Lukene Sotomayor: Surf Photographer

Beyond The Frame

Welcome to another episode of Surf Bank's Beyond The Frame where we dive into the captivating world of surf and ocean photography, going beyond mesmerising captures exploring the backstory of many talented photographers. In this episode we will be hearing from Lukene Sotomayor a surf photographer from Mexico, now based in Tofino, Canada. Beyond the frame aims to inspire and inform future surf photographers and ocean lovers being your backstage pass to detailed insights from the minds behind stunning surf shots.

Lukene Sotomayor's Gallery

What Did Your Childhood Look Like?

I grew up constantly moving around different towns and cities within Mexico and Guatemala because of my dad's job. We mostly spent our time in bigger cities, where I would practise swimming in pools as one of my favourite activities to do, but summers were always spent at the beach and by the ocean. I remember always looking forward to that time of the year as being in the cities always meant a lot of overwhelming stimuli and a feeling of being trapped. It's like the beach and ocean were always my ahhh *sigh sound*. So I always knew and thought to myself "when I get to be a grown up I will always live by the ocean". And so it is!

What Came First, Surfing or Photography?

I started to play around with my first camera when I was 14 or 15 years old. I always had a fascination for taking photos and creating films with friends. Then, as I travelled abroad to study my undergrad, I got into surfing and that is how I discovered 'surf photography'. It only took a few trips to different surf destinations to confirm I needed to get a waterhousing and leave the shore to shoot.

How Did You Get Into Surf Photography?

I think it was 2018 when I was travelling in Mexico to surf in warm water and I was shooting from land and reaching out to surfers to give them their photos. Most of them showed appreciation and stoke, that's when it all clicked. I thought to myself "I can actually do this for real! I've found my niche!". A year after the 2018 trip to Mexico when I decided this is what I wanted to do, I travelled to Portugal and met a surf photographer from Brazil, Bruno Matos (@brunomatosphotos). He taught me how to shoot from land, and in the water which had a huge influence on my development as a surf photographer. Now I get to do my most favourite thing while spending time in my most favourite place!

Where Do You Normally Shoot?

For the last few years I have been based in Tofino, Canada. But I mostly enjoy travelling to different locations and prefer shooting in warmer water. Brrr it's freezing cold here!

Photo By Lukene Sotomayor

Where Do You Shoot? Water or Land?

Mostly in the water, however I don't mind staying on the shore. I just think there are specific occasions to stay out of the water and shoot from land. But, to quote my favourite photographer "surf photography is the perfect mix between a sport and an art" you have to be confident in your own skin to swim out in the ocean. Surf photography from the water in itself is its own discipline. You should be able to know the technical side of operating cameras, work your artistic eye and creativity. While having good swimming skills, know about surf and what good surf looks like, same with the wave, how the ocean and all particular spots work. As well as you have to prepare and train your body and mind to be able to perform well in the water and enjoy the experience! Doing all that while staying safe.

What Makes The Perfect Image?

In my opinion, it is a combination of a few different things. Like the technical part of photography. Setting yourself up for success with the right lighting and settings. As well as being well positioned in the water, capturing the right angle and composition. Also always expressing yourself and adding your personal style to it through editing.

How Did You Become So Involved In The Surf Scene?

Just by doing it! Get in the water, shoot your friends, join events. Reach out to people you are interested in collaborating with, and you'll eventually start getting more experience!

What Surf Photographers Have Inspired You?

I could name at least 10, and among so many! I particularly get so much inspiration from Maria Fernanda and Sachi Cunningham. Especially for wanting to prepare and train to swim and shoot in big waves and swell. They are insanely strong-minded, kind and humble women that have opened a path for females in the surf photography scene, and are incredibly talented professionals.

What's Your Biggest Challenge To Overcome When Shooting?

I think it depends on the circumstances. If I'm shooting in cold water, the temperature has a huge impact on me. If I'm swimming out in bigger waves, just watching out to not get caught inside if a big set rolls in. If I am in a crowded place, watching out for boards shooting at my head. Or sometimes smaller things like water droplets on the lens, they can ruin the shot, or forgetting to set up something in the camera and/or getting the waterhousing flooded, for example.

Photo By Lukene Sotomayor

Lukene's Equipment List

Camera & Lenses

Lukene normally shoots with with a Sony A7RIII paired with 216-50mm and 70-210mm lenses.

Water Housing

When it comes to water housing, Lukene uses the Seafrogs Salted Line Waterhousing


When Lukene is shooting she won't go without her Yucca Fins.

Lukene's Best Capture

Photo By Lukene Sotomayor

"I am not sure I have a favourite shot of mine yet! I think I am still working up for it!" - Here at The Surfbank we selected the shot above as our favourite shot from Lukene's work, an absolutely stunning capture.

Lukene's Future Plans

Doing this for the rest of my life and keep getting better at it! Plans are to travel full-time and shoot at as many surf destinations as possible, shoot for and with surfers, mags, events, and brands I admire.

Follow @lukenesotomayor

You can keep up to date with Lukene's new projects and recent captures on her Instagram, as well as contacting her by dropping a direct message.

Do You Want To Be Involved In Beyond The Frame?

Are you a surf photographer wanting your story told? You may be our next Beyond The Frame feature! Please get in touch with us over email so we can get a conversation going:

Photo By Lukene Sotomayor

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