Ambassador Mark Harpur – Experience life to its fullest potential
Tell me a bit about where you’re from, how you ended up in Mexico working with what
I always struggle with that question, when people ask me where I am from. I was born and raised in South Africa but left shortly after I finished college and have lived in the Middle East, UK and Sweden since then. In 2013 I quit my job in online media and gave away everything I owned besides my camera and what I could fit in a backpack to start travelling. After attending Burning man in the States, I didn’t really know what to do next so decided to come to Punta San Carlos in Baja, Mexico to do some more windsurfing while I figured out what next. I had intended to stay for a month, which was a year and a half ago.
Read more about the journey to Mexico here
Why did you start windsurfing and then eventually surfing? I think a lot of people who started surfing later on in life can remember that time, perhaps when you caught your first real wave, when you got hooked. When was that for you? And what is it about the sports that you love?
I grew up watching windsurfing on TV, there was a show called Gillette World Sport special, which used to show the indoor and some of the wave events. My dad had an old Windsurfer one and we cut up a Laser sail to make a small enough sail for me to learn the basics. For me it just looked like the coolest thing, though I never imagined I would be sailing a wave. Years later when I was living in the UK I decided to get back into windsurfing and joined Queen Mary Sailing club just outside of London. I remember the first time I got planing in the foot straps and hooked in, and then the catapult, it was exhilarating and I knew I was addicted. Then when I was on a Jem Hall clinic in Rhodes, someone suggested I try the wave beach. I got completely washed but caught one wave and knew had to get more, which is what got me to come to Punta San Carlos for the first time on another Jem Hall clinic at SoloSports. Then there was the first time I slid backwards trying vulcans, it is just such an unexpected feeling. I think that’s the thing about windsurfing that keeps one hooked, there is just so much to learn and so many new challenges and experiences, it is like a drug that keeps getting better and better the more you do it.
As for surfing, I started that to have an additional upper body workout once I decided to spend the winter in Punta San Carlos. It didn’t take long for me to start craving non windy days and glassy waves. Surfing is just so much more natural and allows you to really feel the wave, the sound of your fins cutting through it as you glide down the face, it seems to eliminate everything else in the world for that moment.
I love the feeling you get when scrolling through your Instagram, just photos of a life many would dream to have. How does a regular day look like for you?
Thank you, that is a huge compliment to me as it is the story I’d like to tell with my photos. During the season I am actually quite busy, each day is different but if I were to grab the regular highlights it would look something like this:
Up as early as the night before allows catching the surf/SUP action in the morning light. Often joining the surfers once I have a full memory card. Spend the rest of the morning sorting and processing photos until the wind kicks in around midday. Have a windsurf session in the harsh light while everyone else is eating lunch and then come in to grab the camera and capture the action. In the evenings I am behind the bar making all number of strange concoctions and enjoying the buzz people get from this place.
When did you get more into photography and why? Is it more about capturing the sports you love and the lifestyle that comes with it or is it more about the technical side of photography?
I first bought a camera about 10 years ago and started by trying to understand all the technical aspects of photography, which got me focusing on landscapes. If I look at my early photos, they are exactly that, technically correct, but they lack a feeling. It is only when I really started living the lifestyle that my photography started to come alive and convey the story that it does today. I think, with today’s tools anyone can be a good photographer but to really capture a moment you have to be in it and to do that you have to live it. Today I can’t take a picture of a seascape without making sure the waves look just right, the surfing/windsurfing lifestyle has been the biggest influence in my photography.
What is it you want to communicate with your photos?
I think you said it with your comment about my Instagram feed. I want to tell a story about lifestyle and adventure, to bring people into my world and in doing so inspire them to take time away from the manic societies that have become the norm.
What’s your drive?
To experience life to its fullest potential.
If you’re interested in reading more about Mark, check out his blog and webpage here.