Adrien Ballanger is a freelance graphic designer, photographer and co-founder of Salty Paper, who works with GreenFix, Laboratoire de Biarritz and FFSurf among other clients. Adrien told us about building his photography career around passion for surfing and finding inspiration in the beautiful nature of the Basque Country, where he is currently residing.
How did you get to where you are right now?
Because of skateboarding. I grew up in Vendée in western France, a beautiful place with beaches and sand dunes. There wasn’t much to do there, except surfing and skateboarding, so when I was 13 my friends and I decided to start skateboarding in a club. After severals months we had a great progress and often left home to explore the city for skateboarding spots. Sometimes we would skate in private areas and we knew we probably couldn't get there twice. So I decided to start photographing us doing all these things, just for the sake of memories. Finally I started carrying my camera everywhere as well as my skateboard. At the beginning I was just looking for great skateboarding pictures but eventually I started looking for spots around the city and in the nature around the city. A year later I took up surfing so I would make pictures of it too. It was a different way to see photography because of the distance between a surfer and a photographer, it was such a cool experiences too, that taught me a lot. After three years at the graphic design school I needed to travel, so I visited friends in Europe, Deutschland, Norway, Denmark and then I finally arrived in the Basque Country for surfing, mountains and sun! I am super curious, so I really want to climb all the mountains that surround me. So what I’m doing now is trying to discover and photograph all the intriguing things around me.
Was there anyone who mentored or influenced you?
I can't say there was a mentor who taught me how to shoot. I learnt technical stuff by myself, reading photography magazines at the beginning. I am fortunate to have really good friends who are photographers, so in a way these guys are my mentors. Seeing their work I learnt to make the right compositions and now I can capture things around me so much better.
Have you ever taken risks to move forward?
Yes, when I arrived in the Basque Country I was working as an editor for an independent surfing magazine «Sorry Mom» that my friends and I had started, the goal was to make money doing this work but proved to be harder than we’d expected, so we hat to quit on the idea. Now my friends and I have created our graphic design studio named “Salty Paper”, where we work with some awesome people. So the surfing magazine was a great experience that made me move forward.
Are your family and friends supportive of what you do?
Friends and family are supportive ! They always push me forward by their comments and the most precious things about them is the critical side, by this they help me evolve in my work.
Where’s home and how living there influences you?
I live in the Basque Country. When I was a child my parents and I came here a lot and I fell in love with this country. Where I was born we have no mountains and rocks don't fall straight in the ocean, but here in the Basque Country all landscapes are spectacular and different. I think it's what influences me the most - the diversity of landscapes in Basque Country.
Do you have a routine ?
Nope ! I hate routine. Nietzsche said « Convictions are prisons»
How would you describe your style?
Frankly speaking it’s a pretty common «Outdoor style », but if you take a look on my Instagram you'll see I try to change it by making darker images.
What gives you ideas and inspires you?
The Art ! I read a lot and I always have like 3 books to read at the same time. Novels, magazines or illustrated books, but I prefer novels because when you can't see images, you have to create them in your mind.
What do you see yourself doing in a few years?
I hope to continue doing free-lance graphic design, travel around the world and making photos and videos. And I hope to become good enough to try portrait photography.
For more photography by Adrien Ballanger, visit his Instagram: