This spring, Ben Thouard joins Ulysse Nardin’s Armada of explorers alongside freediver and photographer Fred Buyle, sailors Sébastien Destremau, Romain Pilliardand Dan Lenard, snowboarder and surfer Mathieu Crépeland kitesurfing champion Alex Caizergues. Like the hero of Homer’s Odyssey, these modern-day Ulysses set out to conquer their dreams and ambitions, ready to face obstacles and the unknown, connected more than ever to the elements, the ocean and Nature.
Thouard grew up in Toulon, in the south of France, near Marseille. Not known for its waves, it was still enough to give him the “surfing bug” at just eight years old. Around the age of fifteen, he found an old film camera in the attic of his family’s home. Curious, he bought himself a few rolls of film and quickly discovered a second passion: photography.
Power and poetry of the elements
In love with the ocean and armed with his photo equipment and his DIVER Great White 44 mm, Thouard chases waves, their strength and their clarity in a quest to capture their beauty and emotion. With over two million breathtaking photographs of water in motion, Thouard has just published his first art book, SURFACE.
A wave has no age!
Having begun as a surf photographer, Thouard quickly decided to move towards what he calls “artistic” photography. He came to seek the timelessness of nature by caressing the surface of the water with his lens. Under water or on it, Ben Thouard’s photos uproot every point of reference in a play of light that does away with the notion of gravity and time. Above, below or on the wave is of no importance. What counts is the texture, depth and sparkling beauty of nature and the elements. Thouard currently lives in Tahiti, which he especially loves for its clear, turquoise waters. It’s not hard to understand why. His photos, bathed in shades of blue, gray and white, are deeply moving. Aesthetic, timeless and “never-before seen”, they have brought him international renown and several prestigious awards. But not without hard work! Ben Thouard takes to the water at carefully calculated moments, in which nothing is left to chance. His shots sometimes require more than a full day of work spent in the water measuring the sun’s rays with almost surgical precision to capture mere seconds. Months of work for a single photo, a single wave. An instant.
Even today, when photography is less likely to awe than at the dawn of its invention, there is something absolutely magnetic in Thouard’s work, which clearly differentiates art photography from photography. In the former, which produces images and emotions, the challenge is to take visible reality and extract what it does not seem able to give. A magnificent work of graphic composition, as well as emotion, carried out by Ben Thouard and proudly encouraged by the Ulysse Nardin teams.