Jorge Leal is a Portuguese photographer, filmmaker and graphic designer who has a plethora of content around the Nazaré big wave scene. Whilst in Nazaré learning about our brand ambassador Cotty's second home, and shooting Saltrock's new short film 'Cotty: Comfortable with the Uncomfortable', he took us to meet Jorge and gage a deeper understanding of his work and connection to this small town known for its colossal waves:
For any of us photographers, you come and focus on someone trying to ride that wave. But you can see here [Jorge’s gallery] that these aren’t common shots.
Thank you, that’s good to hear. I’m trying my best, you know. I just love Nazaré, I cannot go out from here. I start to live here permanently, and I’m from Porto which is only 200km away. It’s easy to come, but I really need to be here to feel the place. And now, after this exhibition, I will try to put this as a product everywhere.
Is there a shot of Nazaré that you haven’t got yet that you want?
Yeah. I want two or three more that I have in mind. I need the right kind of day. One of them is on the water, so I need a good driver. I lost my amazing driver and surfer Hugo Val. Maybe I’ll ask Cotty. The guy is amazing, with Cotty I could do it easily.
How long have you known Cotty?
I met Cotty in 2010; in the beginning. We called Cotty and Al Manny, they were the English and Irish team at the time – basically one of the best teams in Europe doing towing. And we called him to support Garret, and since that day he’s been visiting. At first, he didn’t believe that we have a beach break like Nazare, huge waves on an open beach, and then when they saw… we organised and everything started.
And you’ve been photographing him ever since?
Yes. I consider Cotty not just a surfer, but I consider Cotty as a friend. One of my best friends in Nazaré. And yeah, since that day I’ve took pictures, I've filmed the guy, we have amazing stories together so yeah, it’s a lot.
To you, what makes Cotty stand out from the rest of the surfers here?
For sure his perseverance. He’s putting in everything he has. I appreciate Cotty, the way he puts the time in, the effort to be here all the time despite having family; like me I also have family and it’s tough to be here sometimes but all the effort that the guy put on this place he deserves everything.
Do you have any iconic memories from working with him?
Yeah, we have a lot of memories. I remember the first wave I put Cotty and the lighthouse together on a huge wave. It’s one of my favourite shots. But that day was kind of funny because after I grabbed that shot of Garrett that became iconic, everybody wanted a wave with the lighthouse… everybody. That day was a big day, huge day. The night before I asked him
“Do you want it with the lighthouse in front?”
and I was joking, but the next day I was trying, and I was in the same place I got Garrett’s and I found out ‘maybe it’s not here’. So, I ran to a different spot, and I nailed it. So, I’m proud and it was a good story because at the end of the session I said to him
“Look, I got the shot.”
and I think for him, that wave helped him a lot.
How would you describe Cotty to someone who doesn’t know him?
Cotty is one of the humblest guys I know. He’s humble, he’s unique, and once you consider Cotty your friend, he’s always there. So, I will be there always also for him.
In terms of surfing what do you expect from him?
Looking back to all the time he put here in Nazare, and his surfing… he’s a guy that can have the worst nightmare like his break his back, I know he just broke his back on a huge wave, and he’s also the guy that comes back. And surf bigger waves, with even more commitment so he’s that guy.