Cameron Strand’s love affair with skateboarding started 1996 in Brighton, Michigan. It was the old Kmart clunker board and some driveway wooden ramps, much like most of us. Eventually, an old hand-me-down camera from his pops is what got the photography ball rolling, and Cameron took a purist’s route of learning the basics before adding quirky lenses and strobes to his gear bag.
August of 2011 saw Cameron moving smack dab in the heart of Orange County, Newport Beach to be exact, to start his internship (and a nasty commute) at TransWorld. When not out at all hours trying to capture skate photos in the concrete jungle, you might catch Cameron on the local mountains (dude was a sponsored snowboarder back home), combing the urban sprawl for new skatespots, or indulging his inner foodie at a newly discovered restaurant.
Cameron has been an incredible asset to us here in the office—whether we need a sharp skate photo in a pinch, or professional product shots, he handles it with a smile—he’s a genuine pleasure to be around (all you hopeful future interns out there, take note!). So it’s only right we launch this emerging photographer feature with him. Welcome to Cameron Strand’s Proof Sheet.—Blair Alley
How long have you been shooting skating and what got you into it?
I’ve been shooting skating for around six years now. The first three years were spent behind my dads hand-me-down Canon FT-B. No Flashes and no fisheye. I was always fascinated by composition and making the elements of a photo work together in congruence with the way the light was so I made it a point to know what I was doing (or so I thought) before I introduced flashes or other lenses into the equation. The way I got into shooting skating was probably just like a lot of other photographers though. You go out and you’re not good enough to get filmed but you still want to be around your friends and in the mix so you pick up a camera. Video work never interested me when I was young but as I’ve grown up, I’ve wanted to start filming along with shooting photos.
Is there one photograph or photographer that inspired you to take up photography?
I don’t know if this will sound weird or not, but depth-of-field really intrigued me in the beginning and continues to do so. Also, I was never very good at any other “arts” that involved pencils or paints and I wanted to keep the creative spark alive, so I decided to take up photography. Aside from that, [Brian] Gaberman was a huge influence. His colors, his compositions and his use of light have always been next level to me. Lately I’ve been really inspired by
a lot of large-format documentary-style photographers. My friend Aleksey Kondratyev does really good work.
What's the best and worst advice you've been given on photography?
As far as skate photography goes, I’ve been told by multiple sources that you always have to be down. Down to stay up late. Down to drive. Down to maybe get a ticket. Down to hang. Be be open to anything and everything that comes your way. I guess just go with the flow and always keep your eyes open. The best advice for photography is just to keep shooting, even when you don’t want to. Something might happen or you might have some weird realization that opens your mind to new possibilities or ideas. The worst advice was to give up.
Do you have a favorite photo of your own?
What's the most interesting story behind one of your photos?
I think the most relevant answer I could give would be the explanation behind the halfpipe in the middle of the highway photo.
Ever since I’ve lived in California, I’ve never really had any friends south of Long Beach so I’d always spend a lot of time on the 405 up to Los Angeles to go skate. Every time I’d go, I would pass by this concrete support made of wood that formed a perfect halfpipe. The only problem with this amazing contraption was that it was in the median of the highway with no apparent way to easily skate it. I was out with a bunch of people skating Long Beach that day and they were asking me about spots. I showed them the halfpipe and told them my idea about how I had wanted someone to skate it since the day I saw it eight months ago. Finally, Braxton Powers stepped up and said he’d be down to possibly get arrested and go for it. I had to hop fences and walk through a neighborhood while he basically drove his car right into the construction zone to get close enough to skate it. I hid behind a pile of wood and gave him hand signals of when to skate and when to hide lower than the walls. In the end, no one got arrested and no one got hurt. Personally, being in the moment and the whole process of getting to shoot it outweighed the photo itself but I’m still pretty psyched on the photo.
What advice would you give to up and coming skate photogs?
The only thing I could really say is to be nice and be motivated. Realistically though, I have no idea if I’m even doing any of this stuff right. I’m still learning and asking experienced people what needs to be done to get where they are. Skaters (and photographers alike) usually have some weird or crazy idea that they want to fulfill for a photo so you have to be down to try things out and get stuck in weird situations. Always being open to drive helps as well. And don’t blow the shot; thats key.
Do you prefer digital or film?
I’m an advocate of both. Right now I’m on a flashless digital kick. Figuring out ambient light and only using that is far more interesting than the standard “flash here, flash there” thing, although flashes do have a clear advantage at times.
What's in your camera bag?
70-200mm f4 L
x4 Pocket Wizards
x3 Sunpak 555
Hasselblad 501cm/80mm f2.8
Canon Cable Release
Sekonic Light Meter
x1 sheet metal
x1 yellow safety vest
Your photography website if you have one:
I should really make an actual website but for now I have these: