Hand In Hand

The role that photography has played in documenting, developing, and popularizing skateboarding since the earliest days of the sport, is beyond explanation in its magnitude.

Over the years, generations of photographers, motivated solely by their passion for skateboarding and photography, have been able to find their niche in this rapidly changing world of skateboarding. Doing so has enabled them to document everything from skateboarding’s greatest wonders to its smallest feats. From the personalities who have changed and continue to change the face of skateboarding every day to those who choose instead to document the lives of their friends and their local scenes—contributing images to their friends ‘zines and Web sites.

Skateboarding is not all glamour and glitz. Nor is skateboard photography. It’s being out there and doing what you love most. One thing is for certain, only the most dedicated, focused, and committed of photographers manage to make successful careers out of photographing skateboarding. These are the photographers whose photographs you see in magazines, catalogs, and ads, on video-box covers, billboards, buses, and benches.

Sure, skateboarding is huge today. And its photographers have had as much to do with its growth and success as the skateboarders going out there and killing themselves to land their tricks.

Here are a few of skateboarding’s photographers who are out there every day. They spend weeks—even months—away from their homes at a time. They sleep on couches, eat bad food, tolerate the antics of childish skateboarders, and are inspired by the antics of other ones.

These are some of the guys who bring the images that make the world of skateboarding go around. Some are notorious workhorses, others aren’t. Some have developing styles, and others are seasoned veterans. Some photographers are bigger than others.

Differences aside, it’s their commitment and passion alone that are inspiring beyond that any words could describe.

Dylan Doubt
Birthdate:
February 12, 1972, born and living in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

How long have you been photographing skateboarding for magazines and companies?

Five years.

How did you first get into photography and shooting skateboarding?

When I was three I was fond of photographing my own feet. Skateboarding was obvious and inevitable.

Do you primarily shoot ads or editorial?

Mostly editorial, but the ads definitely pay the bills.

Do you travel a lot for work?

Traveling is integral. And although it’s impossible to sit in my room when I’m on the road, there’s nothing like new places with a good crew.

What role do you believe photography has played in popularizing skateboarding?

Skateboard photography is a by-product of the popularization, though it does inadvertently benefit from it.

What is one of the most interesting experiences you’ve had on the job?

One morning while on assignment in San Francisco, I was having a power breakfast with Brian Uyeda and Kenny Reed when Björk came into the restaurant and sat down with us. She was charming.

Ryan Matthew Gee
Birth date:
March 16, 1974 in Newark, New Jersey.
Lives: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Who are you?

I squeezed my way out into this crazy world where my parents decided to name me Ryan. This happened in the car-jacking capital of the world: Newark, New Jersey. Family calls me Ryan, and friends call me Gee. At the age of 21, I decided to migrate to Philadelphia, and I’m still residing here to this day. The skate scene is great here, and the rent is ridiculously cheap in Philly. It’s perfect for me.

How long have you been photographing skateboarding for magazines and companies?

Well, 3,285 days and counting. Since 1993.

How did you first get into photography and shooting skateboarding?

I was always the person in the group who would film my friends skating. When I graduated from higschool, I started to shoot photos because filming was getting boring to me—creative—wise. I would always study the skate magazines and analyze people’s photos for hours. Soon enough I was in college taking black and white printing classes. My teacher would always bitch about how many skate photos I shot. I couldn’t help it—skate photography was my drug, and I was addicted to it. I quit school after three semesters because I felt it was holding me back. Plus my teacher gave me shitty grades while the other students got As by shooting photos of trees. I was over it. So I learned the more technical inside stuff off of other skate photographers. Thanks, Grant.

Do you primarily shoot ads or editorial?

More editorial.

Do you travel a lot for work?

It depends what’s going on with the skate teams. If Swift, Grant, or a team manager wants me to travel overseas to work on an article, I’m on it in a heartbeat. Every year I’m out of the country doing work. I love it. You get to see the world for free. I know a lot of people who’ve still never even left their home state. I’m just thankful for the opportunities I have.

What role do you believe photography has played in popularizing skateboarding?

I can’t think of an answer for this one. Next question.

What is one of the most interesting experiences you’ve had on the job?

Getting attacked by a deer in Costa Rica and losing my spleen at Woodward skate camp. Is that interesting? Actually, that stuff was near fatal.

Gabriel Joseph Morford
Birthdate:
July 14, 1972 in San Francisco, California
Lives: San Francisco.

How long have you been photographing skateboarding?

