The dude cuffs his pants, would rather shoot a kickflip in an intersection, than off a building, and obviously I assumed his glasses were non-prescription. It was almost upsetting realizing how genuine Jacob Romero is. We’d found common ground in things like art, psychology, and other things less funny than trend bashing. He doesn’t really stop smiling, and talking highly on all aspects of life. Of course I’ve tried relentlessly to turn him into another cynic, but I guess he looks at life the way he looks through his lens, originally. As lost on his positivity as I am, his photos turn out undeniably unique. It’s a game of Where’s Waldo, figuring out which tree, building, crack in a wall, Jacob is hiding. Remarkably enough, he’s realized a path to progression and individuality, by not jumping on an existing one, and that’s exactly what skateboarding needs more of.—John Hill
How long have you been shooting skating and what got you into it?
I’ve been shooting skateboarding for about four years now. It started my senior year of high school when I took a photo class out of curiosity. I was lucky enough to have a teacher who recognized that I had a genuine interest in photography. While the other students were being lectured she’d let me hang out in the darkroom and develop my own film. I had already been skating for six years at that point, and once I found photography those two passions naturally became intertwined.
Is there one photograph or photographer that inspired you to take up photography?
I couldn’t narrow it down to one particular person or photograph but I constantly find inspiration amongst fellow up and coming dudes. Some of whom are Proof Sheet alumni! Sube, Papke, and Strand are amazing! Seeing their talent consistently motivates and inspires me.
What’s the best and worst advice you’ve been given on photography?
Best: Don’t be afraid to break the “rules” of photography; The only ones who care about that stuff are the photo nerds. As long as you and your subject are happy with it, that’s all that matters.
Worst: A lot of the bad advice sort of weeds itself out after awhile because regardless of what it is I’m still doing what I love.
Do you have a favorite photo of your own?
A favorite photo of my own would probably be Nate’s Nosepick in SF. It was shot at Battery Crosby (the bank spot with the view of the Golden Gate Bridge). As soon as we showed up I shot it from the obvious angle and knew I wanted to challenge myself to shoot it a little more creatively. I remember just before the road trip I packed an old 200mm prime that I never used, so with that in mind I attached the prehistoric 200 and shot the photo.
What’s the most interesting story behind one of your photos?
Oh man there’s so many great stories! One of my favorites to tell is the story of Maurice’s switch noseslide. One of my friends spent an entire night removing a chain that covered the curved rail so he could skate it. So I drove out to LA to shoot it and my friend who wanted to skate it ended up bailing. So I called my filmer friend Jason Malley who was already there with a crew. As soon as he answered he was ecstatic, “They’re skating it now! Get over here!” So I showed up mid session and I saw Maurice there without a board just hanging out hyping up the rest of the crew. A few tricks went down and Maurice started to look at the rail. After trying out everyone’s board the only one he was comfortable with was Jason’s filmer board. (Which was a Zip Zinger mind you) So he grabbed Jason’s board, switched off the filmer wheels and switch noseslid the rail in five tries. Maurice is seriously one talented dude.
What advice would you give to up and coming skate photogs?
Don’t wait for opportunities to present themselves to you, sometimes you have to create the opportunities for yourself. Even more important than that I’d say just have fun! Someday you’ll be able to look at these photos and revel in all the wonderful times you’ve had.
Do you prefer digital or film?
I have an appreciation for both. Film photography is more genuine in some respect. With film you actually are required to have some camera knowledge, whereas anyone can grab a DSLR and take a picture. I totally love the convenience of digital though, so that’s what I prefer for the time being.
What’s in your camera bag?
Currently I have a Nikon D7000, 35mm, The awkward 43-86mm, 8mm Fisheye, 200mm, 3 Pocketwizard Plus X’s, and two SB700’s.