When I think of Naki I think of someone who is living the dream.Living in Japan,Hawaii and California.Traveling to these three different countries all within a year is something anyone would dream of.His relationships with the people in the surf culture are also things that a people would dream of.Knowing people like legendary surfer Herbie Fletcher and musician Donovan Frankenreiter to stylish surfers like Tyler Warren and Christian Wach the list just goes on.He documents his travels through the lens of his cameras and the images he composes just shows the beauty in life and how great it is to be a surfer and live a life based around the ocean.Keep on taking pictures and living the dream Naki,you are an inspiration to us all!
Who are you and where are you right now?
My name is naki. I am currently living in San Clemente, California.
When did you start surfing and how did you start getting interested in it?
I started surfing at age 17. My friend got a brand-new surfboard but he couldn’t ride it, so he would rent it out to me.
How was it growing up in Japan? Were you parents very supportive of you and your love for surfing?
Surfing in Japan is very limited. There are limited waves and waves are not an everyday event. So when the waves do happen, I am very concentrated.
Because I was almost 18 years old, my parents didn’t help me out much. Surfing culture was not big when I was younger, so they didn’t understand why there was a love for the sport.
When did you start getting interested in photography? Do you remember the first picture that you took that made you realize you wanted to be a photographer?
I was 9 years old and my father bought me a little Olympus Camera.
When I moved here to California I had a dream to take a good picture. I took this pelican shot in 1997, and when it was published by US Surfing Magazine and Surfer’s Journal I felt confident and wanted to continue to pursue photography.
You travel to California a lot to film surfers and document the surf/music/lifestyle scene there. When did you start going to California, in particular Southern California?
It was 1980’s when I started going, as I was intrigued by the amazing lifestyle that is what Southern California is all about.
How did your relationship with Donovan Frankenreiter start? Tell me more about who he is as a person and how’d you meet him. A lot of people don’t know it but he was a world top competitive surfer before and still rips on a standard tri-fin hi performance shortboard.
He has been my hero for a very long time, and meeting him came about naturally. The relationship was created when I started to take photos of him.
How about Christian Wach at Canvas Surfboards? How did you meet him? I’ve seen some of your videos and your riding some Canvas boards.
Herbie Fletcher told me, “Naki, I know this amazing 17 year old surfer. You should meet him for sure.” Christian started the Canvas Surfboards idea with a young legend shaper named Ryan Engle. I love riding their boards.
You seem to travel around from Japan, Hawaii, and California. What’s your schedule like for the year? How long do you stay at each place and how do you manage the time to hang out with your family traveling all the time?
I stay in California for most of the year, about 9 months. I spend 2 months in Japan, and about a month in Hawaii. I spend time with my family at the beach enjoying the laid back lifestyle.
A lot of the people that you photograph are more traditional longboarders or people who ride a lot of different types of boards other than just a tri-fin hi performance shortboard.
Yes, I like the unique and traditional designs as it creates a bigger spectrum of surfboards.
I’ve seen your work at the Greenroom Festival in Japan. Can you tell us what the Greenroom Festival is for the Taiwanese who don’t know and how your relationship with them started?
The Greenroom Festival is a huge event. It is 2 days with 100,000 people celebrating surf and music. My relationship came about when I was started presenting my work at the 2nd Greenroom Festival, and it has grown ever since. I am very happy about what this event has become.
Do you prefer to use digital or film and why?
I was a firm believer of film, but looking at the future, digital is the way to go.
What is some of the photo equipment that you are using currently?
GoPro Hero 4
What is some advice for someone who is just starting to get into surf photography and are looking to find their own style?
Feel the surf and feel the glide.
Who are some of the surfers that you think are making an impact today and why?
Christian Wach and Tyler Warren as they can ride anything.
If you were stuck on an island with a right point break, but only had one board, which board would you choose and why?
7’ single fin, heavy weight because I would be able to catch any wave that comes.
What’s one thing everyman should know?
What are some of the highlights in your life so far?
There hasn’t been a highlight so far, but there will come one soon.
What’s your current board quiver and which board have you been riding the most recently?
4’6” Finless/Catch Surf
5’2” Twin (I shaped)
5’4” Stumpy / Nation
5’5” The Bonzer/ Tyler Warren
5’6” Dream Crusher / Nation
5’6” Sonic Boom/ Nation
5’8” Bliss Fish/ Canvas
6’0” The Pink Champagne on Ice/ Nation
6’8” Function Hull/ Tyler Warren
7’0” The Pink Champagne on Ice/ Nation
7’0” Odysea Log/Catch Surf
8’4” Arrow Head/ Canvas
9’6” The Purchase/ Canvas
Last week when I was at Japan’s beach breaks, I rode a lot of 5’6” Dream Crusher / Nation.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
You will see me healthy and happy.
Any last words for the Taiwanese reading this interview?
I love Taiwan (and Taiwanese baseball) and cannot wait to surf there and see you guys!