Our yearning for wanderlust has never been stronger, as kiters we spend a lot of time daydreaming of the perfect adventure, and almost as much time wondering how we will catch and immortalize those perfect moments with photographs and videos to share with the world. At the GKA we share the same problem, how do we get the best images and video footage of our riders and World Tour events to you, the amazing fans at home?
We have an expert team on hand to make sure that perfect passes or slick hacks never go un-captured here at the GKA Kite World Tour, with years of expertise collectively under belts – or camera straps – our digital media team are at the top of the game when it comes to kiteboarding photography and videography.
It’s time for us to introduce Ydwer van der Heide, Svetlana Romantsova and Mintautas Grigas, the faces behind the lenses here at the GKA Kite World Tour
Ydwer van der Heide is a passionate kitesurfer and surfer, who has combined his unique approach and talents into the wanderlust life of an extreme sports photographer. The Dutch man’s iconic style of photography has made him one of the most sought after professional photographers on the scene, his work is instantly recognisable and he always gets the shot.
Ydwer began his journey into kite photography back home in the Netherlands, taking pictures for his good friend Bas Koole. As a kitesurfer himself, Ywder was able to understand perfectly the angles and approaches needed to get the perfect shot, and before long he was being commissioned for professional shoots. He not only works for the GKA but a string of other top kite brands, as staff photographer for Kiteworld Magazine and as an official photographer for the Red Bull King of the Air it’s fair to say his stripes in the industry have been well earned and deserved. His talents don’t stop there, he's also a graphic designer and is art director for Access Kiteboarding magazine in The Netherlands.
A woman in a male dominated profession and sport, Svetlana Romantsova has an artistic talent that brought her to the top of the game in a short time. Her vivid, bright and colourful photography catches the high vibes of the kitesurf lifestyle perfectly.
Where are you from and how did you get into kitesurf photography?
Hello, I’m Svetlana and I’m from Russia. Photography has been my passion since 2004. In the beginning I’ve been more into snowboard photography but as soon as I tried kitesurfing in 2007 and started to travel a lot to kitespots, I’ve had more and more interest in shooting kitesurfing. I went to Dakhla when a friend of mine invited me to shoot for an Alex Pastor kitecamp. I was supposed to stay for two weeks but instead I spent 2 months there, and in that time I met a lot of people from the kite world, who became my good friends and helped me start to work in this industry. For example, Gemma Hamaini and Mallory de la Villemarque were the first people who I met there and they pushed me a lot in kite photography skills and helped me for first publicity and introduced me to some brands.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Honestly if I have to choose - to go kitesurfing or to shoot kitesurfing with a water housing in the water, I definitely would choose the second one. I love being in the water with the camera so much! I really like to shoot freestyle and to try to catch the best moment but I'm getting into the waves as well. Feeling the energy of the waves is unbelievable! I like to work with the riders trying to find the best angles but I love to shoot the competitions so much as well! Here you always have to be everywhere, to shoot the action, emotions, happiness and sadness! And of course take pictures in the water during the heat with the best view of the crowd and flags in the background, that’s probably my favourite part.
How did you join the GKA tour?
I started to shoot freestyle world championship competitions in 2015. Mallory invited me to shoot one stop in Tarifa and after that I joined the tour. In the following years there were a lot of changes in the organisation of the tours, but I missed hardly any of the freestyle stops. When last year freestyle kiteboarding began being officially represented by GKA I was happy to join the crew!
Mintautas Grigas has an eye for movement and detail, he’s always two steps ahead of what's about to unfold, and manages to capture the competition action perfectly. Mint’s talents have brought him far in the kite world and we’re fortunate to have such a dedicated and hard working videographer on our team: while most people are sleeping after a long event day, Mint will be hard at work putting together the daily roundup video ready to bring to the fans at first light the next day.
Where are you from and how did you start kitesurfing?
I’m from Lithuania and joined the kitesurfing community when I was 21 although I have been into water-sports, especially windsurfing from 12 years of age. Now I’m 26 and travel the world as a filmmaker shooting various projects around water-sports industries.
When did you find an interest in photography/filmmaking and how did you become a filmmaker?
I never actually thought of becoming a filmmaker and making a living out of it as I do now. It all kind of happened naturally for me. One thing follows another. From buying a simple GoPro 3 and shooting some silly clips and snapping some photos of myself kiting or windsurfing, to suddenly having a full bag of different lenses and drones and going on a trip somewhere in Madagascar with professional athletes.
What are your top 3 favourite locations for shootings and why?
For kitesurfing number 1 is definitely Mauritius. Incredible landscapes, clear waters and perect conditions for waves and freestyle! Madagascar – Flame balls – because it is the most difficult conditions I shot in Dakhla - this spot has a special place in my heart as I spent almost 2 years living here and started my filmmaking career in the kite industry. This is the place where I first met the GKA crew and came in contact with the competitive part of kitesurfing. For almost 3 years now, I’ve been traveling with the GKA and doing all the highlight videos.
What was your favourite event and why?
I always try to go a couple of weeks before the event or stay a bit longer, so I could kite or surf by myself. Currently, my favourite tour stop is Mauritius. It is just a perfect place to do everything in one spot (and the waves go left – so that’s a huge plus.) The actual event is held in an incredible location with a really good and convenient set-up!
Tell us about your latest project!
My latest project in kitesurfing was shot after the GKA Mauritius event last year, on the nearby island of Madagascar. ”118ft of Freedom” is the name of the project featuring Jalou Langeree, Olivia Jenkins and Johana-Catharina Edin and it is about female kitesurfers. If you haven’t watched it yet (you definitely should!), here’s what it’s about: “In the world of kitesurfing the male gender is dominating the beaches and girls are seen as secondary. Jalou Langeree wanted to prove this wrong and decided to do a girls only trip. Joined by Olivia Jenkins and Catharina Edin, they went on a trip to find one of the most mesmerising left-handers to kite in the world – Flame Balls in the South Coast of Madagascar. To reach that place, they embarked on a 118ft ship called ‘Luna Moon’ which allowed them to live and keep the proximity to this unique wave spot. To be able to kite in perfect waves, the right combination of swell and wind direction must appear, thus sometimes that means you have to wait. But if you wait long enough there is a high chance of scoring the conditions of a lifetime.”