Living free, no burden of commitment to places and things. Marcus Paladino blurs the lines between photography and art. A lifestyle without labels, he opts for simplistic descriptions: “surf photo and nature shot,” and calls nowhere his home.
Marcus was born in Vancouver, his parents moved to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island when he was young. Despite him describing it as a great place to grow up, the moment he graduated high-school, in his own words: “I left as soon as humanly possible.” It began one summer when he woke up and had the realisation that he’d never been to Tofino. So he hopped in his car and headed down very narrow winding roads – driving across the island — and ended up spending the weekend. He’s been living there for the past five years.
On Vancouver Island there was an abundance of things to do as a child, from skating, to mountain biking, and of course surfing.
But for Marcus, it was all about snowboarding. He loved all the hikes and trails around the island, the feeling of exploration every day.
The surfing bug was somewhat delayed for Marcus. The first time wasn’t a fond memory: “It was cold, tiring and I got crushed trying to get past the break.” It wouldn’t become fun until he started going out with people who were more capable, allowing them to push him to go out on the bigger days, giving him tips and the do’s and don’ts.
After his first summer in Tofino he left for the Snowboard season, during his down-time he would watch surf videos and that’s when the realisation kicked in . . . he was hooked.
Jump back some years, back to the high-school days. This is where Marcus found his passion for photography, having an interest in art but being unable to draw, he turned to photography. “We only used 35mm film cameras and we developed everything ourselves. I feel honoured to have got to discover photography in its original form. Even today, I’d much rather spend four hours in a darkroom than two hours behind a computer screen.”
Being from Canada, Marcus is no stranger to the cold – embracing the bone tingling hug from mother ocean – he puts on his cold wet wetsuit: stating it’s “the only thing that slows me down.”
Although it’s far colder to be shooting than surfing, Marcus loves a challenge and the mystery of not knowing what you’ll get whilst shooting in the water. Describing: “It’s more of a mental battle than anything, if the waves suck or I haven’t linked-up with anyone, I get cold and I’m over it.”
As with rising from bed in a cold house, Marcus has to get himself pumped to go surfing, telling us that he usually watches surf edits to get him “psyched” and that “coffee helps too.”
The secluded locations allow Marcus to truly escape, not only into his art, but just get lost from the busy lives that so many of us face. Any time he wants to hit one of the spots around him, he’ll be finding himself trekking through the forest.
“The tricky ones are when you have to cross waist-deep rivers.” The vast coastlines deliver for any explorer willing to search, with so many spaces and vast wilderness “it’s hard to not want to explore.” Not fond of the jet ski, Marcus would rather hike up and camp even if it’s mid-winter, as long as it means checking the waves from the tent, and getting to blissfully fall asleep with the sounds of the waves hitting the bank and being awakened by the sounds of eagles.
Despite the passion and homeliness of the cold conditions, Hawaii is a great source of inspiration for Marcus, the same as it is an abundance of inspiration for many of us in the Surfing community. It’s beautiful scenery, climate, and of course waves. Or as Marcus put it: “It would be nice to shoot in board-shorts for a change.”
For a passionate young nomad who cares deeply about his craft, it’s all about looking forward to new experiences: “I’ve grown a lot as a photographer and a person in the last couple of years, I’d like to keep pushing myself professionally. I’m looking to invest in better camera equipment, sometimes I feel like that’s the only thing slowing me down. Photography and surfing are so similar; It’s a very personal experience, and the progression never ends.”
Interview by Louis Hall
Photos by Marcus Paladino