Salty Visionz with Erik Schwab

We’re stoked to feature the work of Erik Schwab, an amazing photographer, waterman, and all-around good guy whose work graces the walls of all of our rooms this year, and commands our newly minted “ART DOWNTOWN” public art gallery on the Downtown Circle. Be sure to look out for his large outdoor photographic works printed on aluminum there. We chatted with him in anticipation of his opening reception this Friday, July 28th…read on to get to know the man behind the photos!
Which did you pick up first the camera or the surf board? 

I started riding waves at about 6 years old and started surfing around 12. It wasn’t until high school that I really ever picked up a camera which was in a photography class. By that time I already had salt in my veins, and now sand in my camera.

Tell us a bit about your history with both and how/when you decided to marry the two?  

For me, surfing was something that I became instantly addicted to; the adrenaline rush of riding a wave and trying to navigate your way through the ocean is like nothing else! My interest in art, science, and the beach from a very young age has definitely lent itself to my deep passion for chasing and capturing dramatic skies and finding the correct spots to surf based on weather patterns. My appreciation for those type of scenes caused me to want to capture and share them with those around me.

Can you recall a specific moment when you realized that you could actually monetize the combination of these two passions and sell your photography work? 

I think I am still in the process of realizing it. Family and friends had always been supportive, but encouraged me to continue my path towards a degree in education. All the while, I have been practicing my craft and constantly learning new things. Years ago, people began asking for prints which led to me trying to put my work out there a little bit more, entering my photos into various art shows. I’m also trying to navigate this strange social media world that we live in. Instagram definitely helped me to realize that people seemed to “like” my photographs.

You’re also a high school Earth Science teacher…what’s the last thing that a student taught you?! 

Ahhh, excellent question! A few weeks ago a student taught me that a “Googolplex” is the largest known number and is where “Google” got its name. I hadn’t known that prior to him telling me, but I did look into it afterwards and sure enough, there’s a bunch of interesting information regarding that exact topic out there!

You’ve amassed over 17,000 followers on Instagram – how has this platform helped you promote your work and better connect with the surf and photography communities? 

Instagram is an excellent platform to promote myself and connect with people on. It’s pretty incredible that we live in a world where with the touch of a button I have access to thousands of people. The surf world is for the most part pretty small and protective, so lets just say that the large following can sometimes be both a blessing and a curse. It is incredible how many people interact with you on a daily basis from all sorts of walks of life. I think an important point to make here is that I felt deeply entwined into the local surf communities far before I “became” SaltyVisionz. Surfers that I’ve known and surfed with for years, regularly come up to me and tell me they just made the connection between myself and my alias. I also tend to be pretty stealthy with the lens and prefer to shoot empty, generally unrecognizable lineups. Unfortunately, sometimes the best waves are the most recognizable though!

How did your work end up being shown/sold at the MBH this summer and what’s the most exciting aspect of this collaboration for you? 

The past few years I have participated in an event at the MBH called “Community Collaboration” which was where I was approached last Summer by Larry Siedlick, the owner of the hotel. He suggested that we sit down and discuss putting my work into not only the showcases outside, but also in the rooms. With some deep folder digging and collaboration with Walt (the MBH’s Creative Director), we came up with a body of my images that not only felt right for the MBH but also displayed my work and Montauk in the best light possible. And to answer the second part of your question; the most exciting part of the collaboration is the collaboration itself! Super humbling. I really couldn’t be more thankful to Larry and Walt who really helped turn this idea into an actual showcase of my best work!

Besides your opening reception at the MBH of course 😉 …what are you looking forward to most this summer in general? 

Oh man. I’m going to have to say that I’m most looking forward to that first hurricane swell of the season! A nice low sitting SE of Long Island in the middle of the Atlantic, not harming anyone too badly on land. Groundswell for days…in trunks at home while it’s pumping? Yes please. Sorry, got a little carried away there, did I answer the question?

Haha, you sure did! Shameless plug time…are there any other special projects or collabs in the works that you’d like to brag about?

Yes actually! Next month I will be having another show with artist Candace Ceslow at Grain Surfboards in Amagansett on Saturday the 26th of August. This is extra exciting for us because for several years Candace has been taking her personal favorites of my images and turning them into spectacular paintings that look scarily realistic. Also, if you’ve never been to the old Applied Arts building in Amagansett where Grain is now located, you are in for a treat! It is a very neat space that is extremely fitting for the body of work that we will be showing. Follow along for daily artwork, inspiration and stoke @SaltyVisionz. Thanks for the support everybody!

As always, peep our calendar  for events details.