Surfing, by most accounts, is a rad pastime. Though a surfer may control his board, he’s subject to the whims of the sea; somewhere between the order and chaos is a realm of serenity where surfers thrive.
When most people think of surfing, they imagine a warm climate — certainly warmer than Long Island, New York. Oddly enough, some surfers are so dedicated to their passion that they’re willing to brave the cold water and wind of the Northeast; in fact, they’re happy to do it.
Professional photographer Matt Alberts recently took a trip to New York City and Long Island, where he photographed several passionate surfers who satisfy the definition of “LIFER.”
What is a LIFER? There are many definitions throughout Alberts’ visual journey across the United States, but there’s a common thread: A person who is so passionate about something that he makes it his life’s work.
The Seasons Collection is a project born from Matt Albert’s partnership with Cadillac, and an evolution of Alberts’ greater LIFERS project. The above video — a road update from The Seasons Collection — introduces several dedicated Northeastern surfers. Take professional surfer TJ Gumiela, who regularly surfs at Long Beach, NY: “We surf in any conditions; in the snow, if it’s sunny out — we’re just passionate about what we do.”
Related: City Surfers: Q&A with Brooklyn’s Union Surfboards
If you find the stories of New York surfers compelling, step back and glimpse The Seasons Collection at large. This year, Matt Alberts is touring the nation with a pair of handsome Escalades provided Cadillac and reaching out to LIFERS who are inspired by snow, sun, and water — including snowboarders, skiiers, skaters, cyclists, and, of course, surfers.
Throughout the project, Alberts has captured images of LIFERS using wet plate photography, which was most popular in the latter half of the 19th century. Why use this archaic form of photography, you ask? Alberts explains: “Discouraged by the meaninglessness of most digital images, a desire grew inside of me to create something authentic. I wanted to be more involved with the process. I wanted to be back in the darkroom and working with my hands. I wanted to remove myself from the virtual world of digital photography.”
Perhaps a more accessible byproduct of The Seasons Collection are the video updates uploaded to YouTube, in which we meet the LIFERS that Alberts photographs. Most notable is Klaus Obermeyer, founder of skiwear company Sport Obermeyer. At 95 years old, Obermeyer is still living his passion and skiing nearly every day, making him the quintessential LIFER.
Throughout the video series, it becomes clear that Alberts is himself a LIFER whose passion is photography and skateboarding. Alberts project beckons his audience to join in the fun by finding their passion, then living it.
Though Alberts’ subjects eat, drink, and breathe extreme sports, the term LIFER can apply to any human endeavor. Accounting, plumbing, and boat repair may not lend themselves to compelling YouTube videos, but they stir passion in some people, surely.
The point is, life is short — if you’re not passionate about what you do, don’t waste your precious time. As one of Alberts’ subjects says, “Do what makes you happy and work your life around that.”