Chasing Thrills and Stills with Klemen Surk

Chasing Thrills and Stills with Klemen Surk

When you can't find Klemen in Slovenia (which is often), he's probably traveling in a van, taking advantage of whatever sport the season has to offer, and snapping photos as he goes. He has an intriguing perspective in his snapshots and on life. And even though he's not a fan of Instagram quotes, he uses them well and is quite entertaining. Please put your hands together for Klemen.


What sparked your interest in photography? How did you decide you wanted to focus on adventure photography?

I always had a creative bug inside of me. When I was younger, I was really into drawing, painting, clay sculpturing, designing...things like that. But with all of them, I eventually lost the drive that puts you behind a blank canvas and makes you create. It was too static for me. Then I found my passion for surfing, snowboarding and later mountain biking.

Photography was like a perfect companion; you can take your camera anywhere. You can be part of the action, not just the observer. I have always loved taking photos, but the never-ending desire of going out, being in nature, going places and doing things ordinary people don't bother to do has put me in so many beautiful locations and moments that my photos improved dramatically. I just had that inner voice that was telling me "That would make an awesome photo." So I started taking them. I guess all photographers look at the world this way.


You have been to many beautiful locations. What's one of your favorite photos you recently took? What's the story behind it?

I love this drone shot from Portugal last November. We were on a camper van surf trip down the Portugal coast, and we found this perfect little beach with awesome waves. These days, famous Portuguese surf spots are incredibly crowded. Beach parking lots full of camper vans, surfers and tourists. But this beach was off the beaten track and was empty.

Apart from us, there was just this big family from Romania (judging by their license plates) and they were in full summer vacay mode. Beach towels, chairs, umbrellas, everything. So I took a couple of drone shots of the beach, waves, surrounding cliffs and then caught our van and the family on the beach and it was just such a perfect "it's still summer here" postcard to send back home.


You captured the moment well. So what's been one of your favorite days shooting?

The downside of using surf, snow, bike, and SUP trips for shooting is that they're not originally meant to be shooting trips. Scoring waves or powder is the goal. So it is sometimes hard to find time to shoot. That's one of the reasons I love going on these trips with my girlfriend. She is also into photography, and whenever we see a scene worth shooting we both say: "Wow, we need to do this!" and we stop. If it takes an hour, it takes an hour. We're having fun.


That's a great reason to stop. Where do you find inspiration?

Nature amazes me over and over again. I easily get excited by the way the sun breaks through the clouds and illuminates part of the landscape. Things like that haha. Then for sure social media, Instagram and Pinterest are full of sick shots.


Would you say being a photographer makes the world a better place? Why?

I guess we can all make the world a better place if we want to. I do see that I inspire people with my photos. Inspire them to go out and to live a fuller life. I try to show that you do not have to be a couch potato once you get a regular 9-5 office job. But this is such a cliche answer these days.

Everybody wants to inspire people with their stupid Instagram quotes. Yeah, I hate quotes under photos haha. I'm not even sure that they're entirely positive anyway. People are overrunning once secret places, only focusing on their pleasure and no responsibilities. Everything has a positive and negative side.


It's true, some people obsess over vanity metrics and live their life dedicated to impressing others. That can be unhealthy, but it sounds like you're shooting for the right reasons. Do you think photography has taught you to live a full life? How?

The way my passion for surfing and photography combine and complement each other, it is almost impossible not to live a full life. Especially here in Slovenia, we have to be constantly on the move to find waves. Either chasing wind swell in the Mediterranean sea or making trips to France, Portugal, Indonesia, Morocco...there is always something going on. My living room always has some half packed, or half unpacked bags lying around (usually both).

What I have noticed is that photography has added purpose to that lifestyle. Without photography, in the end, what do you have to show? Some reef scars and good memories. But eventually, we need a purpose in life to stay balanced. We need to feel like we are doing something productive and meaningful that we are leading our lives in a specific direction. That we have a goal and that we are getting closer to it. And photography has added that dimension to this part of my life.


For someone who doesn't like posting quotes, you are good at writing them. Where can we find out more about you and your work?

You can check my Instagram (@mowgliii) where I try not to post any quotes. When I do post them, they are sarcastic :). You can also follow my surf trip stories and photos on my blog. Also, not wholly photography related, the project I am currently working on is a surf/travel/photography waterproof backpack called DryTide. It's a backpack that you can throw into the sea, and everything inside will stay safe and dry.


I'll keep them in mind as a potential partner. Thanks for your time and thoughts Klemen!

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