Nature of Surf woman
In conversations with Ivana Bajic
She tell NFF about the beautiful project Nature of Surf woman
Could you tell us a bit about your story, where you come from, and what inspired you to work on the book project? I am a traveler and explorer. My homeland is Serbia, where I had a successful career as a TV presenter and event producer. I was always curious about the world, so I started traveling when I was 17, always visiting new places and making new friendships. I went to London to finish my MA, and I met my husband there. We created a training program for film companies and schools that gave us a chance to travel the world for almost 2 years. A job for WB brought us to Los Angels 4 years ago and we fell in love with the city. Now we live between LA and Nosara, balancing between our work and pleasure. I love extreme challenges. I climbed the first base of Mount Everest, dived with sharks, skydived... In 2014 my husband and I discovered Nosara. Riding the waves was the most euphoric thing I ever did. Nosara is an eclectic jungle town with the most stunning beaches, amazing people, monkeys, electric bikes, and vegan ice cream. We bought a little casita on our last vacation day, and we became addicted to surfing and the jungle lifestyle. Even our daughter Cali is "echo de" Costa Rica:) Surfing and my friends from Nosara made a huge impact on my personal transformation and family goals. I grow beautiful friendships with women surfers who let me in in their lives, sharing their wisdom and practice. How to use my energy wisely, how to be less impulsive, how to resist consumerism and labeling, and how much I can get just by being in nature, in the water. I surf with them every day, laughing, catching waves, and being tumbled in the water. The ocean bond us, we play together, and we learn together, and this is the most precious thing in my life. There is no job title or car or bag that can make me happy and truly alive than riding the waves with your girls in this gigantic ocean surrounded by pelicans and beautiful nature. One day, while I was sitting on my board waiting for the next set, it came to me- I should make a project about the most authentic community of women surfers from Nosara. I finally had a chance to use all my experience and knowledge to make a project that will inspire and motivate many women out there to push them selfs over the edge of their comfort zone only to discover the beauty and the strength of their body and mind connecting deeper with them self trough nature.
What was your thought process behind starting your Nature of Surf woman?
I wanted to make a coffee table book right away because art books are so beautiful. They can be displayed in the living room, hotel lobby, beach bar, etc., always attracting attention and "breathing" in someone's hands. Visual books easily can transcend you to another place, and you can always see images in a new way. Working in entertainment for the last 15 years, at the very beginning, I was focused on find a way to make a more trustful connection between surfers and the audience. I decided to go for an immersive experience blending photography, sounds of nature, interviews, and songs of the girls in order to engage more senses. In order to avoid classical surf photography, I was curious to experiment and tell the story through documentary photography. My friend connected me with Costa Rican photographer Gabriela Tellez who did remarkable work capturing symbiosis between women ocean, and nature. I was blessed that Martyn Stewart, world renovated audio naturalist and founder of the Listening Planet (the biggest library of the sounds of nature in the world), was delighted with the project and decided to work with us. Martyn donated Sounds of Costa Rica to the project making the interviews authentic and Nature of Surf Women one of the kind immersive book. Of course, the biggest contribution comes from women who decided to reveal their bodies and souls and take us to personal life journies.
We’d love to hear what you are most proud of or excited about. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way? This project is made from love! All the people who helped us on the way enriched the project with creative ideas, opening the doors to many new adventures such as exhibitions and workshops, and there is an idea for a documentary film based on the life and work of one of the girls in the book. (sorry I can't reveal any details:). On the other hand, It was a challenging project. In the beginning, I self-funded the project, and I involved my husband and almost all my friends to help me. Also, we started shooting in July and end up in the rainy season. The conditions were unpredictable, and waves were hard on us. Sometimes we would travel far away to some wild beach, set up everything for the shooting and as soon as we started the rain started pouring sometimes for 2 hours. During that waiting time, we would lose the light, got stuck in the mud with the car... It was never boring, that's for sure:) But this was the most beautiful journey I ever had: it bonded me with many women who participated in the project. We were cooking, traveling, surfing; our kids played together... I feel like I grow into a new family, and I love them and miss them every time when I get back to Los Angeles.
