Proof Sheet: Brent O’Donnell

About six or seven years ago, I started seeing this kid popping in and out of sessions, always with a camera in hand. Little did I know that this kid would end up making a video like CELLOUT or playing such a huge role in the Richmond skate scene. I didn’t actually meet Brent ’til about two years after because he doesn’t say much. He’s constantly studying everything that has to do with skateboarding and taking pictures of skateboarding. For the last few years most everyday has been similar, which is wake up and find out what’s changed in the skateboard world overnight, memorize it, see how he can get someone to meet up later and shoot something, stop by the shop and look at the latest magazine again, go skate in hopes to pull his camera out, then after, go to work at Richmond Camera ’til about 2 a.m. I always have questions about who did this trick at this spot, where a spot is or who some guy rides for now, and I can’t remember a time he didn’t answer it right away. He’s one of the most devoted guys I’ve ever met. Looking at his photos all the time you can see that this will definitely be his lifelong job one day, and I feel that that day may be coming soon.–Maury Blankinship, Venue Skateshop Owner.

Gilbert Crockett, backside lipslide in Richmond, Virginia.

How long have you been shooting skating and what got you into it?
I’ve been shooting skating for about eight years. I just shoot photos of what I’m around and what I care about so shooting skating was just a natural progression.

Is there one photograph or photographer that inspired you to take up photography?
Well my dad is a photographer and I grew up around cameras. So when I got a little older he helped me get started and taught me the basics. Then I got the 2005 photo issue of TWS with Scott Pommier’s photo of Olly Todd doing a frontside ollie on the cover. I read all the articles in that issue and I was hooked. I also get a lot of inspiration from guys like Anthony Acosta, Oliver Barton, Jonathan Mehring, and Mike O’Meally.

What’s the best and worst advice you’ve been given on photography?
Best advice would be to never give up and shoot what you love. Worst advice would be to shoot weddings for a living.

Do you have a favorite photo of your own?

We went on a camping trip up in the mountains of Virginia and a bunch of us were swinging on these grapevines. My friend Josh Swyers wanted to try and swing out as far as he could and we shot this photo. I was really psyched on how it turned out.

What’s the most interesting story behind one of your photos?

It was a rainy day so we decided to go skate a parking deck. Then this car pulled in and these three people got out and started blasting techno and doing circus tricks. One girl was blowing fire, another dude was swinging torches, and the other guy was bouncing on a tight rope. Definitely one of the weirdest things I’ve witnessed while out skating.

What advice would you give to up and coming skate photogs?
Be easygoing and able to get along with a wide variety of people.

Do you prefer digital or film?
Nowadays with the internet and how fast things come out digital is almost a necessity. But I still love the process of shooting film and I try to when I can.

What’s in your camera bag?
Nikon D3s
Nikon fm2n
Nikon 16mm f/2.8
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8
Nikon 105mm f/2.5
Lumedyne 200w/s action pack (1)
Sunpak 555 (1)
Nikon sb900 (3)
Pocket Wizard mini tt1
Pocket Wizard Plus 2s (5)
Bronica SQ-A
30mm f/3.5
80mm f/2.8
150mm f/4

Your photography website if you have one:
brentodonnell.tumblr.com

Check out the gallery below for some of Brent’s choice shots.

Brent O’Donnell. Portrait by Josh Swyers.