Camille Robiou du Pont
Camille Robiou du Pont is a french born photographer and filmmaker. She has been based in Asia for the last 8 years and found her home on a small island in the Philippines since 2016. She has always been fascinated about women and their relationship with the ocean, and how it helps them to highlight female’s confidence, beauty and freedom. Enjoy our full interview with Camille below.
Hey Camille! Thanks for answering a few questions for us. Stoked to have you! Firstly to kick things off, tell me – where abouts are you originally from and how was your interest in photography born?
Hey Surf Visuals team ! Thanks for reaching out :)
I’m Camille, a French born photographer from Nantes.
My interest for art in general started quite early when I was still in college. I was always buying old cameras in flea markets even if none of them were working! I decided to apply for a graphic design Master, and it was during this period that my interest for photography became more than just a passion. It was now a complete life choice. I think I had difficulties expressing my sensibility and how I feel daily, and photography became my medium to share what is around me.
What made you make the move to the Philippines? How do you find living here? Paint us a word picture of the island you call home.
I decided to move in the Philippines after living in Shanghai for 4 years. I wasn’t feeling myself in a city such as Shanghai because I couldn’t find nature and the ocean, I got kind of very oppressed. After visiting the Philippines for the first time in 2013 during my holiday, I totally fall in love with the country and the landscape. It took me a while before I moved, but finally in 2016 I was realising my dream! I moved in a small island, Siargao, with the most famous surf spot of the country and this is where I started surf and underwater photography.
I have always been attracted by having a simple lifestyle and be surrounded by nature. Siargao wasn’t popular when I first moved there and it was truly paradise.. Empty surf spot, transparent water, jungle and coconuts everywhere around your house. I learned a lot to slow down and connect with the environment. Now it’s a bit different, as the island has gotten very famous but if you surround yourself with good people you can still find this island vibe and connect with your inner wild-self.
What’s the surf and local surfer talent like here?
The surf community really started 15 years ago, when foreigners started to visit the island and give surfboard to the locals.
Today the kids living close to surf spots are literally in the water trying surfing at age 3 or 4! They are all very passionate and focus on this sport.
I’m so impressed by their skills and their attitude in the water, it’s like they are born for the ocean. Most of the family here are very poor and surfing is a kind of escape door for them. The island is hosting a WSL international competition every year and it’s so amazing to see the local athletes competing with world champions! Surfing definitely opens new horizons and hope for the people here.
Is surfing growing in popularity in the Philippines?
The surfing community grows a lot in the Philippines, especially thanks to the different athletes who represent the country.
The country started to have their own national competitions a few years ago and it definitely helps locals to know more about this sport.
How are you finding the current COVID-19 situation in a country such as the Philippines? It seems like your home country of France has been pretty hard hit with beach closures etc.
The situation here is still ok because we do not have any positive cases. But we only have few hospitals to help people if the virus got in the island, and people don’t take in serious the quarantine rules.
The island is closed since 2 weeks ago and we don’t know when it will be open yet.. I think the most important thing is that we do not have any cases here and that we can contain the virus outside the island. Surfing is not allowed anymore, but the temptation is really hard as there are no more tourists; the surf spots are all empty again!
A lot of your work encapsulates women as the main subject. Is the focus on female subjects part of empowering women in the surf industry or is there a bigger picture?
Women became my main subject in my photos because of the inspiration and the aura I got from them. I think seeing them surfing was one of the most beautiful things I ever experienced. The combination of the water and the light makes it a perfect combo, it’s like I was meeting a new energy and a new space.
Surfing is a way to feel more confident and free, to develop and grow your inner wild-self. With my work, I learned that I could share values that are important for me and I wanted to empower women not only for the surf industry but first of all for themselves.
Have you got any favourite female surfers or photographers that you draw inspiration from?
One of my favourite surfer ever is definitely Josie Prendergast! Josie is like an angel walking on water. She is one of my biggest inspirations.
And I’m so lucky to be surrounding by locals legend such as Ikit Agudo, Aping Agudo, Maricel Pajares… they teach me to believe in my dreams and in myself.
I do have a lot of photographers thats inspire me, such as @pierrot, Tamara Lichtenstein, Jeremy Snell, Kate Bellm…
Working with talented surfers such as Josie Prendergast, Ikit Agudo and Aping Agundo (just to name a few) along with the tropical setting of the Philippines, must give you an abundance of elite photo opportunities. What’s the best part about living here?
The best part living on the island with such athletes is to share moments in the water without pressure from the outside. The girls are super natural and we've known each other for a while now, we’ve seen each other grow, so it’s always fun moments all together!
What advice would you give to women starting out in the photography industry?
The most important thing is to try and to try and to try again. Try as much as you can, try new setting, new places, new spots, new people. Play with the elements around you and listen your inner voice & yourself. Don’t do photography for others but for yourself, understand what message you want to share and trust your intuition.
What else do you have planned for 2020?
Well I had a lot but first of all we need to survive this crazy virus! And then I will just try to be in the water (taking photos, surfing, free diving….) as much as possible in and continue to meet inspiring women.