Skateboarding Photography

Thursday, December 18 2003

Matt and I went shooting at Department of Skateboarding again last night. The session was a bit tense last night, as there were a few guys dominating the bowl that seemed to be new there. I think this dominance was annoying the regulars, so the vibe was a lot different than normal. What’s usually a fun filled evening seemed a bit more like elbowing and jockeying for position on some kind of invisible pyramid.

When Matt comes, I sort of feel guilty for dropping him into this kind of intense pit of action. I’ve been in his position before, where I’m trying to fathom all of the different technical aspects of my equipment on top of wrestling with unknown and advanced photographic techniques – not to mention the human factor. It’s hard to tell if the people riding are happy or upset about you shooting them, and the opportunity to chit chat with them doesn’t come up often. I remember when I first started shooting how timid and intimidated I was, and I, perhaps irrationally, harbour guilt for introducing the “sport” to Matt.

But then I remember the payoff. All of the awkwardness with your equipment and the atmosphere pays off when you get a shot that approximates what you were aiming for. You forget all about whatever concerns or frustrations you had, and you get recharged for the next shot. And with Digital SLRs, you get the payoff immediately.

Last night I thought that skateboarding photography is sort of like going deep sea fishing. You’re likely to catch all sorts of things, most of those things being completely undesirable or simply average, but sometimes, you catch a marlin or huge chomping mako shark, and you realize why you stepped out of your comfort zone in the first place.

I’m excited to keep learning, because there is an obvious style and art to skateboarding photography that will continue to challenge me as long as I live. I’ve grown up with it all my life, and shots I see by the best photographers speak to me in so many ways, and continue to do so as I begin to learn their art.

And to prove me 90% undesireable / 10% mako analogy, I’m starting an album of all of the original shots with no color corrections, contrast adjustment, cropping, or anything. It’ll help me recognize my progress, as well as give hope to those just starting.