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Bernard Testemale

Surf Photographer

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Bernard Testemale

Peyrehorade, France

Be it by fate or fortunate encounters, Bernard Testemale dove into the world of professional photography early in the 9O's.

Born in 1958, he was raised and still resides in the Southwest of France. This lover of voyages and adventures, grew up in the tiny town of Soustons in the Landes region, where he planted solid roots, close to nature and the ocean. Around the age of 14, he discovered surfing, at a time when single fins were flowering all over the beaches of the Landes and Basque coastline. The long days at the Corsaires beach and the escapades on the road to Mundaka left their mark on him forever.

Too young or not young enough, during the Golden Age of surfing in France, professional obligations eventually decided his direction for him, and it was far from the world of his adolescence where he spent the early years of his life. Training as an aeronautical mechanic and earning a license to transport sensitive materials had him travelling frequently as soon as he turned 18. Somalia, Kenya, and India by boat, then England, Ireland, Eastern Europe and the Middle East by land where he worked 3 week rotations every month to all ends of Arabia and Iraq.

Just before his 30th birthday, Bernard rediscovered his first love through windsurfing, a sport that he had just recently started to learn. He joined forces with his friend Frédéric Demanie with whom he shared the same passion, to take over a small workshop that made fins for windsurfing and surfboards.

If the original goal was clearly to be able to stay close to the sea and to take advantage of the conditions as soon as possible, they still played the business game and the « Aerial Fin » factory quickly became productive.

The shapers filled up the order books, Pukas, Euroglass, Maurice Cole, Stark and many others become clients for their production boards and also for the more specific models designed for world champion pro surfers like Tom Curren and Tom Carroll.

An encounter with professional windsurfer, Fabien Pendle, was a definitive turning point that brought Bernard to events on the pro circuit, where they worked on the research and development of the fins. Two years later, the best windsurfers on tour were ordering product from the little workshop. Custom built on demand, piece by piece : Robby Naish, Bjorn Dunkerbeck, Torkil Kristensen, Robert Teriitehau, and Fabien, Babeth Coquelle would all bring home a quantity of world championship titles thanks to the fins fabricated out of the little factory in Hendaye.

It was during that same period that cameras and lenses appeared in the life of Bernard for the first time. As a keen amateur photographer, he took advantage of his trips to immortalize the sport that he loves and lives for. Very quickly, the magazines start calling, and photography starts to take on an ever more important role in his life.

Another intervention of fate perhaps, as a motorcycle accident puts an end to his career as a leading fin designer, just as the world of professional windsurfing started to lose some of the wind in its sails. With a busted spine, and in the middle of a very slow and painful recovery process, Bernard still manages to immortalize a few memorable sessions at Mundaka and La Gravière, shooting his surfer friends, who would soon after become celebrated names in the sport.

Surfing in the early 90's was becoming more and more popular and it was quite naturally that Bernard turned his lenses toward this very unique sport in its genre, and that he knew so well. After his period of convalescence, his friends at Quiksilver sent him on missions to cover important competitions like the first ever WCT event at G-Land in the isolated jungle islands of Indonesia. The success of this innovative event gave Bernard his chance to break through in the profession. The French magazine Trip Surf opened its doors to him, and since then he has been a loyal employee, taking charge of the Photo Editor position and the department. Large brands call on his services and his work can be seen on numerous billboards, in ad campaigns and posters.

As a contributor to major magazines on 5 continents for the last 12 years, Bernard Testemale has become one of the references in the world of surf photography, recognized and respected by his peers. He has taken part in a multitude of projects that have brought him to the four corners of the earth, with a total of a dozen or so trips around the world, searching for new waves, following the swells and the light with enthusiasm and passion, accompanied by the best surfers on the planet.