There are rules to skateboarding photography.
There’s a great article by Nic Dobija-Nootens in Jenken Mag called, “The Politics of Skate Photography” that rightfully argues that the legacy of skateboarding is pretty much defined by how it’s photographed. Difficult decisions determine how these photographers get their work seen and ensure the proliferation of skateboarding’s legacy.
First, check out these basics of skate photography to familiarize yourself with the lingo.
Skateboard photography is very much amount the critical moments of the trick, the landing, the style of the boarder and the style of the board and skate park. Set the scene and define the energy. Photographers are known to shoot in clever perspectives, getting down on the ground and capturing boarders flying over their head. Close-ups are a classic method to capturing brief moments during an execution of a trick. Show speed, shadows, and learn your angles.
What is a “make” photo?
A make photo is when a skateboarder finally makes an epic trick.
Nic Dobija-Nootens asked well-known photographers whether they always use these images in magazines. Dan Zaslavsky is the photographer at Thrasher, who replied,
“That’s a question that’s been asked since the inception of skateboarding magazines.
I don’t consider that a problem. I consider that a success. If he didn’t land it that try, but the photo looks rad, who gives a fuck? I will try my best to get a photo and get out of the way before the dude’s ever landed it.” When asked if he would publish a photo before the trick was properly landed, Zaslavsky says, “If I decide to let that photo slip by without them actually landing it yet, I feel I have done an injustice to skateboarding as a whole.”
Skateboarding is where art and journalism collide . If the image fails to represent the truth, even though it presents the potential (of a faithful execution of the trick), then the photographer is perpetuating a lie. It would be wonderful to look through a skate magazine with people launching off of immeasurable heights, imagining amazing feats of tricks as the land; but it would just be a false perception.
Here’s my own amateur skate video! Feel free to comment with your own. Follow me at @BrendanFilice on twitter.