Light Waves

Photographic exhibition by Saskia Koerner


Wavescape Event: November 30th & First Thursday : December 7th


6pm – 9pm

LOCATION: Red Bull Studios

103b Bree St, Cape Town City Centre


In this photographic portrait series I seek 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.

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 mesmerizing.

I started this project in 2013 while doing my Bachelor of Fine Arts at Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California. Surfing the iconic right hand point break Rincon, the Queen of the Coast, I was intrigued by the many incredible women of all ages I met in the water. 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.

In 2016 I went back to my old local break in Bali and saw how things had changed in Batu Bolong, the popular surf village of Canggu. It was here that I decided to continue capturing the single fin movement and document the diversity of women that surf there. The portraits are all taken at sunrise and sunset before or after our surf sessions to capture the women in a natural and informal mood.

After showing Light Waves Batu Bolong at the Deus Gallery in Canggu I headed to a small town in Australia that stole my heart many years ago: Byron Bay. I knew a lot of the girls there and love the strong feminine energy of this area. The famous Pass surf spot is home to many incredibly talented surf lady sliders.

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. I ventured on to New Zealand and searched for the single fin women there. The scene is a lot smaller but I found a few spread across North Island.

South Africa is where I was born and raised and it was calling me to come home and tap into my roots. I am currently busy capturing the lady sliders along the coast from Cape Town to Jeffreys Bay and up to Durban. The response and enthusiasm for this project has been amazing and Lightwaves South Africa has been accepted as part of the Wavescape Surf & Ocean Conservation Festival ( Cape Town) end of 2017.


I am slowly surfing my way around the world and aim 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.

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.

Past Exhibitions:

September 2016 – Deus Gallery, Canggu, Bali
February 2017 – Byron Bay Surf Festival, Byron Bay, Australia


Links to Press:

The Australian  /  ZIGZAG The Yak Mag  / Makara Wear

Links to Saskia Koerner

Instagram   /  Website 


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