Interview w/ Ana Catarina

5 December, 2023 | Interview

Hey Ana, how are you? Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Let’s start with the basics. Can you tell us who you are and where you’re from? 

My name is Ana Catarina, I’m 41 years old and I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  

What does a typical day in the life of Ana look like? 

If I’m in Rio de Janeiro, I love to wake up at 5am, have a black coffee, go to the beach and shoot a surf session with friends. I drive back home, arrive around 11am, have my late breakfast, work on the photos I’ve done and send them to the people I shot. 

I like to go to the gym and study in the afternoons. I’m always reading content about photography or videography to improve my career, and I also always have something to deliver or work to complete (like updating my website or developing some projects and new ideas). 

At night, a nice sushi meal at home and a good film can finish my day well!

Sounds pretty alright to us! How did you get into photography (and water photography, specifically)?

I started studying photography in 2008 as I wanted to take better pictures while I was on vacation and learn more about my camera. 

I fell in love with the camera and the act of putting my intentions in it. So, my favourite disciplines in photography at this time were documentary-based and photojournalism. 

In 2013, I found out about a surf photography workshop with Sebastian Rojas–a very respected brazilian photographer. Upon meeting Sebá he told me, “Ana, there aren’t any women doing this in Brazil”!

I got so excited about this that since then I’ve dedicated myself to surf photography. I like to tell people that I didn’t surf, I didn’t know any surfers and literally came from zero in the surf industry!

What prompted you to switch careers from civil servant to photographer? How did it feel giving up job security to pursue a creative endeavour?

I worked for 12 years in a government company and photography started as a hobby. It was an escape from my routine, so every day very early in the morning I would go to the beach to shoot. No pressure, no money, no clients. 

I could work on my creativity, on my confidence and understand more how photography was growing on me. I was so passionate about photography that in 2018, my job ceased to fit within my life. I didn’t admire that version of myself and I really wanted to try photography as a career. 

At that moment, I had projects to work on and I could see myself outdoors, not indoors in an office, so I quit. I don’t regret this decision… not even during the pandemic years.

Photography fulfils me 100%.

We can really feel that passion. So awesome! We also read that for you, photography is a way of documenting the stories of the people and places you visit. Has that always been the case or is your philosophy around photography always changing?

My interests change a lot but this is part of my thoughts since the beginning. 

Spreading the message I learn through photography and people’s stories is what I love doing, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a professional surfer or not. Every story is interesting! 

I think I’m always looking for a new challenge in my photography life. 

If you could sum up your photography style in one sentence, what would you say? 

Work hard, be gentle, dream big!

Words to live by. You’re a positive voice for female photographers. How has the landscape changed for females getting into photography since you first began shooting? 

I think the whole world has changed and women are becoming more confident about where they wanna be. 

The same happened in surf photography and we’ve been seeing more women in the water. 

Now, about your upcoming Xanadu retreat. Are you as excited as we are? Have you done something like this before?

I’m counting down to be in Xanadu and to have the pleasure of sharing what I know and what I love in this paradise! 

I’ve been doing workshops since 2016, and I guess this’ll be my 18th group! It’s so amazing to see people interested in surf photography and wanting to know more about it, and in a cool place like Xanadu with this crew, it’s even more exciting!

Can you give our guests an insight into what you plan on teaching? 

So, sharing surf photography techniques is really fun. We’ll introduce the specific equipment, explore photography basics, get to understand water characteristics and learn how to take care of camera equipment. 

We’ll talk a lot about creativity, storytelling, the business side and how to make the most of your photography! We’ll have two surfers acting as our models, so you’ll have the opportunity to shoot surfers of a very high level of performance while trying different camera setups and lenses. You’ll essentially be using my and Tommy’s cameras–the same ones we use during our working days. 

Also, you’ll be able to shoot for a brand as if you are working for them. These exercises are amazing for improving your creativity but without the pressure of delivering the content to a client. 

You just mentioned Tommy. Tommy is a highly respected photographer and you guys are teaming up for our retreat. How do you know each other? Have you collaborated together previously?

We already followed each other on Instagram for a long time, but we only first met in 2021 when we were both invited to SurfCity El Salvador to shoot the country and share our perspective of El Salvador through surfing. 

These photos will eventually become a book for the president of El Salvador, and we had so much fun together both there and afterwards, as we kept meeting in Hawaii, Mexico and California. 

I admire Tommy so much and it’s so amazing to see how professional he is and how his photography improves more and more each time I see him.

We can’t wait to hang with both of you. Tell us, what are you most looking forward to sharing with attendees? 

That photography is an important way of self-knowledge and a tool to make a better world. 

We have so many beautiful messages to spread through photography and it doesn’t matter if it’s just a hobby or you’re shooting professionally. It’s a way of having empathy and a passport to many beautiful stories.

And what’s one thing you would like for people to walk away with after your retreat?

To have an open mind about the endless possibilities in photography! 

There’s always room for your creativity and disposition… that’s the most important! It’s about you and not about comparing yourself with others.

What about memorable photo shoots? Is there a person or place that stands out? 

Maya Gabeira, absolutely! In Nazare or Mentawais… no matter where. 

Do you have any advice for water photographers or any photographers in general who are just starting out? 

Don’t compare yourself with others! 

Our photography is made of us, our own experiences, our own way of living. From the books we read to the people we connect with and our journey. That’s why it’s so special! 

We could be side by side in the ocean with the same equipment and same setups and I guarantee you that our photos would be completely different. That’s amazing!

Now for some fun questions! What’s the best live music act you’ve seen? 

Alceu Valença… a Brazilian singer that I love!!!

Your favourite book and why? 

Yvon Chouinard’s “Let My People Go Surfing”. Yvon is Patagonia’s founder and in his book he talks about his mindset, his lifestyle and how he’s loyal to this through his company. It’s a life changing book!

We love that book too! What about your fav food? 

Poisson cru and poke! I love raw fish. It reminds me of Polynesia and Hawaii–great moments in these places.

And the number one country you HAVEN’T visited but would love to?


Who would you like to play you in a movie and why? 

Ahahahahaha… Sandra Bullock! It would be fun. I loved her when I was younger!

Last but not least–where can people go to find out more about you and your work?

Instagram is an amazing tool for approaching people but the best way to see me is with my site! It’s still important to have a website as a photographer!

Amazing, thanks Ana. Can’t wait to catch up!

Check More