Where does your passion for photography come from?
I think my passion for photography was cultivated within my artistic family. My father had a picture frame shop and a lot of artistic friends. My sister is an amazing artist. I have always felt confident behind the lens.
You left Brazil to pursue photography - what are some of your favorite locations to see big waves?
What drove me to pursue big waves was Mavericks. I remember one day in 1993, at my friend’s house, I saw a photo of Jay Moriarity on the cover of a magazine. He was on a giant wave at Mavericks - it did not look real! That image embedded in my mind and was when my pursuit for big waves actually started. Finally, in 2001, I got to see Mavericks with my own eyes, luckily for me, it was the biggest and baddest day ever.
In what way do you think growing up in Brazil has influenced you? Do you find yourself returning there frequently?
Growing up in Brazil was challenging, you have to constantly adapt to new situations. There was not a lot of support and information about becoming a photographer. After moving to California, I continued to visit Brazil every year.
Where do you spend most of your time these days? What made you choose that country? Does it inspire you?
California is the mecca of the surfing industry. In Los Angeles, you can find a flight to anywhere in the world. For big wave surfing I am always flying last minute because it's hard to anticipate the conditions, so I have to wait until the very last minute to make my final decision.
You’re well-known for surf photography, but also shoot extreme action sports like base jumping or mountain climbing. What makes extreme action sports interesting for you?
Outdoor adventure has always been my passion. Extreme sports are interesting to me because of the amount of dedication athletes put into challenging themselves, it’s not only physical, but also mental and spiritual. I also love the community. Plus, to capture these sports you have to be exposed to the elements and this challenge drives me. The picture is the reward.
What's important regarding equipment?
Throughout my career I’ve always believed it's important to experiment with a variety of cameras and lenses so that you can understand the possibilities and perspectives. For some of my ideas I’ve had to adapt. I’ve had to create my own water housing for big waves and flash photography because I didn't find what I wanted on the market at that time. Doing that expanded my horizons. The important thing about shooting extreme sports is trusting your equipment. Most moments can never be recreated, so you have to capture the shot in the moment. I chose SanDisk for all my memory cards after a really bad experience with another company, I lost all of my data and after that, I only use SanDisk.
Did Red Bull Illume have an impact on your professional career?
By far, Red Bull Illume is the best adventure and action sports photography contest in the world and it has inspired me a lot. Seeing all of these talented photographers pushing themselves to capture incredible moments is very motivating to me.
Do you have any projects planned for the coming months?
I have just finished an incredible climbing documentary in Yosemite. I am still working on that.
You can find more of Fred’s work on Instagram, @fred_pompermayer, or on his website.