JASON REPOSAR

Jason Reposar Photo Feature
A man of mystery in a sense, Jason Reposar is a name that transcends fashion and surf culture. He was one of the first to take a new, more intimate approach to capturing his subjects, and has always stayed true to himself and his photography. That’s someone we can admire and respect for all of the right reasons.

Where were you born and where do you currently reside?
I was born in Liverpool, England. I moved to USA with my family in my teens and now reside in Bali, Indonesia.

Tell us about how you first became interested in photography?
I got into surf photography through doing freelance graphic design. I had a job designing an ad for Proctor Surfboards and the photo I was given to use for the ad was out of focus so I asked Todd (Proctor) to rent me some camera gear and buy some film so I could get a better image for the ad. I ended up taking Jay Rice down to DMJ’s in San Diego to go shoot and it just so happened that Taylor Knox, Dino Andino, Donovan Frankenrieter and Pat O’Connell were surfing the same spot. I ended up with a batch of images of all those guys that looked really good to me. A few days later I hit the offices of SurferSurfing and Transworld Surf, showing them all my photos. At Transworld Surf, the photo editor, Steve Sherman gave me a deal with free film and developing in exchange for first right of refusal for any surf images I shot from that moment forward.

When did you realize photography was going to be your career?
I suppose I realized I was going to be a photographer that same day I shot my first ever photos. It was love at first sight kind of thing. I’d been surfing since the age of 14 and would spend thousands of hours studying surf magazines. So at that moment I think it was like everything just revealed itself to me – that this is what I’m here to do. I would be a surf photographer. From that day forward I just became totally obsessed with surf photography. I never looked back and it seemed like everything came really easily.

You were one of the first photographers to go away from conventional surf photography. Was that intentional or was it just your natural way of shooting?
I got to a point in my life where I just couldn’t really keep up with my bills with the income I was making as a surf photographer so I started shooting fashion to make up the difference. I found that there was a lot more money shooting for fashion brands and young designers. The more work I was getting doing those jobs, the more work I was being asked to do. So my ties to shooting surf sort of faded out. In order to stay prolific in surf photography you have to really work hard at it and stay busy traveling. So my career as a surf photographer sort of came to an end. I still shoot surf here and there because I just love doing it but these days I’ll find myself surfing rather than shooting,  unless the waves are massive and I have some guys to shoot with.

How has your career shifted in the past ten years?
My career has almost completely shifted into fashion and portrait work these last ten years. I’ve been residing in Bali and mostly working with young designers and bikinis brands over here. I do editorial work for a few Asian fashion magazines and worldwide editorial portrait assignments for international magazines. I also get overseas and shoot some rock and roll bands, which I really love doing. I also opened a studio in Bali and a production company, which is really successful, so I’m a lot more comfortable financially these days. Lately I’ve been getting back into shooting surf a bit more than I have in a long time. Maybe I’ll figure out how to get back in the mix with surf photography again, let’s see.

Who or what inspires you on a daily basis, and has that changed since you were first starting out?
I get really inspired by the young up-and-coming photographers these days. There seems to be so many new names out there who are making some really interesting images. I follow a lot of them on Instagram and every now and again one of them will just blow my mind with something they do with lighting, editing or compositions. When I began shooting I would study the old masters like Helmut Newton, Ellen Von Unwerth or Peter Lindberg. I still love and admire these photographers, and many more actually, but I find inspiration in the new up-and-comers because the game is changing constantly and these kids are the ones changing the game. I want to keep growing as a photographer myself, without copying or trying to be someone I’m not. I think being current on trends then seeing how I can grow my own style in trend is how I can remain relevant in the current marketplace here.

What’s a hobby you’re really interested in right now?
I don’t really have any hobbies unless surfing could be called that. But after 34 years surfing it’d be hard for me to call that a hobby. Maybe droning is my current hobby because I suck at it but I’m doing it all the time to try to figure it out without crashing it and losing the thing in the water. So far I’ve made zero amazing images with it that I’m stoked on and crashed it trying to shoot video three times so far. Luckily on land and not in the water, so i still have it working for me.

What are your thoughts on the state of the surf industry right now and where it sits in the broader fashion industry?
The surf industry as I knew it ten years ago seems to have completely changed with the new digital age. The magazine I worked for,Transworld Surf, throughout my career is now gone along with a lot of other surf publications. This makes me sad. I still prefer to sit down and look through pages rather than looking at my phone or computer. It’s just not the same but I understand that it’s just not financially viable for these publications to survive. Everything now moves so fast. There is a big swell somewhere and that afternoon the world is looking at video and photos of what happened that day. It’s a great thing but since I haven’t been focusing my attention on how to keep up with this change I really don’t understand how these guys are making money traveling all over to document the swells as they happen anymore. Other than working for Red Bull and getting a salary I’d have no idea how to make money doing this anymore. It seems like everything is about Instagram and likes and followers. It seems like surf fashion isn’t what it was either. I don’t really see the fashion of surf being any different than it was ten years ago. Still the same logo tee shirts, the same shorts and and khaki pants. The board shorts are a bit better but what has changed or innovated in ten years? Not much from where I sit. The bikini brands have evolved a bit. I really love how they are being marketed visually and these are the photographers I’m getting inspiration from. The rest of the surf industry? I’m really just looking at clips and photos of surfers blowing my mind doing amazing things. The fashion of surf is kinda boring in my opinion.

If you could visit one place you’ve never been before where would you go and why?
I’ve never been to Tavarua and it’s one of those places I’d look at in high school and dream of going to. Most of the other places I’ve been to but not there. It’s still on my list of places to go to.

What projects are you working on at the moment?
Right now I’m working on a new photo studio in Bali. Im building a bigger modern space and incorporating production business offices, a restaurant and a boutique hotel into the design. I want to have a creative space to host traveling artists and content creators and venture into events and a bigger reach for my production services business.

What makes you happiest in life?
My family and friends make up my entire world. Without them there is nothing for me. I’m truly blessed to have really amazing people in my life.

Do you have an end goal of retiring or do you want to continue to work for as long as you can?
I absolutely love what I do. I’ll be shooting photos until the day that I die. I have no end goal. I’ll leave that up to the big man upstairs.