The Basics of Skate Photography

Why skate photography is an art, and why it matters.

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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.

19 Radical Skateboard Photography Tips

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.

dan zaslavsky photo
Dan Zaslavsky

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.

 

Please find these great articles on JenkemMag.com and BeyondPhotoTips.com. Dan Zaslavsky’s work can be found on his website, DanZaslavskyphoto.com.

Here’s my own amateur skate video! Feel free to comment with your own. Follow me at @BrendanFilice on twitter.

 

 

Why Photography Inspires Me

Why Photography Inspires Me

Brendan Filice Photography Paso Robles California 4

The world is constantly in motion. In cities, people rush from point A to point B – commuters on the bus, students running around at recess, police cars whizzing to the next scene. In the countryside, insects swarm over crops and winds sweep over the vast landscape. Photography inspires me because it allows the viewer to capture one single moment in time. This image will never be the same outside of the frame; it’s immediately a historical artifact as well as a reflection into your personal memory.

My favorite photography subjects are from nature. The sun rising and falling leaves a magical luster over the landscape and it’s impossible to ignore the beauty.

Here are some of my favorite moments that I’ve caught through my lens in recent months.

Brendan Filice Photography: Driving through Mammoth

While driving through Mammoth Park in California, I couldn’t resist photographing this amazing natural frame created by the arc of the underpass. The beautiful bright sunlight is countered by the darkness of the tunnel. This was an incredible day with so much to see.

Brendan Filice Photography Mammoth 3 copy

Have you ever seen water so clear and grass so green? I hope my children and grandchildren are able to enjoy the splendors of nature as I have been lucky to growing up in green California. If we don’t take care of our planet our climate will definitely be in danger and these beautiful vistas will be nothing but archived photos – history.

Brendan Filice Photography Laguna Beach 3

If you can’t tell, I love landscapes. Landscape photography is inspiring because it captures a sense of place. It provides the people you share your images with an source of inspiration for what this place is like – a walk in the woods or a sunset stroll in Laguna Beach. If the photograph is particularly powerful, it will evoke feelings like memories of being on the beach or happy nostalgia.

Photography is also inspiring because it’s not THAT hard. If you are struck by a certain moment in time, and you have a camera on hand, you can capture that moment! Just snap a photo. Even if you’re an amateur photographer, these photos will have an impact on you for your personal collection and for friends and family. And the more photos you take, the more skilled you will get with your tool. Your camera is your friend but it takes time to get to know each other.

 

For more on photography follow BrendanTaylorFilice.com and see Brendan Filice’s photos on Flickr.

The Defining Images of Photojournalism

Photography defines how we remember critical historical events. Whether its the tragedy of war or famous portraits of leaders, photography has become the ultimate form of news since its creation in the mid-19th century.

However, photography is changing. We now are filming ourselves nonstop, with Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, and other apps that keep us vigilantly connected to friends and family.

New York Times columnist James Estrin speaks to social media’s affect on photography. There are two notable changes. One, it is creating a vast new audience that can appreciate photography (consider Instagram). Two, it is changing what we share; the majority of pictures circulated is about ourselves, our friends, and families (consider selfies).

Teju Cole’s “On Photography” column in the NY Times has addressed the influence of photojournalism throughout history. Images that may seem simple now; for example, the dancing legs of three African boys gracing the sand as the ocean splashes their feet, inspired artistic masters to go out and capture the “eternity through the moment.”

Without photographers to help us define our world, where would be? How would we understand our vast history — in moments dark and bright?

“Photographs are a way of imprisoning reality…One can’t possess reality, one can possess images — one can’t possess the present but one can possess the past.”

– Susan Sontag, On Photography (1977)

Let’s take a moment to look back at some of the most influential photographers and their iconic images.

Roger Fenton

Valley of the Shadow of Death (1855)

Fenton was one earliest to capture the war’s effects on film to be brought to the public. He traveled from Britain in 1853 to the document the war on Crimean peninsula, where England, France, and Turkey were embattled in a territorial fight against Russia. This photo is famously free from any dead or wounded bodies. This avoided offending Victorian sensibilities, but the natural landscape littered with cannonballs evokes the wasted tragedy of the war.

Mathew Brady

Confederate Dead Gathered for Burial at Antietam (1862)

 

Matthew Brady and team didn’t actually have quite the technical ability to photograph the the civil war battles in action, but his haunting visions of the aftermath of major battles like Antietam and Gettysburg perhaps forever defined the public’s relationship with warfare; and journalism.

Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky

Mohammed Alim Khan (1880-1944)

Prokudin-Gorsky’s talent as a chemist helped him pioneer some of earliest color photographs of the diverse culture and history of the Russian empire.

Jacob Riis

Bayard St. Tenement, NYC, 1889

Jacob Riis was a Danish-American social reformer who believed that goodhearted citizens would help the poor when they saw for themselves “how the other half” lived. His work was turned into a groundbreaking book in the muckraking movement.

Dorothea Lange

Florence Owens Thompson (1936)

In one of the most iconic images of the twentieth century, Dorotea Lange captured the muted fear of a migrant mother during the Great Depression in the American West.

Robert Frank

The Americans (1958-1960)

As a Swiss Jew venturing across the US at the height of the Cold War, Frank captured a subtle honesty in his portrayal of the American people ;  black and white, poor, middle, and upper class , in the  cities and countryside. The Americans is arguably the best visual critique of modern society from an outsider’s perspective produced in the twentieth century.

Nick Ut

Napalm Girl (1972)

Nick Ut captured what would become a Pulitzer Prize winning photo for the Associated Press. It showcases the utter terror of war, as children run from a Napalm bombing during the Vietnam War, ripping their clothes of from the extreme heat. If we consider the earlier photos listed here, it’s evident that we still live with a culture of violence; and we rely on these photographs to come to a better understanding of these moments.

Find more from Brendan Filice on Medium and Twitter.