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  ELIZABETH PEPIN SILVA

Ever since Elizabeth Pepin Silva can remember, she has been going to the beach. Born near San Francisco, CA, and growing up a few blocks from Ocean Beach, surfing lurked in and around her thoughts until 1986, when a free surfboard and cheap wetsuit came her way. She only managed to stand up for a few seconds in the freezing northern California waters, but that was all she needed – she was hooked.

Elizabeth taught herself to shoot photos and work in a darkroom when she was a teenager. Once she had her degree in journalism from San Francisco State University in 1994, she began to take her writing and photography more seriously. Dismayed by the lack of photographs of women surfers in the mainstream surf media at the time, she began taking her camera to the beach, starting her “WaterWomen” surf photo project in 1996. Elizabeth’s unique and realistic images of women surfers, shot with both water housings and long lenses, soon began appearing in museums and galleries, including San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the San Jose Museum of Art. She also began shooting for newspapers and magazines around the world, such as Wahine and SG. Eizabeth’s images have also been featured in five books on women's surfing including: Surfing: The New World Order (Duke University Press 2010) and Surfing: Women of the Waves (Gibbs Smith Publishers 2008).

Elizabeth has little interest in digital imagery, preferring the magic of film unless she is shooting for a client. Moving away from traditional surf photography in the past few years, she has been exploring alternative process photography, utilizing a variety of film stock, cheap cameras, and developing and printing techniques.

In addition to photography, Elizabeth is also a documentary filmmaker and writer. Her award winning films include: Coastal Clash, a PBS documentary on problems facing our coastlines, and One Winter Story, an hour-long look at the life of big wave surfer and scientist Sarah Gerhardt. Her first book as an author, Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era was published by Chronicle Books in 2006.

Elizabeth is constantly fascinated by water and the people who are attracted to it, which is reflected in her films and photographs. The ever changing light and mood of the water, the unique connection people have to the ocean, the challenges of shooting in such environments; she could film and photograph near water every day for the rest of her life and be very happy.

 
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