Big bro Julian lives down the street on the Venice side of Dogtown. He's usually flying all over the world speaking at some something-or-nother conference, but lately, I've been seeing him check in on Foursquare at skateparks all over the country. Wasn't he just at the Venice Skate Park yesterday? There he is, documenting the variety of life that is living and breathing down by our oceanside, outdoor, skatepark capturing everybody: locals, tourists, old pros, next gen's top skater and their families. He's even shot us a few times, hanging out.
Julian's always got some awesome project happening and when he told me about Hello, Skater Girl I got really excited. I've always been a fan of the sport. Silvio was the lead artist for the blockbuster videogame, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Lulu's godfather is a former pro-skater, and much of our community including the one reading this post are life long friends and family from the sport.
It's no secret that I would love for Lulu to be an astronaut-pro-skater someday. She's got her first deck, so really, nothing can stop her, right?! I think the Hello, Skater Girl book would be a great addition to Lulu's bookshelf. I hope you enjoy this interview I put together with my photographer pal:
I'm doing a photography book project. The subject is girl skateboarders. I told myself I was doing a book project because that was the easiest thing to wrap my head around. What I really wanted to do was understand skateboarding culture more than I already did, and I basically didn't really understand it at all — so the project was a way get to know what skateboarding was all about.
Why focus on girl skateboarder?
At first I naively convinced myself that no one else was trying to capture and document girl skaters through some sort of visual medium. That was stupid to assume, because of course it's not true. But — if you look at much of the core skateboarding communities and magazines and the big brands, you don't see much photography of girl skaters at all. That's just the way it is and I understand the systemic issues as to why, even if I don't understand why not — the lost opportunities.
That's what drew me to the project because I love creative projects that go against the grain — that do something that "no one" else is doing. And, of course I know that's just a creative start. As soon as you think no one else is doing something you immediately start finding all the people who are doing that thing. The creativity comes in finding a way to do what other people are doing in a unique, individual way. That's much more fun to be amongst a community of similarly motivated folks and find your own style and technique.
Okay, so..how would you describe your style?
It's easier to "see" than describe but — what I'm trying to do is a bit photo-geeky and technical but I try to set up portrait-like photos of this very dynamic, very kinetic sport. I'm shooting for a look that is studio-like — something with big, curated light and the background fall-off you might see in a portrait shoot. I think this is atypical in the canon of skateboarding photography where you often have very big compositions: the big skater/ultra-wide/fisheye look; or the landscape shot with a small skater amidst a big street/urban-concrete setting. I guess I was going for something different just to be different — a wide-ish lens with little distortion; no motion blur; strong visual separation between the skater and the background. That's geeky.
How'd you get into skateboard photography, anyway?
I moved to Venice Beach awhile ago. The town got a skatepark right on the beach a couple of years ago. Going there and shooting was a better way to learn about the history and culture of this place I'm now living in than reading about it or going to town council meetings.