Interview: Christian McLeod
At the age of 19 Christian McLeod was captured by the details around him. Born in Montana’s high Rockies, he moved to Ireland when he was 8 and discovered an affinity for the sea. He picked up a camera and soon found himself pointing his lens into the maws of the isle’s frigid, terrifying slabs. Nature’s beauty continues to draw him, regardless of cold or consequence.
During the winter, numerous things threaten both your health and your gear. Number one being the cold. This can’t be ignored. A 6mm wetsuit barely keeps you warm in the water while shooting, and a thick down jacket barely keeps you warm on land. Number two has to be the slabs around Ireland. They’re hard on your gear and your body. If you’re like me and want to get right in there—right in the zone—then your water housing will get beaten, your wetsuit will get tears, and your backside will get bruises.
In Ireland you can’t help but explore. There are so many waves that haven’t been seen, yet alone surfed. It feeds the curiosity that hides in every adventurer, keeps the blood running warm, and keeps everything new and fresh.
Being a photographer here can be hard with the weather and the often poor light. But staying outside and waiting for those moments really pays off, as long as you are prepared. You can risk getting cold and getting beaten by waves, but it’s always worth it in the end.
Friends keep you alive here—literally. So many days during winter the waves are massive and just plain heavy. I have several friends who have cracked their backs or heads off the reef here. If their friends weren’t around, I don’t want to think about what would have happened. Even hiking or camping over here can be pretty gnarly, with ice and snow and steep cliffs. Reaching the waves is a task in itself. Always good to have a partner.