This Is Me: Elisa Routa

In anticipation of her show at the upcoming Nollie Exhibition in Paris, we asked our former intern how she transformed herself into a shit-hot budding photographer

Interview by Anna Langer

The ocean is in constant movement. You never get used to its beauty.

Being surrounded by the ocean from a young age on helped me to understand that the ocean was part of my life and was a part of me. As a friend of mine, Leah Dawson, once said to me: “We ARE water, the human body contains 56% of water”. Her words remain in my head. I know it can sounds like a refrain you hear everyday, but the ocean simply makes me feel good. After my studies, I moved to Biarritz and there, it was obvious. I needed to work in relation with water and surfing.

I studied Arts & Humanities in Reading (UK) and then I studied at the London School of Journalism. The only way for me to capture my daily life was taking pictures. At that time, I only had my analoug camera, which always hung around my neck. I didn’t want to miss a thing. And I think, my love affair with photography started like that. At that time, I just wanted to give my interpretation of what I lived, I just wanted to come back home and show my life to my mother and brother! Haha! During those years, everything around me was a window to a new world, every person I met was a real stranger to me. It can sound strange because London is not so far away from France, but the people have a completely different way of life than we have. And I deeply love it. I literally fell in love with London, its euphoria, its sincerity, its simplicity mixed up with craziness. Photography helped me to keep memories of it, even though I lost most of my films! Since then, I always kept my analoug Zenith E with me.

I just wanted to give my interpretation of what I lived, I just wanted to come back home and show my life to my mother and brother!

To me the ocean is in constant movement. Everyday, you can see it differently. That’s a great quality. You never get used to its beauty. Surfing is a small part of it, but the part I love most. Seeing my friends in the water reminds me of how lucky I am to see that. They’re so talented that I can only take pictures of them. I’m not a good photographer, I just enjoy taking pictures of my friends. That’s all actually. I love giving my interpretation of surfing. Longboarding is smooth, as sweet as a cuddle. These come and go on the waves are full of sensuality, full of love. I love the poetry in there, that’s why I like to write poems to go with pictures in order to give a complete view of what I felt at this exact moment. Words and pictures are connected. Words express the details which are impossible to translate with a camera.

Longboarding is smooth, as sweet as a cuddle.

There was a night last year when I lived in a cute little doll house in Anglet (Biarritz) and couldn’t sleep. I don’t know why. But suddenly this idea of the “âne à log” suddenly came up. It began with a game on words, ‘a-na-log/ âne à log” and from there the whole story developed, that is the theme of my show at the Nollie Exhibition. Here in the south west of France, we’re invaded by the surf industry, I don’t blame them, I’m part of it, but there’s some sides I don’t support. I sometimes have the impression that we have to display the brands on our clothes to be taken seriously. We have to show what we do in order to see who we are. I don’t like being described like the girl who does this or that, the girl who wears a cool t-shirt and a fancy pair of jeans. Actually, I don’t care. Anonymity is genius. If I could, I would be invisible. With the “âne à log” project I wanted to show that without clothes, we’re all the same. Naked, we’re all the same. And everyone has to be taken seriously. Everyone is special.

I understand that a professional skateboarders need promotion to be seen, to earn money, to get sponsors and to make a living. That’s life, that’s how it works. Individual promotion is good and essential. I do that, we all do that. But what strikes me is how far some people can go in order to be seen, how they can play a role, how they can be someone else just to be known, famous, or just “liked” on Facebook.

With the “âne à log” project I wanted to show that without clothes, we’re all the same. Naked, we’re all the same. And everyone has to be taken seriously.

I love cruisers! A friend of mine creates handmade skateboards called Foot Loose. I did a collaboration with her for the Nollie Exhibition. She used some of my pictures for creating a brand new skateboard. This brand is amazing, built in France, with wood of local forests. These skateboards are smooth, I love the fluidity of them. I was recently on trip with my camper van and I brought some Foot Loose Skateboards with me. I had so much fun cruising on the roads!

If I’ll still skateboard in 15 years? I don’t know. Actually, I don’t skate well! I just enjoy it, I just love doing curves, moving my body from left to right, feeling the wind, that’s all. So, probably, in 15 years, I’ll still be skateboarding like I do today, softly…

But you can NEVER be too old to skate! Skateboarding is eternal, this is like surfing on earth. The more you grow old, the more you learn, the more you enjoy. Skateboarding is made for everyone. And I’m sure it will become the more used means of transport when petrol will be too expensive! Having said that, I’ll teach my grandmother how to skate tomorrow!

Follow her work on and adventures on


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