Photos of skaters in the Twin Cities that Alex shot started popping up a few years ago and I was hyped. I didn’t really know him very well, but he was always around Familia and skating the streets and also DJing a lot of parties around town. As time went on, he started documenting a lot of the good times that were going down in the scene, and we started talking more about what we could do. We had some severe weather that knocked down a bunch of trees all over the city and he shot some of the sickest photos I’ve ever seen off of bumps and sidewalks over the damaged areas. He pretty much does it all, kills it when he skates, kills it when he shoots photos, and kills it when he DJs. It’s a lot of fun to have productive people around like that in the midwest, it’s needed.—Steve Nesser

Jake Nelson, frontside Smith grind.

How long have you been shooting skating and what got you into it?
I’ve been shooting skateboarding for about ten years, I started shooting right around when I started high school and had access to a decent camera I could borrow. I’ve been skateboarding and shooting it ever since.

Is there one photograph or photographer that inspired you to take up photography?
I couldn’t choose just one photo or photographer that inspired me to shoot, it was kind of just a natural thing that happened when I started skating. It’s almost just a weird feeling about wanting to document everything.

What’s the best and worst advice you’ve been given on photography?
Just keeping a camera on you at all times is probably some of the best advice I’ve received. You can’t shoot anything if you don’t have your camera! I knew a photographer who would always say, “Light it up like a Christmas tree,” just filling the entire place with a ton of lights from every direction. That phrase just kind of stuck with me for something not to do.

What do you like shooting besides skating? Any influences from non-skate photographers?
I think my favorite thing to shoot is skateboarding, but really anything with people outside. I also love to shoot a bunch of music and party stuff. I think most photo inspiration I have is actually from non-skate photographers or artists. A few favorites are Gregory Crewdson, Charlie White, Chris Cunningham, and Matthew Barney.

Do you have a favorite photo of your own?
I’m not sure if I could choose a favorite but the cherry on the spoon backside flip has to be up there. It’s probably one of the most iconic things in Minneapolis and it was kind of always a crazy daydream for anyone to skate it, so actually getting a photo on it makes me pretty hyped every time I look at it.

Ryan Yost, backside flip.

What’s the most interesting story behind one of your photos?
There’s a few but I think the back Smith on the ramp in the barn is a whole crazy situation. That ramp was just a rumor for years while growing up. After seeing some footage to prove that it was real and a couple years of trying to figure out someone who knew directions, I finally found them. We would head out into the middle of nowhere in Wisconsin, down a handful of country roads, get lost a million times, and eventually show up at a random abandoned barn. I was sure we were at the wrong place even when we stepped in. You had to climb up a wooden ladder to the second story, and then crawl under the deck of the ramp before you could even see it. It was beautiful, and one of the best ramps I’ve ever skated. Eventually word got out that we had been skating it and on a trip back into my hometown a couple years later I ran into an older guy in the skate scene who told me not to be surprised if me or my friends end up dead in the river if he catches us there. Definitely one of the more memorable spots I’ve shot at.

Jake Nelson, backside Smith grind.

What’s the best and worst part about shooting in Minnesota?
The best part is definitely the seasons. I know sunny and 70 every day is great, but I really love spring and fall here in Minnesota, the changing seasons and weather make for a bunch of photos that couldn’t happen everywhere else. Although the winters that last almost half the year and stay below freezing for weeks at a time are a nightmare. The good thing about the long winters here is they give a great excuse to get out of here and travel around.

How has living in Minnesota influenced you as a photographer?
I feel like living here has made me work a lot harder to get a cool shot, I can’t just go out any day in perfect weather and have a million dudes trying to shoot something gnarly, it’s more premeditated, each shot is its own little mission.

Have you had any photos published in print and does print matter to you?
I’ve had a handful of photos published and it’s always kind of a rush to see them in print but it’s not really the biggest priority to me. I think images that end up online usually get more exposure anyway.

What advice would you give to up and coming skate photogs?
Don’t put up every single photo you take, or tricks that were never a landed. I’ve seen a million skate photos that were obviously a bail or have horrendous timing to the point where you can’t tell what trick it could possibly be. Skateboarding yourself and knowing how the tricks work make all the difference in trying to get a good photo of it.

Do you prefer digital or film?
I definitely embrace the newer technology. I’ll always have a soft spot for some black and white film or some Polaroids, but for me I feel like the advantages of shooting digital have surpassed film.

What’s in your camera bag? Favorite piece of gear?
A Nikon D300s; 50, 35, 18-55, and 10.5mm lens, a few old Sunpaks and Vivitar flashes with Pocket Wizards, and a bunch of extra batteries! Sometimes I’ll swap out some of the flashes for a Mamiya RZ67 to shoot some Polaroids if I feel like going au naturale.

Who’s your favorite person to shoot and why?
I don’t think I’ve really had a bad time shooting skateboarding with anybody but if I’m giving shoutouts, Greg Clover, Ricky Nunn, Tom Rohrer, and Tabari Cook are a few of my favorites to shoot with, always down to go on a mission to get a photo and always killin’ it.

What’s your favorite skate photo of all time?
One of my favorites is a shot by Patrick O’Dell. It was a photo of Chet Childress doing a backside Smith grind in a bowl that was in the process of getting destroyed by a crazy backhoe. It’s pretty much rad in every way possible.

Your photography website:
alexuncapher.com

Check out some of Alex’s choice shots in the gallery below:

Self portrait.