Last week we had the privilege to shoot and interview one of our favorite surf photographers Tim Mendez. Here's what he had to say.
Hometown: Riverside, Ca.
DS: What is your current state of mind before we start this interview?
TM: Pretty mellow for the most part.
DS: Did you study photography?
TM: I did, yeah. Got my A.A. in Photography & then my B.A. in Marketing from Long Beach State. Weird thing is that I finished my photo degree right when negative film was on the way out so I pretty much learned a lot of stuff that isn’t all that applicable in today’s digital age, still really rad to learn though!
DS: How long have you been shooting photographs?
TM: I got my first camera in high school & started shooting around 17. So 14 years…damn that’s crazy. I’m old.
DS: What initially got you excited about taking photographs? How did you get started?
TM: I’ve always been really stoked on photojournalism and art. Since I’m not a great artist, photography was the next logical step. The excitement mostly came from just capturing friends, stuff around me, skateboarding. Shooting that type of stuff on film and waiting for the results kinda got me hooked.
DS: How would you describe your style?
TM: I’d say minimalist and moody. At least that’s the work that really influences me. Stuff that’s simple and has interesting composition.
DS: What is your favorite photography accessory other than your camera?
TM: Probably my water housing. Since I’m a surfer, I really like being in the ocean, surrounded by that energy. Adding a camera into that mix is a whole different challenge and I’ve really been enjoying that lately.
DS: Where do you find inspiration to continue shooting?
TM: The ocean & surfing always gets me inspired, other creative people and their work, music, art. A lot of the inspiration comes from getting better at what I do too. I feel like I’m constantly learning and improving, that process is super rewarding and keeps me fired up.
DS: What do you think about the photography industry right now and where do you see it in 5 years?
TM: I think because of the nature of technology, In 5 years we’ll probably be able to shoot anything from our phones haha. That aside, I think the photography industry is in a cool place , because it almost doesn’t matter how gnarly the tech side gets, there is still a core group of people that are using old film cameras and experimenting with different mediums. I think the minimal barrier of entry is a good thing, people who wouldn’t consider themselves artist in the traditional sense can make really cool stuff. I think that’s rad.
DS: Who is the first photographer that comes to your mind and why?
TM: Ron Stoner. His work pretty much defined the 1960’s surf culture in California. His style is so recognizable and simple, vibrant and timeless. Plus he was a real enigmatic character and I find that part of him intriguing too.
DS: What talent would you most like to have?
TM: I wish I could draw better… that and I wish I had more of a knack for music. I’ve tried on and off for the last 10 years to pick up guitar but for some reason absolutely suck at it.
DS: What is something you are still learning?
TM: I feel like I’m always learning how to better define my work, like I’m just learning how to consistently create photos that are unique and have their own style. To me photography is like skateboarding or surfing, where just when you think you’re getting really good it humbles you and you realize how much more work you still have to put in. After 14 years I still feel like I have a long way to go to feel satisfied with my work.
DS: Currently listening to?
TM: I’ve actually been listening to a lot of Bowie lately. That dude just made so much amazing music over his life, it’s unreal. R.I.P.
Here is a taste of some of Tim's incredible work.