César Ancelle-Hansen is a talented French surfer/photographer. Currently residing in his dream location Côte des Basques, César documents a life of surfing and a lifestyle that’s close to the ocean. We spoke with César to learn more.
What was it like growing up in France?
I grew up in the north of France, very far away from the “beach culture.” For me, it was more going to the pub, martial arts and videogames. I’m lucky as I grew up in a lovely and open-minded family. My mother traveled a lot for her work, so I was often part of her luggage. At the age of 15, I went to Corsica and had my “revelation”. I took my first wave on a bodyboard and I knew the deep inside of me that I would always live next to the waves.
What was the feeling you had when you you first stood on a surfboard?
PRIDE. It was at Hossegor at 22 years of age. After 7 years riding a bodyboard, I took surf lessons, and after 2 days I did my first “take off”, there I was: I was surfing.
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a young man?
Bruce Lee. I am a big fan of the martial arts. I did some karate, kung fu and taekwondo between 10 and 18 years old. I do find many similar things between surfing and martial arts. Things like moves and stances.
What inspired you to begin shooting images?
My mother was an art director. She subscribed to Life, Photo, National Geographic, Grands Reportages. I grew up between those wonderful pages.
What do you look for in a good photograph?
A good balance of light, movement, framing, and soul. A not so easy task, even with a good camera.
What advice would you give to an aspiring photographer?
First, learn the basics. Then practice, practice, practice. Trust yourself and shoot what you want, don’t listen to people (except concerning the basics)
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
New York City because of its crazy energy and all the people who contribute to it. On the other hand, this city can be a nightmare to shoot – to many things to see and capture. Last time I was there I was disappointed by my photographs.
Who/what inspires you?
Today, thanks to the Internet, I discover a new artist that inspires me nearly everyday! But for me Thomas Campbell is the original “firestarter”
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
I work in E.R unit so I learned first hand that LIFE IS TOO SHORT.
Do you have any regrets or wish you had done something differently?
Yesterday, I lost a tombolla (lottery) ticket: I am sure it was a winning one! (Laughs) Seriously, I did a lot of mistakes when I was young, but I’m sure I learned from them. I don’t live in the past, I always look for tomorrow.
What are you most proud of?
When we decided to live our dream. My wife and I could have stayed in north of France. Instead, we left friends and family to realize our dream: to live next to ocean. It hasn’t been easy… but we succeeded! It has been 10 years now and we live with our 2 kids near the Côte des Basques. I am teaching my 3 year old son how to surf. For them it is a normal life, but for us it’s a chance and we made it. I think about our fortune almost everyday.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
Without surfing, or I should rather say without the ocean, I think I’d become a crazy person. It brings me energy, oxygen, and the feeling of freedom. It allows me to escape from a bad day. Staring at the ocean gives me strengh and a sensation that nothing is impossible. Psychologists call it “le sentiment oceanique” (I don’t know how to say it in English). Surfing multiplies this feeling.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
The Warm light of a late afternoon on the beach with friends, family and waves. A small surf session with my son and then a longer one with my friends as we talk, laugh, and know that fresh beers are waiting for us on the beach.
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
All of the young men, women and kids in the water.
What is in your current quiver? What is your favorite board? Your favorite surfspot?
6’6 tri fin Maurice Cole T Rex, 5’11 Quatro Plastic Machine surfboard, 6’10 single fin Minvielle surfboards, 9′ Hap Jacobs Classic, 9′ Takayama Noserider. My favorite board was a 6’6 Hobie Minibird : incredible board! My favorite surfspot is Côte des Basques – it’s a 5 minute by walk from home.
What’s your favorite meal?
A good breakfast, definitely! A huge mug of coffee, fresh fruits, and of course, a french baguette.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
Cumbia Sobre El Mar’ by Quantic, ‘I need a Dollar’ by Aloe Blacc, ‘Voices’ by Blundetto/Hindi Zahra
What are you most grateful for?
Being in a good health.
What’s next for César Ancelle-Hansen?
More and more pictures, surfing, traveling, and following my family and friends.
To learn more about César Ancelle-Hansen, visit his website here.