Have you ever seen images that create an unexpected desire of being somewhere else? Not because this place is perfect either because you want to have a new adventure, but simply because you want to become part of a moment that was beautiful enough to make it become timeless? I do and Ale Romo is the one to blame.
Ale is a passionate photographer that follows the sea and surfing across the globe. Originally from Mexico, she decided to move to the States when she was younger with the American dream in her mind. Not exactly what she was expecting, she moved to France in search of new horizons. She fell in love with the sport of surfing while working for Surf Rider Foundation and moved to San Sebastian, allowing her to surf daily. She’s the kind of gal that constantly push women surfing and wish there were more groups of females going on surf trips to remote places. She wants to push the sport further and she’s planning to do so with the help of her camera.
It’s 6 am and I barely slept because I was too scared of missing up my call with Ale. If you think she is just taking photos of surfing, you should wait and see. Ale is way more than just a photographer and her mindset is one of the most beautiful.
She’s not only taking pictures of people and the ocean, she’s capturing the soul of the world through her lens so anyone can feel the moment with her. In her photos, she wants you to understand that you can do the same as her and live passionately of what stirs up your soul.
Can you tell me a bit more about where you are from and how you ended up working within the surf industry?
I was born in Mexico, moved to the States and moved to France afterwards. I decided to go to Barcelona to do a master degree and stayed there ever since. I started to surf eight or nine years ago when I was volunteering at the Surf Rider Foundation.
The whole summer, we were travelling up North to surf because there is not a lot of surfing in Barcelona. I quickly became more involve with the foundation. I was doing their marketing campaign and one day, they were looking for someone that speaks English, French and Spanish: I thought it could be me. I sent my resume and I got the job, so I moved to San Sebastian. It was a great opportunity as all I wanted was to surf every day.
I was running the office of Surf Rider for Spain and Portugal during three years. I was constantly learning something new and made a lot of contacts in the surf industry. My contract ended up one year and a half ago, then I didn’t know what to do. I had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua and see what’s going on, so I went there for three months. I realized that I didn’t want to go back to an office job, not anymore.
Surprisingly, photography became more serious and this is why I am now shooting every day.
So, what are you doing in Barcelona now? I think you’ve got a business going on?
Yes, exactly. During my first year in Nicaragua, I really got inspired to do a lot of things and I started working on it. One of the things I really wanted was to organize surf and yoga retreats.
Did you start your company on your own or you’re working with someone else?
I have a business partner that I actually met in Nicaragua. She’s originally from Holland, but she now lives in Bali. I decided to stay two months more than her to connect with people doing similar things.
How does it work to go on one of your retreat?
It really depends on the place. Just right now, I’m working on a project to have a house here, in San Sebastian, to do a retreat for the summer. Normally, our retreat can be seven to ten days. The one in Nicaragua is 10 days. We offer some dates, you check it out and apply on the procedure online. I send you a PayPal form so you can pay the deposit and after you pay the rest. The retreat is about everything related to surfing: healthy food, surfing and yoga.
Easy and convenient, exactly what we like.
You’re working on so many things all at once that I am even surprised you found the time to talk to us today! How did your project came together?
Last year was a crazy year because I wanted to do everything: writing, organizing, shooting pictures… I was also working for some surf events, doing the communication and press. It was too much. So, this year, I’m trying to focus on big projects. I am still writing, but not that much. I’m writing more intelligently because I want to put my energy on the things that really matter, like my pictures. The retreat is a big project as well.
Woah, you’re on fire [laugh]!
You also started your own blog, “From Where You’d Rather Be”—can you tell us a bit more about it?
When I went to the Nicaragua for the first time, I wanted to start a Tumblr. I had one already for my California’s adventures called “California Mission” and the pictures were all black and white. It went well, so when I went to Nicaragua I decided to start another one. So, I started this site as a blog, mainly for posting pictures and to talk about my experiences.
It’s more to showcase my adventures but also my work and what I do. I just started planning the retreat and usually, I put the information for the retreat on there as well. It kind of developed as a business brand, ’’From Where You Rather Be “ it speaks. During winter time, a lot of people write to me that they’re going to Nicaragua because of my pictures and it’s something really cool to hear!
Do you remember the first time you bought a camera? Did you expect it would become such a big part of your life?
The first camera I got was from my father. He bought it when he got married with my mother 30 years ago and he gave it to me while I was in school. I still got that camera and it’s really amazing because I’m the person who loses everything! I hope I’m not going to lose it in the future, especially that it’s a really cool camera, a Minolta. I still use it, it’s very good, but only for some pictures. I’m usually using digital because films tend to be a bit expensive.
What would your dream assignment be?
When I started to take pictures, what I really wanted to do is to go on an adventure with girls that surf. Not necessarily pro surfers, but a dream of mine would be to go to the Maldives with 10 girls, take pictures and document it all. I really love to shoot girls that surf, even though I only have few pictures of them.
What do you think of the presence of girls in the surf industry? Is it enough?
I think men are always more present, but it’s everywhere. The sport is changing though. I don’t think a lot of women were motivated to try surfing before because it is originally such a macho sport. You see all these guys ripping and shredding while the girls you see in the video are just hanging at the beach with mini bikinis. If we compare with last year though, it evolves a bit more and now we can finally see women’s skills, not just their bikini shots.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
The hardest part is to be able to go whenever you want to go. It takes a lot of commitment to say: “ok, I am going to work for this long and after I will go away.” It’s not like an office job that you can just go and come back. The lifestyle I chose is more difficult in that term: I have to drive a lot of projects, propose them and fight for them. I don’t enjoy being in an office, but I see why it’s so comfortable. The routine is good, but I’m just tired of that. I really like to work on my projects. I want to do it for me, not for other people.
What is it about surfing that makes it so appealing to a photographer?
I think it’s because I surf so I just want to share the feeling. I see the waves and I see the people surfing, I’m super stoked! Sometimes I am shooting and I am thinking that I should leave my camera right here and go surf instead, but I need to tell myself that I can surf any other days and that today is about photography.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned so far because of photography?
I think photography taught me how to connect with people. It’s always harder at the beginning, but I’m trying to connect with the subject before taking photos.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
This is hard, it’s so far! I could see myself with a surfing family, going here and there. Running our own business with a kid.