Around sixteen or seventeen years. I shot my first skateboard-company ad when I was around twelve or thirteen years old. It was a wheel-company ad with a still, sequence, and portrait of Ray Simmons. It was exciting to see my photos published in a magazine.

How did you first get into photography and shooting skateboarding for magazines and companies?

It probably started when my parents would let me shoot the last couple of frames on rolls of film so they could get them processed. The first skate-related photo I ever shot was a shot of my board next to my cat. It was probably on the end of a roll from a Cub Scout outing.

Do you primarily shoot ads or editorial?

Shot for shot I probably shoot more editorial. I also work for Deluxe Distribution, so I shoot their ads and catalog shots. I probably end up shooting around five to ten ads a month and anywhere from five to twenty editorial pages a month on average.

Do you travel a lot for work?

Not as much as I used to. Now I’m a lot more selective about my traveling and try to limit my trip to two weeks at the most.I enjoy traveling as long as its productive and fun. I love shooting photos. So as long as I get to shoot, I’m pretty happy. I like to shoot stuff exclusively, so I don’t really shoot contests. A lot of times when you travel with a team, a lot of other people want a piece. Battling with other people trying to do the same thing I’m doing affects the session or whatever.

What role do you believe photography has played in popularizing skateboarding?

There are a lot of forms of media that have made skateboarding popular, but I think that skateboard photography in ‘core magazines are a little more true to what’s going on. Sure, there are trends in the magazines, but it’s a lot more realistic to the average skateboarder.

What is one of the most interesting experiences you’ve had on the job?

There are so many. One aspect of shooting skateboarding is the mental battles that these guys go through to do most of the stuff that skateboard photographers shoot. It’s tough getting yourself to do such precise—and a lot of times dangerous—things on a skateboard. So I want to put as much into a photo as I can—so that it’s worth it for the people that I’m shooting.

Scott Elliot Pommier
Birth date:
October 31, 1976 in Elliott Lake, Ontario, Canada
Lives: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

How long have you been photographing skateboarding for magazines and companies?

Four years if you count smaller local magazines. I think I had a Birdhouse ad in 1997.

How did you first get into photography and shooting skateboarding?

The two coincided. I wanted to shoot photos because I was such an avid reader of skateboarding magazines. I guess there was some latent urge to be a skateboard photographer even when I was ten.

Do you primarily shoot ads or editorial?

I shoot editorial more than ads. Part of that is geography. When I travel to California I tend to shoot more in the way of ads. I much prefer shooting editorial, I find it more rewarding, even if ads pay better.

Do you travel a lot for work?

In the last year I’ve started to travel quite a lot. Air travel has become a lot more stressful for obvious reasons.

What role do you believe photography has played in popularizing skateboarding?

I think skateboarding is really photogenic, more so than other sports. If you look at a wakeboard magazine or snowboard magazine, you can tell how much the photographers have to struggle in order to bring something exciting to a photo. They need sunsets, silhouettes, pole cams, helicopter shots, the whole deal. Look at Sports Illustrated—there are lots of great shots, but they’re all really similar. With skateboarding there’s an inherent variety in the locations, in the tricks, and the collaboration between the rider and the photographer. There are tons of amazing things that have been done on skateboards for the sole reason that it would make a great photo.

What is one of the most interesting experiences you’ve had on the job?

I usually head back to the hotel early and miss the interesting experiences. I’ve met some amazing people in my travels—people I would otherwise have never met, in places I would otherwise not had occasion or even inclination to visit.

Giovanni Reda
Birthdate:
February 6, 1974 in Brooklyn, New York
Lives: New York, New York

How long have you been photographing skateboarding for magazines and companies?

Eight years.

How did you first get into photography?

My dad.

How did you get into shooting skateboarding?

I always skated, so it seemed natural to shoot it.

Do you primarily shoot ads or editorial?

I do equal amounts of both.

Do you travel a lot for work?

I travel tons, and I wouldn’t trade that in for the world.

What role do you believe photography has played in popularizing skateboarding?

I think it played a huge role because the mags are a primary place to see skating. Yes, there are videos, but the mags usually show the first things that happen in skating with photography.

What is one of the most interesting experiences you’ve had on the job?

The job itself is an interesting experience so it’s difficult to pick just one.

Brian D. Uyeda
Birthdate:
January 1, 1974 in North Hollywood, California
Lives: San Francisco, California

How long have you been photographing skateboarding for magazines and companies?

Five or six years.

How did you first get into photography and shooting skateboarding?

