Laurent Pujol on Staying Relevant in the Age of Instagram

Jason Lock

by on

Updated 190d ago

For years, Laurent Pujol has been at the forefront of surf cinematography, helping pioneer the follow cam footage that has been so iconic in our humble little community.

By now, you'll be well aware of follow cams – where a lensman shoots from behind a surfer in a heaving keg. And Mr Pujol's the master, father, creator of such angles, with the likes of Leroy Bellet, who recently captured a stunning shot of Michel Bourez via follow cam, drawing inspiration from him. And did you know Laurent's a former pro shredder?

Now, Mr Pujol's just dropped a showreel containing some of his finest works. But in a digital age of content-right-now, how does Laurent stay relevant? What challenges face the modern lesnman? We caught up to check in.

How’s everything going with the industry seemingly in a perpetual state of flux...
The surf industry is facing reconstruction at all levels. Not many retainers out there for photographers, pro surfers are getting laid off in their mid-twenty and people are loosing their jobs left and right.
Remember your follow cam of Bourez a few years back, it blew minds! What do you make of that shot from Leroy Bellet?
What Leroy is doing is great.  For the record it’s not called double-tow as I named it "follow-cam", 3-years before he saw my photos and did the same thing. The most complicated thing with the follow-cam was catching the wave with the subject and myself.

At first we tried with two skis and that did not work well...the skis almost collided and we were too far apart to get the shot. Until the day I realised both of us on one rope is the go.

We would let go and already be close together and ready to backdoor the barrel at the same time. That was the hardest thing to figure out with the follow cam. Would of kept the secret to myself if I could do it again and left people scratching their heads over it. 

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Followcam with the Tahitien Prince @bourezmichel

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Where do you draw inspiration from?
The 20-years of professional surfing has inspired me to shoot in the water. Staying up close and personal.

What’s your overall goal?
Stay in the ocean wether surfing or documenting. Raise my family...

What can photographers do to stay relevant in this I-want-it-now society?
Man it’s hard to make it today as a surf photographer. Must diversify for sure. A lot are shooting weddings and baby showers which is a bummer.

Do you think Instagram is helping or hindering the industry?
Definitely hindered the magazines but social media does have advantages. 1990’s and 2000’s... either you got good contest results or a big presence in the magazines to keep your sponsors happy. Today it’s all about how many followers you have on Instagram and how many views did your last clip get. Surfers would rather bring two cameramen and no photogs.

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@benjaminsanchis parking it.

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Talk us through your latest showreel, it’s stunning!
In cinematography you need to have a showreel to show clients who want to hire you your work. This one was shot entirely with a Red camera the past two years.

What’s next?
Hopefully get more commercial work and in the movie industry. Would be awesome if the surf industry takes off again and would be great to travel with the bros. Shoot some good surfing instead of abstract bubbles finding their way to the surface for a perfume commercial.