• Daria Samway

Shooting the Surf in NYC With Daria Samway

Catching the A-train from Manhattan with a surfboard at 5:00 am is a rite of passage for photographer Daria Samway.
Daria Samway   |   NEW YORK CITY

 

Waiting for the early morning A-train from Manhattan to the Rockaways with a board under your arm is a rite of passage for photographer Daria Samway. An early morning commute to spend some time away from the madness of the concrete island and submerge one’s self in the salty, sometimes freezing, sometimes murky and always rewarding ocean waters of Queens.

Developing a keen interest in International Studies, Daria has journeyed around the world and recently settled in NYC to study at The New School’s Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts. A maker of videos and photography, Daria hopes to create as a positive means of communication to highlight the ideologies she is passionate about.

Daria Samway is the latest talented legend and boardrider to share her thoughts with Gobe for our Shooting the Surf series where we chat with our favourite female ocean photographers from around the globe. Looking for waves in unlikely places and learning about global surf communities through the lens of talented picture makers from all corners of the globe.

 

Daria Samway

Rockaway, NY

 

Gobe:

Thanks for your time Daria :) How are you? Where are you answering these questions from and what are your plans for the day?

 

Daria:

Thank you for reaching out! I’m doing well :) I’m currently sitting under a tree in Washington Square Park. It’s around 11 am on a Sunday, and I’m thinking about heading over to Rockaway to see what the ocean’s looking like.

 

Gobe:

What gets you up in the morning and what is the first thing you do?

 

Daria:

Definitely the idea of all the places I have yet to travel and explore in the world, but most times I find myself taking it day by day. I try to start each morning with the intention that everything I move through that day is a chance to learn and to grow, and with that, I begin each morning with a glass of water and 30 minutes of meditation.

 

Daria Samway

Rockaway, NY

 

Daria Samway

Rockaway, NY

 

Gobe:

What else do you enjoy giving your time to besides making photographs and films?

 

Daria:

I love practising yoga, dancing, going hiking, swimming in the ocean, exploring interesting places that can’t be found on a map, and being in good company! Though I find that most of these things are also accompanied by my camera :)

 

Gobe:

You’ve recently moved to New York, where were you based previously and what drew you into the perma-hustle lifestyle of NYC?

 

Daria:

I’m originally from Miami Beach, FL, but I’ve been travelling around this past year. I spent a few months in the city, a little bit of time in northern California, a few months in Argentina, then to The Bahamas, Cuba, and Maine! School brought me back to NYC this most recent time… I think having Rockaway so close definitely made the decision to move here a lot easier. Every time the city noise gets a little too loud, I head to the beach, swim in the ocean, and refresh.
I’m still getting used to the commute (it’s a little over an hour from Manhattan), but I feel like taking the A-train to Rockaway is a rite of passage in a way. It was pretty exciting when I took the train out there for my first early morning and saw a handful of people with boards getting on at 5 am as well! That’s something I definitely want to capture more of – NYC surfers, boards and all, on the subway to Rockaway.

 

Daria Samway

Rockaway, NY

 

Daria Samway

Rockaway, NY

 

Gobe:

What were your first impressions of the oceans over there?

 

Daria:

The ocean was definitely not the first thing that came to mind when I started thinking I wanted to live in New York. My first time at the beach here was quite a change from the warm waters back home, but that being said, the ocean is the ocean. I feel at home again when I’m in the water, and I’m really grateful to start to become part of a community the sea dwellers and ocean admirers out here!

 

“Something that really struck me about Rockaway was the diversity in the water. That’s where it really reflects NYC in that it’s a dynamic group of people that each brings something of their own to the ocean.”

 

Gobe:

Is there a happening female surf scene? Can you tell us about it if so?

 

Daria:

Something that really struck me about Rockaway was the diversity in the water. That’s where it really reflects NYC in that it’s a dynamic group of people that each brings something of their own to the ocean. I’ve been lucky enough to photograph some really rad gals out here so far, but I’m still getting to know the community and the lay of the land (or ocean in this case).

 

Daria Samway

Rockaway, NY

 

Daria Samway

Rockaway, NY

 

Gobe:

You shoot a lot of film, super 8 and stills, do you take your Nikonos V out into the cold North American waters?

 

Daria:

I do! The last time I was fully in the water was still late summer, so my cold-water-resistance will definitely be tested in the coming months! I’m really excited to get fully wet-suited up and in the action this winter though :)

 

“Shooting film also gives me a level of artistic independence that I don’t always find myself having when I shoot digital.”

 

Gobe:

Why did and do you choose to shoot film?

