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Shifi Ettinger
Shifi’s shot of Jacó at dusk
Wave near Playa Hermosa; photo by Shifi Ettinger

Shifi Ettinger, surf photographer

What and where Shifi was BCR (Before Costa Rica)
Shifi was an aspiring photographer in Rishon LeZion, Israel, afraid she’d end up shooting weddings.

How she came to Costa Rica and what she’s doing now
When she was an 18 year old in Israel, Shifi saw someone's home movie of surfers in Pavones (on the southern Pacific coast, down near Panama). "I was fascinated by the wave," she says. "I knew I had to go." She and her boyfriend traveled through Central America in 2000, and they stopped in Pavones.

“The swell made me stay. We were camping, and we said, 'This is crazy, but let's give this place two weeks and see what happens.'" They found property in those two weeks, and soon after opened La Manta, a restaurant with Israeli food and a huge white wall that Shifi used to screen the videos she was shooting of each day's waves. The restaurant filled up with surfers wanting to see if they'd made it into Shifi's movies that day. She also shot stills, and found that surfers were crazy to see themselves on a wave, at the moment when they felt most alive. The moment when there was nothing in their head but getting in sync with a piece of the ocean about to release all its pent up energy in one final throw and curl.

Later, Shifi moved to Jacó, on the Central Pacific coast, more accessible than Pavones and thus offering more potential customers. She publishes her photos in magazines and has had a few shows of her work, but her bread and butter is selling photo CDs to surfers. She copies the shots she takes at the beach onto her laptop, throws in some nature shots of Costa Rica, then burns the lot onto CDs. For the guys who are seeing themselves on a wave for the first time, it's a bargain. "It's like, Hey! I can surf," one of her customers down from Florida confesses. "I mean I thought I could, but now I'm sure. I've got proof."



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