As I exited from the Ten onto the 405, I had to question what I was doing. It was 6:15 in the morning, and I didn’t have my surfboard as I made my way to Venice beach, nor did I have my swimsuit and underwater housing unit, to where I could make my way out in the water to snap some surf photos of the locals at sunrise catching waves. I could tell the light was going to be perfect, and that sunrise was going to be breathtaking. So, I was really questioning my decision.
What decision was that? Well, as a photographer I’ve always been an observer and never indeed a true storyteller. I’ve observed the moments that happen within my life and documented them; however, I don’t go out of my way to tell others stories. The ones that have to do with culture, people, and ideas. It’s hard for me to explain, and even harder for me to shoot. Yet, as I have stepped away from photography as a profession, for the time being, I realize I long to tell those stories. It’s what makes the world exciting and can bring change.
Making my way from the 405 down Washington Place to Venice Beach, a place full of culture, people and ideas I began to become excited about this new little series. Looking to take portraits and build a story about a French Feminist, I remind myself of the words of Alessandra Sanguinetti to which brings me some comfort.
Manon Lanza, the French Feminist, is an Instagram influencer, who aims to bring awareness to women in the world of surfing and skating. Not only does she take to one of the most powerful social platforms in trying to spread her message, but she also seeks the big screen by being an actress, director, and producer of multiple films. She’s currently working on three that have to do solely with empowering women.
Upon arriving in Dog Town, I was finally able to meet Manon. Seeing how she was only to be here in the States for three months, I knew I’d have to make these meet up’s count and get in as much time as possible in finding out about her and her mission in life.
Now, I don’t want this to become a fact page, nor a Q&A on Manon; instead, I want you to see what I learned about a person, who A: has a language barrier yet still works on an international market point of business. B: is entirely selfless in her mission of bringing her message to the world. Needless to say, I was overall impressed with Manon, and how savvy she seemed to be within the world that she lives and works.
I think that’s what I find interesting about this, is not only Manon but her mentality of making a brand and sticking with it. I honestly never saw Manon stop working through the course of our first meet up. Now, as time went on, and we continued to build our friendship, I can attest that it still stands true. Our meet up in Dog Town in the fall of 2018 was only the beginning of what hopefully is a beautiful friendship. We ended up meeting up four other times to “work” on bringing her message to the world. I say work because most would see her work as play, yet I can say, it certainly isn’t all fun and games.
The sacrifice of comfort is something Manon knows all too well. Within our time together, I saw time and time again Manon get bruised, scraped up, hurt, and suffer significant sleep deprivation, and unbearable conditions while surfing. I also saw pure joy come across her face multiple times, and embracing the moment to which she was living in.
Never once did I see her get discouraged. Sure, while surfing things didn’t always work out, and she clearly was freezing while waiting for a wave, but her attitude was optimistic, and full of a positive vibe that I found all too refreshing. Yet, I came to learn, that’s just Manon.
Something else we talked about was how the social network world that we live in is about that of comparison, yet, that’s the last thing she wants anyone to do. Rather, she desires everyone should be themselves. Yes, there’s people she looks at and dreams on being, but at the end of the day her message is really who she is. Be yourself and get out there and bring your own change to the world.
Overall, meeting Manon was an amazing experience, and ended up building a friendship I would never forget. I learned so much and I’m grateful I gave up my perfect waves / morning surf to learn about being myself more in this ever changing world of social media.
Next time with A3i. I will be talking to Hannah Rose Murphy. A true artist who is beautiful in every way, and upon meeting her, you’d expect her to be exactly as she is, TRUE to ones self. Stay Tune.