My mom’s point-and-shoot camera and the Minolta she gave me for my eighth-grade graduation. Thanks, Mom.

Do you primarily shoot ads or editorial?

Mostly editorial. I only give photos for ads when the skaters ask me to.

Do you travel a lot for work?

Lately I have been traveling a lot. I enjoy traveling to different countries and checking out different skate spots and cultures.

What role do you believe photography has played in popularizing skateboarding?

A big role. I remember as a kid I would see the action frozen on the pages of the skate mags and try tocott Elliot Pommier
Birth date: October 31, 1976 in Elliott Lake, Ontario, Canada
Lives: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

How long have you been photographing skateboarding for magazines and companies?

Four years if you count smaller local magazines. I think I had a Birdhouse ad in 1997.

How did you first get into photography and shooting skateboarding?

The two coincided. I wanted to shoot photos because I was such an avid reader of skateboarding magazines. I guess there was some latent urge to be a skateboard photographer even when I was ten.

Do you primarily shoot ads or editorial?

I shoot editorial more than ads. Part of that is geography. When I travel to California I tend to shoot more in the way of ads. I much prefer shooting editorial, I find it more rewarding, even if ads pay better.

Do you travel a lot for work?

In the last year I’ve started to travel quite a lot. Air travel has become a lot more stressful for obvious reasons.

What role do you believe photography has played in popularizing skateboarding?

I think skateboarding is really photogenic, more so than other sports. If you look at a wakeboard magazine or snowboard magazine, you can tell how much the photographers have to struggle in order to bring something exciting to a photo. They need sunsets, silhouettes, pole cams, helicopter shots, the whole deal. Look at Sports Illustrated—there are lots of great shots, but they’re all really similar. With skateboarding there’s an inherent variety in the locations, in the tricks, and the collaboration between the rider and the photographer. There are tons of amazing things that have been done on skateboards for the sole reason that it would make a great photo.

What is one of the most interesting experiences you’ve had on the job?

I usually head back to the hotel early and miss the interesting experiences. I’ve met some amazing people in my travels—people I would otherwise have never met, in places I would otherwise not had occasion or even inclination to visit.

Giovanni Reda
Birthdate:
February 6, 1974 in Brooklyn, New York
Lives: New York, New York

How long have you been photographing skateboarding for magazines and companies?

Eight years.

How did you first get into photography?

My dad.

How did you get into shooting skateboarding?

I always skated, so it seemed natural to shoot it.

Do you primarily shoot ads or editorial?

I do equal amounts of both.

Do you travel a lot for work?

I travel tons, and I wouldn’t trade that in for the world.

What role do you believe photography has played in popularizing skateboarding?

I think it played a huge role because the mags are a primary place to see skating. Yes, there are videos, but the mags usually show the first things that happen in skating with photography.

What is one of the most interesting experiences you’ve had on the job?

The job itself is an interesting experience so it’s difficult to pick just one.

Brian D. Uyeda
Birthdate:
January 1, 1974 in North Hollywood, California
Lives: San Francisco, California

How long have you been photographing skateboarding for magazines and companies?

Five or six years.

How did you first get into photography and shooting skateboarding?

My mom’s point-and-shoot camera and the Minolta she gave me for my eighth-grade graduation. Thanks, Mom.

Do you primarily shoot ads or editorial?

Mostly editorial. I only give photos for ads when the skaters ask me to.

Do you travel a lot for work?

Lately I have been traveling a lot. I enjoy traveling to different countries and checking out different skate spots and cultures.

What role do you believe photography has played in popularizing skateboarding?

A big role. I remember as a kid I would see the action frozen on the pages of the skate mags and try to emulate their style. If it looked cool in the photo, I wanted to go learn that trick. I think videos might have had a bigger impact. But before videos it was mainly magazines.

What is one of the most interesting experiences you have had on the job?

Just craziness on the streets. When you’re out there in the streets of New York City, D.C., Barcelona, Caracas, et cetera, it can be a little sketchy sometimes with all the camera gear. Anything can happen the moment you go out on the streets. I know of people getting jacked just for some change.y to emulate their style. If it looked cool in the photo, I wanted to go learn that trick. I think videos might have had a bigger impact. But before videos it was mainly magazines.

What is one of the most interesting experiences you have had on the job?

Just craziness on the streets. When you’re out there in the streets of New York City, D.C., Barcelona, Caracas, et cetera, it can be a little sketchy sometimes with all the camera gear. Anything can happen the moment you go out on the streets. I know of people getting jacked just for some change.