Photographer’s Search Never Ends

Photographer Agustin Muñoz is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina where he first learned about cameras and how to use them from his father. Pursuing a dual passion for the ocean and photography, the charismatic Muñoz landed in Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica in 2001. It has been his home ever since and his favorite surf spot. Hustling with a surplus of energy and talent from the ground up, he earned respect within the surf industry as one of the first surf photographers. He is considered by many to be the best. 

Agustin’s talent has transported him all over the globe, working for Red Bull, Rip Curl, Volcom and Adidas, among others. Catching the eye of Fujifilm, he gained the company’s sponsorship and is able to work with the best gear for the craft that drives his biggest passion, Extreme Sports. He has been called a drone wizard and conversely loves shooting from inside the ocean which at times has put him in dangerous positions. It feeds his adrenaline. Constantly seeking out new trends and the best photographers in the world, Agustin Muñoz is on a constant search to improve his own level of mastery. 

The following are highlights of my interview with Muñoz the third week of May.

On surviving the pandemic

What has been the greatest challenge for you the last two months with the national and international restrictions on sports?

The greatest challenge for me with the lockdown was staying at home. I’m a very hyper person. I like to shoot at night. Night photography and long exposure photography, going when I feel like I want to go. To be limited with driving because of the driving and plates restrictions … the whole deal, it’s been stressful for me.

How have you stayed motivated at home?

These two months I’ve been cutting pallets, making tables for growing lettuce, carrots and vegetables. I made a pretty nice garden and made my own compost. I feel like I did something tangible, something that I can touch and see. 

I have done some stock photography for Gidden images and Westend61 imagery, European and U.S. stock companies. Photos and video, actually. My profile is on both of them.

Playa Hermosa 

Why is Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica so exciting for you to shoot, from inside the water?

I like Hermosa because it’s consistent all year. In the winter it gets pretty heavy. It affects all the different directions of swell. So it works in Terrazas with west, the tree south, all the way to Tulin there’s waves. Beside Terrazas, most of the places don’t get crowded. As a photographer I like that because I can pick a surfer, go to a place and be by myself. 

When I used to run Siete Mars magazine, there were so many photographers on the beach shooting. I wanted to get the images first unseen in the magazine but sometimes they’d burn them on social media before I could do that. Besides, a water shot is a water shot. In Hermosa, I can always get a surfer to work with somewhere hidden. There are options.

Is there a particular surfer you prefer to shoot and why?

One of my favorite surfers to work with always is Jair Perez. He’s very flexible, he surfs small or big waves, big barrels. He’s very adaptable to any conditions, rights or lefts. 

Also, Nicholas Fischer. When I get new gear, new lenses, new housing I test everything in the water with Nico before I use it for any jobs.

‘The wave is coming for miles and miles and at the end when it bends and it’s going to finish, I get it. I just froze that moment. Every wave is unique; that’s one of the things I admire most about the sport of surfing.’
— Agustin Muñoz

Beach Reopening

How did you spend the first morning of the reopening of the beaches? 

For the opening of the beaches, I wanted to shoot from the water but I could only watch. Someone actually stole my fins. I went to the beach to take a look. Since I longboard, it’s not very safe to take that on the bike and I couldn’t use my car. Something that annoys me is that people can bike, run or go to the gym without time limitations pretty much all day. We [surfers] have time limitations. That day low tide was at 6 a.m. Probably at 8 a.m. it was going to start getting beautiful just as everyone needed to leave the water. At least for me, that is even worse than not going at all.

Shooting with Dixiana 

What is it like to shoot an event with Dixiana? How do you guys complement each other? 

With Dixie since the beginning it’s been very fun. She started learning how to shoot surfing at Bowies [Bowies Point in Hermosa]. She doesn’t surf, so part of the process was teaching her the maneuvers. 

Now she isn’t shooting surfing. She enjoys shooting weddings, fashion, swimwear, stuff like that. I stress out when I have to shoot a wedding. I get less stressed watching someone jumping from a plane than shooting a wedding. (Laughs.) 

We complement each other. For Red Bull events, social events I like to take her because she’s funny, she’s tiny and people like to see her. It’s nice to see her in action. She likes to get close-up shots while I go for the natural, casual shots.

The Search Never Ends 

Can you share some ways you have grown this past year, personally and professionally, that would inspire others?

Dropping my ego as much as I can to the bottom. The moment I believe I’m better than others or good enough, I won’t keep searching in life and in photography. I’m always searching. The search never ends for me. Learning about life, myself and society. The last eight years I’ve been travelling all over the world working. I’ve seen so many cultures and behaviors of societies and different ways to deal with life. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older, but now somehow I’m processing all of that information. 

The search never ends. There is always something new to learn.

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Photo Credit : Agustin Muñoz