Everyone knows someone like Sacha Specker, a product of one of those gene pools that seemingly enables him to excel at anything he takes his hand to. Bodyboarder, surfer, one-man media house, photographer and craftsman, it's about time someone found a flaw in this man's existence.
To many people, Sacha is known as a professional bodyboarder, and his competitive results in what was formally the IBA World Tour are more than capable of speaking for themselves when it comes to his wave riding ability. In 2012 and 2013, the South African successively took out the Pipe Challenge Drop Knee division in Hawaii. But he didn’t join the IBA tour with intent to compete. Sacha’s initial focus on tour was creating and distributing the photographic content surrounding competitive bodyboarding.
“After doing this for a year, I figured I could do the trials into all the main events as I didn't really need to give my full attention to the pre-event action and still had plenty time in the evenings to put together image packages and press releases,” Sacha explains.
The renowned lack of funding provided by the bodyboarding community meant that he was already doing the job of several people. Combined now with competing in the same events he was documenting, it’s fair to assume his plate was rather full, but with his bodyboarding confined to neither Prone or Drop Knee, he somehow found the time to enter both disciplines.
I had a good look at it and figured ‘I could do that,’ so I reverse engineered an SPL to figure out how everything works" "Some of the DK events doubled up with the Grand Slams. It was a busy time for me, but some of the best years in memory.”
As if professionally documenting the same events he was competing in wasn’t enough, Specker does one better – the camera housings he uses to shoot in the water, he builds himself.
“The price of water-housings was not in my budget range at that time and still aren't. I watched a friend of mine, Cameron Nelson, build one during a season in Hawaii, then I bought one from him a few years later. I had a good look at it and figured ‘I could do that,’ so I reverse engineered an SPL to figure out how everything works. Over time I’ve figured out what works best and created my own. Never had any hassles and I love using my own gear,” he explains.
Shooting is hopefully going to become my career so when I have an opportunity to book a job this moves to the top of my list of priorities until I have completed the task to the best of my abilities."When it comes to someone as gifted as Sacha Specker, labelling them seems only to retract from a broad spectrum of talents. The only sensible thing left to do is sit back and admire the talent rushing through their veins.
Riding and documenting waves play equally important roles in his life, and his abilities in both are a reflection of the large amount of talent pulsing through him. “I don't want to say what comes first, as I enjoy both very much and there's always a time and a place for both," he says. "Shooting's hopefully going to become my career, so when I have the opportunity to book a job this moves to the top of my list of priorities until I've completed the task to the best of my abilities.”
Despite skills certainly adequate of pursuing a career in wave riding, Sacha’s current focus, at least within the confinements of career, has fallen into the arms of photography.
"My friend Caleb Bjergfelt is responsible for this. When we were kids, he got into photography, bought a housing setup form Andre Botha and started shooting us at home. A few years down the line, when I started travelling more, I decided it would be a good idea to shoot. So in 2007 I asked Cameron Nelson to build me a housing. Once I had the housing, I needed a camera. My brother gave me a Canon 450D for my birthday that year and so the story begins," he explains.
I’m always alone in one of the most beautiful places on this planet, capturing images that nobody else can recreate. It's a special place to me"
“For now, I’m trying to set myself up in Cape Town, to spend a season working in the photographic production industry here, being a part of commercial and editorial productions. The only travel I'll be able to afford in the near future will be for work. I'd like to make capturing images in and around water my job and become an established water camera operator in the Commercial industry of Cape Town. I have some new concepts and designs that I will introduce over the next few months that'll hopefully bring me one step closer to realising this."
He might not be able to commit his time and energy into travelling the world right now, but based in South Africa, there are certainly worse places one could be stuck.
My biggest inspiration would have to be the feeling of capturing something that I really want to show others. This is what gets me going."
“I love shooting a little wave near my home. I’m always alone in one of the most beautiful places on this planet, capturing images that nobody else can recreate. It's a special place to me. I love shooting with talented people who understand what I'm trying to capture. Then the location is not important," he says. "My biggest inspiration would have to be the feeling of capturing something that I really want to show others. That's what gets me going."
For more of Sacha Specker's work, check out thespex.com