For Dutch photographer Michal Pelka, the open water is a second home. By combining his love of surfing and photography, Pelka captures stunning images of cresting waves in the North Sea and across oceans worldwide. His work focuses on the beauty of the ocean and our connection with the water. In his images, the essence of the ocean is made salient through light and motion.
Pelka took up photography at age 16, but it was not until he was living in Western Australia that he began to shoot in open water. As a surfer, he possesses a lot of the skills necessary to read conditions and choose his moments with respect to the motion of the waves.
Now living back in the Netherlands, the North Sea has been Pelka's playground since the pandemic disrupted his chasing waves abroad. He says the cold waters—while not necessarily known for surfing big waves—can still surprise you. “Being in the ocean for me is a means to disconnect from day-to-day reality and at the same time connect with nature and feel in tune with the rhythm of the ocean,” he tells My Modern Met. “The ocean and waves have something timeless and disarming in them; it’s that feeling that I try to capture in my images.”