Dolphins and surfers share a surprisingly common lifestyle, making us wonder if we’re distant cousins separated at sea. Both are undeniably cool, effortlessly riding waves with a grace that makes mere mortals envious. Dolphins, with their built-in wetsuits and natural surfboards with the best-tech fins, show off their flips and spins, while surfers, clad in neoprene, attempt to mimic these aquatic acrobats with varying degrees of success. Social creatures by nature, they both thrive in groups; dolphins in pods, surfers in crews, both gossiping about the best waves and secret spots. Truly, the only thing separating them is a couple of evolutionary choices; otherwise, they’re just two peas in a salty, oceanic pod.
One girl knows both species well… very well. Francesca Soster has made a career out of researching our aquatic cousins, and now she’s been pointing her lenses at us, as we glide on waves. We thought it would be fun for us to flip the lens, focusing on the woman behind the camera. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Sosty.
“Although dolphins are my favourite people in the world, I can definitely say surfers have become my favourite subjects in photography,” she begins, her passion for the ocean bursting through her words. This statement sets the tone for a conversation that reveals a skilled photographer and an individual deeply connected to the marine world, both intelligent and creative in her pursuit. Fran loves to characterise dolphins and marine life, highlighting her deep connection and understanding of their world.
Meditation through the lens
Francesca’s entry into surf photography was serendipitous, sparked by her admiration for surfers and the ocean. “I love the ocean and admire the way surfers live with and for the sea. It turned out to be a kind of meditative experience, as well as a challenge, to capture the perfect moment,” she explains, highlighting the blend of admiration and personal growth she experiences behind the lens.
When asked about her favourite marine animal, Fran’s laughter precedes the affectionate disclosure, “The orca/killer whale is my favourite animal… and it is also the biggest dolphin on earth!” This nugget of knowledge underscores her expertise and love for the marine environment she’s so intimately connected with. See, readers, every day is a school day!
Fran’s dream shot
Dreams fuel creativity, and her ultimate photographic aspiration is as captivating as her subjects: “Surfers and dolphins together.. at sunset.” This vision combines her past and present passions, symbolizing a harmonious blend of the marine and surfing worlds, captured in the golden glow of the setting sun. It’s probably an obvious answer given her love for both worlds… and we can’t wait to see her pull that off! Can we all do a dolphin dance to invite them to surf at Riviera?
The transition from marine to surf photography may have been accidental, but it was no less transformative. “One day at Ghajn Tuffieha, I was enjoying watching these guys ride the waves at sunset, and I thought I would love to catch their movements on my camera,” she recalls. This impulse marked the beginning of a new chapter, allowing her to harness her skills with fast-moving subjects and express her creativity more freely. “Switching to surf photography gives me the opportunity to practice my skills with fast-moving subjects, but it also allows me to express my creativity by experimenting with settings and editing to convey the vibe I have in mind,” she elaborates.
Looking ahead, she’s eager to expand her portfolio and continue her journey of learning and exploration. “I’d love to add some cool waves and water photography to my portfolio and I want to keep learning as much as I can,” she states, reflecting her commitment to growth and exploration in her craft. Good for us, really! Her skill is a treat for our eyes afterall.
Local inspiration and an nod to yesteryear
Inspiration is a key element of creativity, and for her, it comes from fellow photographers like Xavier Nageira (Xavi), renowned for his “glassy waves, beautifully captured directly in the sea.” This admiration for peers underscores the community and shared passion within the world of photography. Xav was the first photographer interviewed for Bomba Surf Magazine, and the fact that his name still echoes in this newer surf generation speaks volumes about the sheer beauty in his work.
As is common, Fran’s photographic style is a work in progress, aiming for “sharp, clear, and detailed photos, with vibrant colours and a good contrast between the surfer and their surroundings.” This approach demonstrates her dedication to capturing the essence of the surfing experience in every shot.
Embracing spontaneity, she views her journey into surf photography as “the happiest accident.” This laid-back approach, she believes, allows her to “fully enjoy the process with no pressure—keeping it easy and chill.” This philosophy not only shapes her work but also reflects the surfer lifestyle she so admires.
Indeed, happiness is a recurrent theme in her work, driven by a genuine love for her subjects and the joy of sharing their achievements through her lens. “Yes, extremely happy! There are several reasons for that: I genuinely love the people I snap, seeing their joy as they catch waves, and cheering for them when they ride,” she shares, highlighting the emotional rewards of her photography.
A piece of equipment she can’t live without is a “soft microfiber cloth to clean the lens from the salt,” a simple yet essential tool in her kit, reminding us of the practical challenges of surf photography.
Her favourite subject, Braydon Grima, exemplifies the connection she seeks with surfers, noting his “smooth moves, with a perfect hairstyle” and how it adds to the overall flair of her photos.
Choosing a favourite photo is challenging, but she mentions two that capture the essence of her work: one of Nene Matsumoto “smoothly flying over a wave on her board,” and another featuring Sky Howes “at sunset during the last heat of the Reef Rampage.” These selections highlight her ability to capture grace, energy, and the magical interplay of light and water.
The impact of surfing on Fran
Surfing has had a profound impact on her life, offering a respite during her thesis writing and now, a source of joy and peace. “Being there literally clears my mind and brings me peace,” she reflects, emphasizing the therapeutic aspect of her art.
Her improvements have been clear since that happy accident on day 1 and we can see a two-way relationship unfolding. As Fran curates her art, surfing also lends a positive aspect to her life. It’s a win-win situation. Both therapeutic and creative and being a relatively new hobby and subject for Fran, we’re excited about what’s coming. All the surfers love her shots, sharing them immediately on social media, and the community as a whole is grateful to her, and other photographers, videographers and creatives that document this beautiful sport.
Fran, from BOMBA, thank you – thanks for showing us pods of dolphins, and our awesome surfers. Thanks for finding joy in the little moments of life… it’s what it’s all about!
Make sure you follow Fran’s journey on Insta and show her some love and if you wanna support her journey, buy her a coffee!