SARASOTA, FL – With a sense for adventure and $500 dollars in his pocket, he bought a round-trip ticket to Queensland, Australia.
To stay for two weeks.
He stayed for almost a year; making surfboards for money.
During that time he began to discover his love for photography.
By the time he was 25, Eric Nalpas turned his love into a career.
“I realized with photography, you really have to give it 100 percent to make anything happen,” says Nalpas.
He was hired as the correspondent photographer for the Sarasota Herald Tribune; covering Red Cross efforts during Hurricane Katrina and the San Bernardino wildfires, as well as local events.
Today, Nalpas is the official photographer for the Sarasota Polo Club, where the best polo players in the world gather to play polo and fans watch.
During polo season, Nalpas covers up to nine games a week; Sundays are his busiest days.
After the first year of working, he started playing polo.
“I think if I didn’t start playing, I wouldn’t still be there,” says Nalpas.
His skill in the game allows him to predict what is going to happen next, capturing the best moments with his Nikon D800.
His assistant, 23-year-old McKenzie Chadwell, is pleased to be working with him.
“I see life in angles and so does he,” says Chadwell. “It’s nice to be able to see our work together through a camera lens. I give him my own perspective on things, all while he’s teaching me how to become a professional in this field.”
On top of everything, Nalpas has taught Chadwell it doesn’t matter what kind of photography equipment you have, it matters what you do with it.
His favorite part about working as a photographer is interacting with people and traveling; he’s always had a thirst for traveling.
“I love it. I love every minute of it,” he says.
Prior to becoming full-time photographer, Nalpas was shaping surfboards around the world for legendary surfboard builder Juan Rodriguez.
“I used to joke and say I made surfboards for the life and the style,” says Nalpas. “Turns out I didn’t have a life or style. I wanted more.”
When he’s not working at the Sarasota Polo Club, Nalpas works as an independent photographer; bartends part time at a downtown Sarasota resturant, and is busy being a dad to 6-year-old Logan Nalpas.
Nalpas also recently dove back into making surfboards.
“It’s my familiar getaway,” Nalpas says.
Despite his successes, Nalpas strives to be a better photographer.
“I don’t think I’m the best; on a scale of 1-10, I give myself a 6. I want to be better; that’s what keeps me going,” he says.