Stab Magazine | Photolyfe: William Zimmermann
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Photolyfe: William Zimmermann

Meet the self taught Brazilian lensman who developed a close bond with the late Ricardo dos Santos and a wonderful eye for exquisite surf moments.

style // Jul 3, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Welcome to PhotoLyfe, in which Stab’s favourite photographers answer questions about themselves with their own images. It’s that old picture-tells-a-thousand-words chestnut but with more colour and pop. It’s a way to cut out all the bullshit. It’s like jacking into the main vein of those who supply us with exquisite surf imagery every day. Give thanks by studying each image with a more careful eye than ever!

We’re back – apologies for the extended time between drinks. Reinvigorating our favourite Q&A gallery today is 34 year-old Brazilian lensman, William Zimmermann. Will’s tale is an interesting one, from the organic discovery of his passion, self teaching via YouTube videos, developing a close, mutually beneficial relationship with the late and great, Ricardo dos Santos, to building a career around doing what he loves.

We’ll let William take if from here. Take a moment to digest a little context (we insist), then slide down and enjoy the visual delights.

Until 15, my contact with salty water was just a couple days spent on my aunts beach house during summer,” Mr Zimmermann tells us.

“My first contact with surf came with school classmates, on the weekends we use to take the bus to the beach, camping for a night then return home on Sundays. All I could think on week days was surfing.

“At the age of 20 and poor money in my pocket, I moved to our beach house and started working on a local souvenir store at Guarda do Embaú, 5km from my new home and one of the best breaks in Brazil. The place where I met a grom who became my best friend, Ricardo dos Santos, who years later would win The Wave of the Winter and now rests in peace.

“Then one night at home I watched a Documentary called Fibreglass And Megapixels, that shows some of the best water photographers on the planet – I thought to myself that’s it!

“I had never had any contact with photography till that moment, had no friends who were photographers, no ideas about equipment prices, nothing! So photography didn’t come naturally to me, it came by the necessity to make my living from the ocean, surrounded by nature. I could spend more time at the beach, in the water, making new friends and learning something new, which is always exciting.

“I quit my job at the local store and bought my first camera, lens and a homemade water housing, went on my first water session and came back home with all my photos completely black. 

“So I went straight to the internet and started watching videos and interviews about any type of photography. I spent hundreds of hours studying and practicing and still have so much to learn.

“On my first year, thanks to my dude Ricardo, I got some pages spread on Fluir Magazine, one of the biggest mags in Brazil at the time, then he took me on a trip to Patagônia for The Surfer’s Journal Brazil, I was shaking due my lack of experience, but all went good in the end. Then we went to Argentina and Uruguay.

“I was so happy to where my photography was taking me, finally I could travel with my best mate, could see new places and new cultures, spending more time in the ocean, was getting money and having some cool feedbacks from people. I was doing something that I really love doing.

“When Ricardo passed away, and I was there to see his last breaths, I promised to myself that from that day I would do this for him and to go as hard as I could. It’s been five years since I decided to be a surfing photographer, thanks to friends and people that I’ve met through Ricardo.

“Photography took me to places that I always wanted to go as a surfer but couldn’t.”

1. Describe yourself.

Describe yourself Myself Mentawai Jungle Foto William Zimmermann

2. Where are you from?

Where are you from I first came from land now the ocean is my home Foto William Zimmermann

3. What got you into photography?

What got you into photography That feeling of liberty and seeking new waves with friends Patagonia Foto William Zimmermann

4. Where do you wish you were right now?

Where do you wish you were right now Definitely somewhere under the Mentawais Mentawai Foto William Zimmermann

5. What inspires you?

What inspires you Barrels are always a good source of inspiration Guarda do Embau Brazil Foto William Zimmermann

6. Who is your favourite person to photograph?

Who is your favourite person to photograph My buddy Marco Giorgi makes my work easier with his power surfing and style Brazil Foto William Zimmermann

7. What makes the best photograph?

What makes the best photograph For me lights are a big part of the result also some unpredictable elements like a water drop running your front housing too Guarda do Embau Brazil Foto William Zimmermann

8. What’s your favourite weapon?

Whats your favourite weapon The sun is always a good friend and weapon when shooting sunrises and sunsets Uruguai Foto William Zimmermann

9. Describe your mood right now?

Describe your mood right now So stoked Mega Artana Padang Padang Foto William Zimmermann

10. What else should we know about you?

What else should we know about you I surf too and duckdiving Guarda do Embau Foto William Zimmermann

You can follow the life, work and adventures of William on Instagram, right here.

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