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Abraham Hochtrasser at Puerto Escondido, Mexico
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Through the Lens: Edwin Morales in session with Abraham Hochstrasser

Nov 272018

Photography is an art that captures social interaction and freezes a moment in time for future generations. Action Sports photography demands tough physical and psychological training, improvisation, speed and a constant fight against the violent conditions of mother nature.

There’s a photographer from Oaxaca, Mexico, who puts the name of his country at the top with his extraordinary work and the long-list of top athletes he’s shot over the years. Morales specializes in surfing, but this time he decided to test his skills with World Champion Jet Ski rider, Abraham Hochstrasser.

Morales decided to shoot Hochstrasser at a Big Wave competition - World Surf League Championship at Zicatela Beach. The XL swell factor immediately increased the level of difficulty and danger for Morales. This risky project produced some of the first photos taken from within the sea for this kind of sport.

“The most interesting thing was entering a world of which I wasn’t aware of. I did not know Abraham’s abilities and I did not have a complete idea of the Jet Ski sport. I did not know how we were going to coordinate in the water. It was extremely interesting to realize that little by little we hit it off very well and quickly”.

 

One the most important aspects of capturing Hochstrasser is that the shots were never planned. Compared to other activities, it was a full-exercise that demanded coordination between the camera, the photographer and the waves. Most of the moments throughout the shoot were unpredictable: “being in the water, he (Hochstrasser) gave me some tips so we could work together, I just let my instincts run”, Morales confessed.

Nature played a huge role, especially in the water, where danger was constant due to the unpredictable waves.  Zicatela Beach, has one of the world’s most dangerous beach breaks of the world so this increased the complexity and risk of the session. This is something that Morales always takes into consideration. His routine before taking pictures consists of studying the tide direction, the wind and the intensity of the ocean’s currents. Arriving very early to capture this data helps him prepare for the task at hand.

 

When questioned about his physical preparation, he detailed that as a photographer he needs to be in the same condition of the athlete he will be shooting for the day. Shooting in the water means that he could be swimming for hours. Avoiding waves and sea animals requires an optimum level of cardiovascular training. To keep calm when being in the worst of situations, he also practices Apnoea, which helps him when everything happens in a matter of seconds and breathing could become a struggle.

 

With Morales’ long history of surfers around the world, he constantly ends up in frantic moments, but he swears to be a fan of taking risks: “Adrenaline is my partner 100%, the more dangerous the situation is, the better I focus. When I go into the water, I know that I have taken into account all the risks and I am 100% sure that I will return alive”.

However, he is aware that not every time you can be adventurous and sometimes it is better not to face the dangers. If he doesn’t feel physically prepared, he takes pictures from other angles, as he said, "valuing my life to the fullest”.

 

When talking about more technical aspects, he uses his Canon Mark IV camera and one of his favorite lens, a 13 mm fisheye. These are the items with which he managed to expand the field of perception and reduce the visual distance between Hochstrasser and himself.

 

After 13 years of passion for extreme photography, Edwin Morales told us that it has not been easy to trace a path in the field of water sports photography. However, he has found refuge in the advice of other experts and social media, that has helped him to share his material. Nothing discourages him. This talented Mexican sees happiness as returning home and explode in excitement watching each of his creations.

As for working with Abraham Hochstrasser he said he was very happy to have collaborated with him:

 

"He is an extremely talented athlete, who is in total control of what he does and is very capable of achieving his goals. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had as a photographer, since the results were outstanding and seeing the expression of Abraham watching the photos basically made my day. I hope we can work together many more times in the future.”

 

Abraham himself said about working with Edwin Morales: "It has been one of the best sessions of my life captured in a sublime way, above all because of the enormous complexity involved in controlling the ferocity of the waves. It was very important to be coordinated to avoid any accidents and to achieve a great result. I thank him for his great work, without a doubt a moment that I will never forget: perfect waves, sun, beach and a Monster Energy drink. What else can I ask for?”

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