6. It was a 5’4 with hand painted flames on it. He shaped and glossed it for me. I was a full on water baby. My dad (Paul Naude) is an ex-professional surfer from South Africa so I grew up in the ocean and started surfing when I was pretty young.

What is it that you love about surfing?
I guess the sensation that you get from riding a wave. You’re focused on nothing but what’s in front of you and it’s just total freedom. You can’t really get that feeling from anything else. Other than maybe snowboarding when you’ve got two feet of fresh powder under you.

Did you spend most of your childhood in South Africa?
No, I spent most of my childhood in California. My parents moved over here when I was about 1 and a half, but since then I’ve been back to South Africa about 3-4 months collectively every year since.

Do you have a favourite Surf Spot?
Tough question. There’s one that’s a secret but my overall favourite spot that I’ve surfed would have to be J Bay. I’m a regular foot so it’s just perfect.

Do you have many boards in your garage at the moment?
I’m currently on the East Coast so I have none here! But back at home I’ve got quite a few. The standard Californian gamut ranging from one step up to everything in between.

What is your go-to board?
At the moment it’s one that my dad shaped me for my birthday. It’s modeled off a Danny Hess Ranger model so it’s great in the flats and hollow ones, it’s a quad fin, so I’ve really been enjoying riding that.

Who’s been the biggest influence over your career and life in general?
My parents have really shaped me into the person that I’ve grown up to be. In terms of photographic inspiration, recently it’s been guys like Chris Burkard, Jeff Divine, Flame’s work etc. I really admire Clark Little and Zac Noyle too. There are so many surf photographers that are really talented and it’s so hard to choose one in particular to draw inspiration from. I try to just hone in on what each of them do well and try to emulate it rather than copy it in my own work.

When did you get your first camera?
2004. I remember I wrote in my little 8th grade year book that I wanted to be a professional photographer when I grew up unknowing that I actually would be.

How do you find being on the other side of the lens rather than riding the waves?
At times it does get frustrating. If I’m on location and it’s absolutely firing I really want to get out there. If it’s BIG, then I’m more comfortable sitting in the boat or being on the beach. My limit is about 8-10 feet so if it’s anything bigger than that you’ll find me on the beach.

What sort of work have you found yourself getting?
I work doing a lot of catalogue and e-commerce stuff for Vissla, which pays the bills right now. I enjoy it because at the end of the day it’s what I love doing, taking a photo and making a living from it. Obviously I’m not at the beach all the time shooting surf photos but when I can fit that into my schedule I’m there instantly.

Do you have a favourite surfer to shoot?
Pretty much anybody who rips! I’m pretty impartial to who I shoot, I’ve actually started shooting a lot of longboarding recently. I’ve been trying to get away from the high performance stuff and trying to find a more unique angle for my photography. I’m not trying to sell every image that I take, I’d just like to go back through my images one day and think “oh, this is a cool shot!”, and know that I have something that others don’t.

What kind of education do you have?
I have a Bachelor of Science in Photojournalism. So it’s a college degree in Photography from Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara.

What was your first job?
My first job was working in a surf store in Laguna Beach. I did that from when I was about 16-20, then got into full time photography and haven’t looked back.

Have you ever tried your hand at shaping?

I shaped a Paipo but that is about the extent of my shaping career. It’s a whole other world. I can make knives though!

Knives!? What kind?
I’ve made a few hunting and skinning knives. I actually sold some to a guy in a store in Laguna the other day and they’ve already sold. Pretty stoked. I get the blades done, and then shape the handles and everything else myself. It was something I was just doing for fun then ended up making a bit of money from it.

Your father, Paul Naude, is a pretty big deal within the Surf Industry. How has your father’s career path influenced yours?
It has definitely given me a great work ethic. I’ve witnessed how hard he works and I know that if I say I’m going to do something then I don’t do it, he will be the first person to kick my ass. He’s my biggest critic and I admire him for that. He’s been in the business a lot longer than I have and a lot longer than a majority of others, so he’s definitely my go-to guy for advice and direction. I’ve been fortunate enough to be his son which has opened a few doors for me, so I am nothing but grateful to him.

Are there any drawbacks from that association?
There is that lingering expectation I guess, that I have big shoes to fill. I obviously do, but I don’t want to fill them in the way in which the industry believes I need to fill them. I don’t see myself being the head of Vissla one day, I would rather make my own path in life while still maintaining the values and lessons that my father has taught me. I thrive in a more relaxed environment.

Where do you hope to steer your photography career?
I’m not really sure at this point. I don’t want to be in the studio my entire life but in saying that, I’m really enjoying it at the moment. There is an art to it that a lot of people may not realize. I’d love to be able to make a living from lifestyle type shoots for different publications one day. I want to remain in the surf/ action sports industry obviously because it is where my heart is. 

Where can we find you online?

Web:  jnaudephoto.com
Instagram: instagram.com/jasonnaude


Posted by: Troy Roennfeldt, on August 14, 2014
Categories: Interviews