What do you want the world to know about the project? Nature of Surf women is an interactive book that will open your heart and mind letting you experience Nosara and be part of the women surfer's adventures. A mosaic of 30 women from ages 12 to 67 of all ethnicities, body types, and skill levels coming together to form a unique story representing the beauty and strength of female surfers. Each story will have a QR code that will take the audience onto the waves and into the lives and hearts of these extraordinary female surfers. The book reveals the true nature of surf women: athleticism, courage, camaraderie, and the peace and freedom they find riding the waves. We have produced Limited Edition Photography Prints that can be purchased on our website. Our plan is to collaborate with the surf and women-focused organizations and brands in order to organize workshops complimented with exhibitions and book presentations. We have already established a successful collaboration with Deus Ex Machina in Los Angeles, California where we set up our first exhibition that will last until November.
NFF interviews series is about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to our efforts; who else deserves a little credit and recognition in your story? If there is one thing that went beyond any of my plans and even thoughts is that this project overgrow the creator and the initial goal- making an art book. So many different ideas, inspirations, and friendships were born from Nature of Surf Women that that keeps us active and connected. The biggest credits goest to Hayley Macmillan-Ord, a founder of Centro Acuático Nosara, a Costa Rican nonprofit. Thanks to Hayley, we become a patron of CAN where a part of the book’s proceeds will go to teach children of Nosara life-saving skills of how to swim. I truly belive that before you get to your board and start surfing YOU need to have basic swimming knowledge. Surf is a dangerous sport and swimming will help you to save yours and somebody elses life. I would also mention Tati Sokolva. She is the first girl that I met in Nosara back in 2015 and it was like finding the soul sister. We love same food, same clothes, we are both super sporty to that level that we exercise together via Zoom when we are apart :). Tati accepted the most challenging role in the project: to be the line producer and coordinate 30 women for almost 6 months during our production, and that is a hell of a job:)))) She is now our Socila media coordinator doing an amazing job making compelling stories about our women surfers, healing medicine, superfood ,beautiful nature of Nosara and Costa Rica. Nowdays we can see progress and success of women surf culture. Aside of amazing new records and new rising starts in comeptive surfing the amount of organisations, fellowships, healing practice, amateur competitions, films, podcasts, gear, made by women for women is rising rapidly. And results are astonishing. Big shourt out to Textured Waves, Women Who Surf, Graund Swell Community Project, Surfing Moms...
What message do you want to send through your book? Surfing does not have to be a competitive sport. It can also be a way to meet new friends, connect with family, facilitate self-growth, reconnect with nature, and a healing practice. Nature of Surf Women is made to connect women surfers trough immersive stories creating a mirroring effect between surfers and readers. There is so much labeling, limitations, body shame or discouragement of women after certain age and Nature of Surf Women is breaking all these steryotipes showing the beauty of aging, strength of surfers body no matter of her age, strong spirt of young girls leaving in jungle, and beauty of life in slower pace environment, surrounded by nature. Nature of Surf Women is made to encourage other women to embrace the power of self love, self care and necessity for time in nature and go surfing!
If you could offer some advice or learning to other people in trying to create their own project, what would you tell them? Follow your passion. It doesn't matter how small or big your budget is and how many followers on IG you have. You need to feed your idea every day with new research, new people, new perspectives. Nothing will end up exactly as you wanted because of creative process is fluid like water. When you work for yourself, for something that you personally believe, what makes you happy and proud and if your project has a positive impact on other people and world - there si no money or bad people who will stand on your way. Because you will grow and learn and there is a big reward at the end of the road and this is self respect. Reflecting on books that had an impact on our lives Art books and artists that have huge impact on me: Mother Earth, Marsel van Oosten NASA: Past and Present Dreams of the Future Cataratas y leyendas, Javier Elizondo esquivel Dali, Gilles Néret Women, Annie Leibovitz Big Wave Surfer: The Greatest Rides of Our Lives This is Nowhere by Jeremy Koreski
You can preorder a copy of the book on our website: www.natureofsurfwomen.com