Light Waves: A Story of Single Fin Women Surfers Around the World

Light Waves by Saskia Koerner seeks to explore and celebrate the untold story of female surfing in iconic surf spots around the world. “I have been immersed in the culture my entire life and heritage and nostalgia are a strong force behind my project.” says Saskia. Celebrating the feminine spirit of women surfers whose lives are closely interwoven with their passion for surfing single fin boards.

Saskia Koerner photographer light waves

Saskia has been inspired by the elegance of single fin female surfers. “Single fins are where we came from in surfing and this retro trend has brought a new wave of single fin riders with more and more women gracing the line-ups. The elegance of the female form combined with the single fin surfboard results in a movement on the water that is truly quite mesmerising” she says.

Starting her project in 2013 while completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California, Saskia was intruged by the incredible women she met in the water while surfing the iconic right hand point break Rincon, the Queen of the Coast. “I started capturing them with an old 8 x10 large format analog camera. After graduating I went on to work in New York City but did not get to surf much. I was however greatly compensated by working with Nan Goldin and the legendary Mary Ellen Mark.” says Saskia.

Light waves photography exhibition

In 2016 Saskia went back to her old local break in Bali and decided to continue capturing the single fin movement — documenting the diversity of women that surf there. All of her portraits are taken at sunrise and sunset before or after a surf session, capturing the women in a natural and informal mood.

After showing Light Waves Batu Bolong at the Deus Gallery in Canggu Saskia headed to the small of Byron Bay in Australia which stole her heart years ago. Inspired by the strong feminine energy of the area, and its famous reputation for talented surf lady sliders Saskia knew she needed to return.

Light waves batu bolong photography exhibition Saskia Koerner

Light Waves Byron Bay was part of the Byron Bay Surf Festival in February 2017 with a warm welcome and great enthusiasm from the local surf community. Afterwards she ventured on to New Zealand and searched for the single fin women there

But it was South Africa that was calling her to come home, to tap into her roots of the place where she was born and raised. Saskia is currently busy capturing the lady sliders along the coast from Cape Town to Jeffreys Bay and up to Durban.

The local response and enthusiasm for Light Waves South Africa has been incredible and will be a part of the Wavescape Surf & Ocean Conservation Festival in Cape Town at the end of 2017.

Slowly surfing her way around the world Saskia is aiming to document the mix of single fin women everywhere in places such as Malibu, Hawaii and Biarritz but also more unknown spots like Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Russia, China and Japan showcasing that all types of women of all ages surf with the same strong passion.

“My experience so far has been that my work is raising issues about image and gender that I had not anticipated. I have always been acutely aware of the issues regarding gender inequality, marginalization and sexualization of women in the surfing world. Maybe in my subconscious these issues made me portray this series in the most natural and informal manner to show that we are all just women of all shapes and sizes and its about our passion for the ocean and riding waves and not looking sexy as they want you to in the magazines.” comments Saskia.

Take a look at Danielle Davenport’s video on Saskia’s Light Waves project:

“Without providing any definite answers I think my work does raise questions about attitudes towards image and gender and can be viewed on different levels. However, I don’t think my portraits are limited by that and I hope they transcend, go beyond and provide a space for debate, acceptance and growth.” she says.

Don’t miss Saskia’s upcoming Light Waves Exhibition at the Wavescape Surf & Ocean Conservation Festival in Cape Town on November 30th at the Red Bull Gallery.

To find out more about Saskia and her surfing journey around the world visit her website

Photography: Saskia Koerner
Video: Danielle Davenport