“Throughout the almost 17 years I’ve ran this blog, skate photography has been something I definitely have an appreciation of, but also something I am utterly clueless about. When I thought about opening up the blog to more submissions from rad skateboarders who are knowledgeable about all creative aspects that affect our useless wooden toys, RB was one of the first people who came to mind. RB is a true homie; a pleasure to skate with, and a genuinely nice guy. He also really knows his stuff when it comes to photography, so obviously I asked him to put together a list of his top 5 skate photos.” – Ade
1. Bobby Puleo’s BS Ollie – shot by Mike O’Meally
There have been thousands of skateboarding photographs that I’ve come across over the span of the (now 13) years I’ve been skating, and thousands more since my time as a pre-budding adolescent photographer leading to the present day. Magazines, posters, Flickr, and more recently, Instagram, have all provided an opportunity of constant sources for inspiration, self education, and research of other photographers to fuel my hunger of creative and artistic progression.
The first photograph (and one of the earliest I have to memory) is Bobby Puleo with a BS 180 in Brooklyn, 2001.
As well as being one of the first pictures that stuck with me soon into my creative interest, it was also one of the most striking. The capture of the colours, composure and use of flash stood out to me significantly at an early age, it threw me to question how it was possible to gain so much atmosphere in a single shot so naturally with nothing more than the equipment used on the evening.
Of course, O’Meally’s shot would go on to grow in sentiment with the World Trade Centre towering in the soft sky behind, composed for the peak of the trick. It was an example to me as to how powerful photography can be in endless variations and styles, dictated by the artist.
2. Andrew Reynolds’ FS Flip – shot by Atiba Jefferson
Shot in Vancouver in 2009, this picture of Andrew Reynolds is another example of early inspiration in my path to identity in my own style as a photographer. This tied in with my other photographic passion – documentary photography. It is a clear representation of documenting a sudden moment in its most exposed form without the use of flashes and fisheye lenses. Although this extra equipment is pursued to emphasise the visuals and subject matter, it isn’t always necessary. An outside perspective can be what makes a good photo an amazing photo, by documenting the surroundings and including it in the overall landscape as part of the structure when the opportunity is made available.
The documentation of this moment along with the way it was captured (including the crowd visibly stunned during mid Boss flip) has allowed the story to continue for this picture.
3. Tod Swank’s Push – shot by J. Grant Brittain
The iconic Tod Swank push, by J Grant Brittain, is such a simple photograph, with such a simple backdrop, with a simple shadow, and a simple push. Yet, nothing but personality, power, and a sense of calmness is expressed.
To me, this is a demonstration that it isn’t always about the hardest trick, the gnarliest spot, or the most expensive equipment in order to get the best photo. It’s about the moment, the present, and if you’re able to the get the best shot you possibly can with what you have to work with regarding the situation and the moment.
Brittain’s photograph will always be an inspiration for me, it shall always provide an instance of motivation and ideas when referring to its simplicity when needed. It reminds me how valuable the light and the dark is in photography, how perfectly exposure can be used and how dominant contrast is.
4. Eric Koston’s Hippy Jump – shot by Matt Price
Price is a more recent photographer I have come to discover over the last couple of years or so regarding my more new-coming inspirations. His refreshing eye for detail in his chosen angles stands him out alternatively to others on this list. His obscure close ups with the use of fisheye, flash, and slow shutter speeds reward him in his style of photographing, something everyone with an interest for skate photos should enjoy.
For this reason, this photograph (as well as many) of Eric Koston by Price is a representation of the above description and why I find motivation in his work. This reminds of the fun that can be expressed through the camera, both technically speaking and through skateboarding, and has quickly become a favourite of mine to follow and find inspiration for my own experimental work.
5. Tyshawn Jones’ Thrasher Cover Ollie – shot by Jared Sherbert
For all of the different techniques and styles that have came to inspire me in their masses over the years, the last photograph that I’ve chosen to include is Tyshawn Jones’ Thrasher cover Ollie in Manhattan.
While half of my main focus within my skateboarding photography is integrated with documentary influences, the other half is raw traditional skate methods. I’m a sucker for an invasive and gritty fisheye angle, and that’s why Sherbert’s photo of this powerhouse stunt is definitely the latest to stand out in significance to me.
The Ollie itself is ridiculous, popped from flat and gapping over a subway entrance sideways, this photograph captures the essence of elite NYC skateboarding alongside the city’s personality and architectural characteristics. The shot is raw, it’s honest, and it’s full of mood and expression. Basically, it makes me want to get the next flight to New York.