Ivana Bajic is the author of "Nature of Surf Women," a gorgeous, immersive, and interactive limited edition book that inspires and motivates people into waves. This is her story.
I was 37 when I started to surf.
I was always into extreme sports, and I love adventures - diving with sharks, climbing the first base of Mount Everest - but I didn't have a chase to fall in love with surfing until I reached Costa Rica.
Nosara belongs to one of the five Blue Zones in the world, and it's a perfect place for beginners and intermediate surfers to enjoy wild beaches and learn from excellent instructors.
Many of them are female instructors.
The local people are very friendly, the domestic food is beyond delicious, and still, you have French bakery, Asian, Italian, and Israeli cuisine, a wine bar, e-bikes, and all types of yoga.
So yes, I got hooked immediately.
No other sport or activity can give you such pleasure and high as the feeling you can get when you ride that perfect wave.
What is magical and almost unique for Nosara is that the female community of surfers is so strong and supportive.
You feel at home. They cheer you up, they give you a wave, and you can make authentic friendships.
I am so in love in this little town off the paved road, with this incredible mix of people from all over the world.
What is truly impressive is that many of these women had great careers and hectic lives, but they decided to change the concrete jungle to a real jungle and start their days in the ocean.
I was inspired by what I personally received from surfing and how it changed my life - spending more time in nature, taking care of my diet, being more environmentally friendly, and teaching my daughter to tune in with nature.
Being a surfer, you get that special freedom to be happy and shine from the inside out without makeup or fancy clothes.
You can see that these women are comfortable in their bodies and the ocean.
With a foundation in film and immersive production, I utilized my skills to craft a unique art book.
It intertwines photography, the soothing echoes of nature, and genuine narratives, delivering a distinctive experience of participating in the women's surfing community.
A Multidisciplinary Team
I found Gabriela Téllez in France. She is originally from Costa Rica and specializes in documentary photography.
I conveyed to her my aspiration to perceive female surfers through a non-traditional lens and dismantle the usual stereotypes attached to standard surf photography.
I recorded interviews with surfers, and on that journey, some of them decided to sing their autobiographical songs for our book!
The final step was creating the atmosphere around visual stories.
I was introduced to Martyn Stewart, a famous naturalist, and founder of The Listening Planet.
Together we colored the audio stories of surfers with sounds of the waves, birds singing, and wood cracking during the walk through the jungle.
Holly Beck wrote the foreword of the book, and the epilog is dedicated to problems of pollution, overbuilding, and beach access in small beach towns.
"Nature of Surf Women" offers an interactive experience that riders can use as motivation or guidance.
There were a lot of challenges in making the book.
None of these girls is a professional model, and we did a lot of closeups of the wrinkles, scars, and marks.
Also, Mother Nature is always unpredictable - the swell, the tide, sudden rain, and getting lost in search of the most remote surf beaches, but making this book was the best experience we had as a team.
We have shot 30 women for the book from 15+ different nations, all body shapes and colors of skin, and ages from 12-67 years old.
We cooked together, went out to dance, and surfed together.
Surfing Brings Women Together
This project brought a lot of love and strong bonding among women not only in Nosara but all over the world.
Women who bought the book wanted to connect with some of the surfers; some decided to visit Nosara.
Our goal is to inspire women to trust their bodies, challenge themselves with new adventures and hobbies, take time for themselves, and might grab a board and go surf.
On the other hand, lack of self-confidence, body shame, or fear of surfing in older age stops many women from getting into the water.
This is why it is so important to share - how other women dealt with their fears of deep water or sharks, fought cancer, or learned to surf in their 50s, where you can find surf clubs for women, what surf therapy is, how to join a mother's surf community.
With a goal to share and educate, "Nature of Surf Women" started organizing interactive events focusing on surf therapy, ocean preservation, surf filmmakers, and surf organizations such as Join Surfing Moms, Groundswell Community Project, etc.
You can see our upcoming events on Instagram (@nature_of_surf_women) or join our newsletter via natureofsurfwomen.com.
It's such a wonderful feeling to have support from other women, spend time in the water, feel safe, share the stoke of a good wave, and have fun.
Words by Ivana Bajic | Surfer and Author