 

Daria:

I feel like I’m always discovering new reasons why I shoot film. I originally started because I found my parents old 35mm in a cupboard with a roll of exposed film in it. I sent the roll in to be developed, and when I got the prints back, the photos were at least 10 years old! It was such a sweet experience that I decided to try my hand at film, and I’ve been hooked ever since! Since then, my obsession has grown, and I’ve experimented with 120mm, and Super8 as well.
Shooting film also gives me a level of artistic independence that I don’t always find myself having when I shoot digital. I love that with film, I have the ability to choose all of the factors that go into making my photos – the type of film, the metering, the settings, the camera – but ultimately, I can never be absolutely sure of how my photos are going to come out. I remember getting my film back from a trip to Cuba this past summer and being so excited to see a few specific photos that I knew I had captured. I had such a clear idea of how I had remembered each moment in person, that I completely forgot some of them were shot on expired film. The frames I was expecting were not at all what I ended up with, but I found myself loving them even more because they had their own character. It also allowed me to hold onto a part of the experience that wasn’t captured in the photo. It made each moment a little more personal. The intimacy film allows is one of my favourite things about it… it keeps me more present in each moment and more inspired to keep creating!

 

Daria Samway

Malibu, CA

 

Daria Samway

Malibu, CA

 

Daria Samway

Malibu, CA

 

Gobe:

I relate watching surfers, in particular, longboarders, as a form of gliding water dance, having a background in dance, is this something you found attracted you to photographing surfers?

 

Daria:

For sure! Longboarding is such an art form within the surf community, and I find myself in awe of people, women specifically, who have such power and grace on the water. I think I naturally gravitate towards shooting longboarders because of its water-dance like quality. That’s when super 8 becomes my medium of choice! I’d love to experiment more with the similarities between land movement and water movement captured on super 8.

 

Daria Samway

Ocean Beach, CA

 

Daria Samway

Ocean Beach, CA

 

Gobe:

Where has been your favourite travel destination to photograph and surf?

 

Daria:

I travelled to the Lofoten Islands in Norway a few summers ago, and it was pretty spectacular! Photographing at Unstad Beach was my first experience with artic surf, and I was really just amazed by the grit everyone in the water had… I mean I was there in their warmest month, and it was still freezing! That being said, the water was crystal clear and so blue, the beach was surrounded by rolling green hills, mountains, and giant cliffs, the sun never set, and it was the most magical place I’ve ever been!

 

Daria Samway

Ramburg, Nordland

 

Daria Samway

Havana, Cuba

 

Gobe:

What is your favourite photograph you’ve ever taken, and could you tell us the story behind it?

 

Daria:

I have one favourite photo but it’s not from shooting da surf… if that’s ok!
My favourite favourite favourite photo I’ve ever taken is from Cuba, and it was completely unexpected. I was inside this incredibly grand building with an ornate staircase and tall pillars lining the entrance, and I was photographing a beautiful human while in the company of more beautiful people. The lighting was amazing, but I had loaded the wrong film and thought that all of my photos were going to come out underexposed. I kept shooting in hopes that maybe I would get a few good frames out of the roll. When I got my film back, this was the first photo I saw, and I just loved the simplicity of it and how soft the lighting was… his hand draped and the slight tilt in his head with the curves of the staircase lining the back.
As for shooting the surf, I don’t know that I have a favourite photo yet… but I do have one from the first moment I was in complete awe and admiration of the ocean over here. It was early morning, and I had woken up around 4:30 am to catch the train to make it to Rockway by sunrise. When I got there the sun was just coming up above the horizon and everything was radiant. I was shooting straight into the sun, which made the whole sky orange, and only the silhouette of the surfers could be seen. Everyone seemed to be gliding through the water that morning, and there was a really sweet and exciting energy in the air. It was really magical!

 

Daria Samway

Bayside, ME

 

Gobe:

Who or what are some of your inspirations? And what keeps you motivated to keep creating?

 

Daria:

I’m motivated by everything I have to be grateful for, and all of the strong and beautiful people in my life! There’s still so much I want to explore and being in a new city has really enhanced my desire to capture and create. I also find a lot of inspiration in the sweet moments that happen unexpectedly, the early morning light, the happy times shared with people I love, and the curiosity and adventure that my parents raised my brother and I with.

 

Gobe:

Who are your favourite female photographers, surf or otherwise?

 

Daria:

I feel so lucky to have grown up with so many female photographers to look up to! The first person I remember being really inspired by with surf photography was Anrielle Hunt. Her work is the reason I decided to get a Nikonos V and try out water shooting! I also really love Luki O’Keefe and Megan Barrett’s work!

 

Daria Samway

Miami Beach, FL

 

Daria Samway

Miami Beach, FL

 

Gobe:

If you could photograph any person or any place, who or where would it be? I know my list for this topic grows every day, so maybe who or where is at the top, at the moment?

 

Daria:

Ooh my list grows every day too! There are so so many places I’d love to go! Right now, I’d really love to explore the western coast of Mexico… I know that’s pretty vague, but I’d love to just get a van and go from top to bottom and everyone in between!

 

Daria Samway

Rockaway, NY

 

Gobe:

What personal projects can we look forward to from you next, what are you enjoying exploring at the moment?

 

Daria:

I’m in the process of developing a few rolls of super8 from my adventures these past few months, so those will be out soon! I’m also really excited to head out to Rockaway when there’s snow on the ground and the surf is pumping!

 

Thanks for your time Daria :)

 

 


 

Daria Samway

 

F U L L   N A M E

Daria Samway

 

dariasamway.com   |   @daria.samway

 

H O M E T O W N

Miami Beach, currently New York City