Salted Soul

It's been a few months since we last published a Focus.

Many superb films were released, we organized tours and beautiful screenings, you were there... and we went surfing.


In the Focus we did on him, Greg Puget underlined the fact that Africa was rich in terms of surfing and that it was more than necessary to discover its potential.

Since then, magazines and brands have started to put forward African surfers.

At last!

On our side, we will soon set up a tour for the film AFRICAN TERRITORY by the Azulay brothers.

This feature film, released this year, received the "best film" award at the Anglet International Surf Film Festival and at the Portuguese Surf Film Festival in Ericeira.


For this new Focus, we wanted to ask questions to the South African photographer and videographer, originally from Cape Town, Alan Van Gysen.


After having started with articles in the local magazine Zigzag, he is now, at 37 years old, a world famous photographer and videographer.

His photos regularly feature in the best international surf magazines.

The movie scene in SLOW DANCE in which Craig Anderson surfs a strong Skeleton Bay in 2012, it was him.

One of the best sequences of the movie STRANGE RUMBLINGS IN SHANGRI LA, shot in Mozambique, him too!


He is now the man to call when the pros come to South Africa.

He was very available and we thank him warmly for having accepted to answer our questions.

See you soon at the cinema!

Photo Kim Bouchier

- Hi Alan,

where are you from and do you remember your first feeling in waves ?


"I am from a little surf village at the bottom of Africa called Kommetjie.

It’s the second last community in the deep south of Cape Town, South Africa where the tip of Africa meets the mighty Atlantic Ocean.


My first experience of the beach was the worst experience of my life.

I was two years old, and unfortunately at my young age, the worst height a person can be in gale-force winds on a sandy beach.

Even if it’s the best beach break in Africa.

The sand blows so hard offshore it feels like it could strip paint of any surface.

Now imagine the soft skin and eyes of a little child!

Not pleasant.


Many years later though, the same beach and surf environment would become one of my favourite places in the world to surf and photograph.

See below photograph titled Dunes…"

Photo Alan Van Gysen

If you’re passionate about something and believe it’s your calling you keep at it, learning from your mistakes and ask questions and learn from those ahead of you.

Photo Alan Van Gysen

- At what age did you start filming and photographing surfing ?


"I started photographing at age 17 while still in high school in 1997.

I think what really got me into surf photography was the combination of my sporting and creative abilities and interests passed down to me from my parents - swimming, waterpolo, music art etc.


That, and my love for the ocean, sea and waves through surf lifesaving every weekend at my local beach growing up as a grom or nipper. "

Photo Alan Van Gysen

- How did you learn to take footage and what are your favourite conditions ?


"I’m a self-taught professional photojournalist and cinematographer.

It’s taken 20 plus years.

If you’re passionate about something and believe it’s your calling you keep at it, learning from your mistakes and ask questions and learn from those ahead of you.

You’re never too old or experienced to learn, and I think you need a healthy dose of humility to take advice and positive criticism from others.


Looking back I think I learnt what I now know today from just putting in the time and learning from my environment and the opportunities given to me.

If an opportunity presents itself, open the door and embrace it.

Be present and immerse yourself.


My favourite conditions to create good images are beautiful surroundings, crips and interesting light and talented athletes who want to create something special too. "

- What is your Surf Culture ?


"Surf Culture to me is family and community inspired and focused.

If we’re able to do it and enjoy it together, that's surf culture.


My kids and the youth inspire me."

My favourite surf films have always been ones which incorporate good surfing, travel, beautiful cinematography and people.

Photo Alan Van Gysen

- What are your 3 favourite surf movies ?


"My favourite surf films have always been ones which incorporate good surfing, travel, beautiful cinematography and people.



- What are your songs to get water and your post session songs ?


"I have a fairly broad appreciation for music but I mostly listen to Christian music when at home in the office or on the road traveling.

I definitely gravitate toward beat and rhythm tracks before a surf - popular and unpopular music.


"Fight on, Fighter" by FOR KING & COUNTRY and "Whatever It Takes" by IMAGINE DRAGONS are some of my favourites right now before a surf.

Post surf might include more mellow tracks by artists like FOR KING & COUNTRY and JOSH BALDWIN."

Surf culture to me is family and community inspired and focused.

- Can you tell us more about NOW NOW Media?


"Now Now is a content and production team headed up by Will Bendix and I.

We collaborate with fellow creatives, organisations and brands to bring ocean-inspired media projects to life.


Based on the tip of the African continent, our name comes from the South African expression, “now now”.

Loosely translated, it means “soon” – as in, there's something exciting on the boil, coming soon!"

Photo Alan Van Gysen

- Which African surfers, photographers and filmmakers should we follow?


"Everyone has their own likes.

But for me...

If you don’t already, I would highly recommend you follow the following Africa surf personalities or organisations:







Photo Alan Van Gysen

- What are your actions for the planet ?


"My actions for the planet are to hopefully educate and make people aware of what we’re doing to our planet through the films we make and media we produce.

Individuals might not be able to change big corporate and governmental policies, but you can always change what you do yourself.


Everyone can do something. "


(Alan directed this year for Plastic Oceans International, a video on plastic pollution in Cameroon

- You just released a video on Reunion Island, why this place?


"We released the first of two films about Reunion Island.


The first is called La Jetée about surfing in St.Pierre which is considered to be one of the world best air waves.

The second is doing to be a bigger, more in-depth documentary about the state of sharks in Reunion Island and branching out to the state of sharks in surfing globally.

We went to Reunion Island mostly to document the work being done by researches, communities and government in Reunion Island after the shark crisis.

Keep a look out for this toward the end of 2022. "

Photo Alan Van Gysen

- Have you ever been to France ?


"We have not yet had the privilege to visit France, but we have a lot of good friends and surfers we work with.

Like William Aliotti and Maud le Car, and we have heard a lot of good things.

One day hopefully. "


Thanks Alan!

Published on Tuesday, November 1, 2022