The first time we met Mike – the photographer behind Pura Vida Cornwall – he took some seriously beautiful shots of our home and surrounding neighbourhood in Sri Lanka. We couldn’t resist getting him back out to the jungle to shoot some more for us, and luckily for us he agreed to share some words with us, too….
Where’s home for you?
Physically, home is in Newquay, Cornwall, UK. Spiritually, wherever my wife is 🙂 
What inspired you to get into photography?
I used to be a professional skier and was always on the other side of the camera. I met some amazing photographers along the way who inspired me to buy my own camera. I built up my knowledge and gear over the years and this is partly the reason my bank account isn’t as full as I would like.
What does a typical day look like when you’re on a travel shoot?
A travel shoot approach is the same as any shoot for me. I like to have fun and just let things flow naturally. If it involves people, I make sure there is lots of interaction and I talk through what I’m doing to save any silent awkwardness. Generally full of flattery and talking absolute nonsense. I don’t like to spend all day doing a shoot, I would rather spend my time building a relationship with my subject and then spend less time shooting. Spending most of my time photographing weddings has helped me to work quickly under pressure and in real world situations (work with what you have..!). 
If it’s for lifestyle such as food, I make sure that I can sample the food haha! A day shooting in Sri Lanka involved lots of relaxing/surfing/eating. I always kept my camera handy just in case I saw something that caught my eye. I was forever drying my hand off to take a photo as there is beauty EVERYWHERE! 

What’s the biggest challenge of shooting somewhere like Sri Lanka?
The sun. The sun can be beautiful but it can also be hard work. I know some photographers who only shoot if there is a golden sunset. Anyone can take beautiful photos at golden hour but shooting a couple in mid-day sun is the real challenge. 
Also sand. I have a love/hate relationship with sand. It is the best when I get to go for a walk with beautiful golden sand between my toes. But when I have my bag open and a camera out I can’t stand the stuff, especially when my wife likes to roll around in it so that she looks like a sugar coated doughnut. I’m sure she does it just to laugh at me sometimes. 
Lasting memory from your most recent trip to Sri Lanka?
During our last trip to Soul & Surf Sri Lanka my wife was pregnant. Towards the end of our trip her tummy started to properly show for the first time. She had been feeling fatigued for the first part of her pregnancy in the UK but Soul & Surf really looked after her and we left revitalised and full of energy. This was pretty special to us both. 
And finally…what does soul mean to you?
Ooh this is a tough one. I guess soul means to me, kind of a mix of mindfulness and love. My wife and I often talk about soul food. A beach fire on the beach at sunset makes our souls feel full. An amazing surf with friends, snowboarding some fresh powder before hitting the hot tub. These kind of vibes fill my soul. When I’m just having fun and full of love and happiness then my soul feels full too 🙂 
All images by Mike Pura Vida Cornwall
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Guest Reviews

Thanks for a great stay at Soul & Surf…truly amazing trip and so nice to take time out! Truly inspiring and lovely people and actually our stay was just great and have a lovely moleskin full of notes and now working my way through the ‘to do’ list!

Helen, Cornwall