What better way to prepare your palate for Civic Affair this Friday than with some choice photos of the crew from Vancouver based photographer Keith Henry? While some of the more worldly skate aficionado’s out there may already recognize his work from Canada’s King Shit magazine, you’ll have a further chance to familiarize yourself with Keith this Friday… he’s got the meanest flick in the video! –Luke Callahan
How long have you been shooting skating and what got you into it?
I’ve been shooting skating for about eight or nine years. I got into it through shooting everything and eventually the skateboarders around me. I’m from a small town so my options were pretty limited. Moving to a bigger city definitely helped.
Is there one photograph or photographer that inspired you to take up photography?
I wouldn’t necessarily say one photograph, but more of a body of work. The late Nathan Matthews was a big inspiration to me because he shot in the city an hour from my home town. The subjects were local, and I could visit the spots when I’d go on day trips with my family. He was my mentor, and the reason I shoot the way I do to this day. Scott Pommier and Brian Gaberman were also a big influence on me and I’m sure most other photographers would say the same thing. They’re simply the best.
How did you end up linking up with the guys from Civic Affair?
I’d known Jake Kuzyk for about four years since he moved to Vancouver. I met him through Tyler Gaucher who I met from skating the Plaza every day. All the other guys in the video I met through skating also. The majority of them are Alberta boys like myself and we just seemed to click. I like the way they skate, we hang out every day, so it’s just second nature to shoot these guys.
Dustin Henry, 50-50 (from the lastest King Shit cover).
How has living in Vancouver influenced you as a photographer?
It’s helped me be more creative and more picky with who I shoot. I’m a firm believer that a good photograph can be of anything if you’re with the right person. Finding new angles, shooting interesting spots, and trying to not do what has already been done has been a nice challenge for me. Another big influence was going into the magazine offices and meeting the people behind the scenes. David Christian, Dylan Doubt, Brian Caissie, and Gordon Nicholas were always good to bounce ideas off and get a new perspective on how to shoot. I owe a lot to those guys.
What’s the best and worst part about shooting in Vancouver?
The best part would have to be the mild weather year-round and the accessibility to the United States. The worst part would have to be the amount of spots that are ruined by skate stoppers and shitty ground.
Who’s your favorite to shoot and why?
It changes all the time, but my favorite to shoot lately has been Ben Blundell. Style is everything.
What’s the best and worst advice you’ve been given on photography?
The best advice I’ve gotten was from Nathan Matthews. He said (in regards to fisheye), if you think you’re too close, you’re just right. The worst advice, I can’t really recall. I think any advice is good advice, you just need to add your twist on it.
What advice would you give to up and coming skate photogs?
Shoot everything, actually skateboard if that’s what you want to shoot, and don’t be a kook. I got to where I am because I simply just skateboarded and surrounded myself with good people. Take constructive criticisms and work with them. Analyze your photographs, see what you like and don’t like about them, and be aware of these points for the next time you go shooting. Everybody fucks up a photo or two; it’s bound to happen. The most important point however is to ask questions. If you see somebody’s work you admire, don’t be afraid to ask them questions about their work. Send them an email, talk to them in person, do whatever you can to gain information. It never hurts to ask.
Do you have a favorite photo of your own?
This changes all the time, but I’d have to say the one I’m most proud of is the Skylar Kehr ride-on 5-0. I think we went back to shoot that three times because I kept fucking up the film. I was borrowing a Hasselblad from Dylan Doubt at the time, and I wasn’t too familiar with how to use it. We got kicked out, the film unravelled on me once, I loaded the film backwards another time, and finally nailed it after all that. I like the scale of it; how you can see cars underneath that have no idea what’s happening above them. I shot it from a parking garage across the street, and it’s one of the most basic photos I’ve shot to date. No flashes, no fancy tilts, just a basic photo.
Skylar Kehr, ride-on 5-0.
Do you prefer digital or film?
Film for the look and feel. Digital for it’s convenience. If I’m not shooting skating, I pretty much exclusively shoot film. I feel like with digital, it’s too instantaneous and you lose that sense of wonder and excitement from getting a roll of film back from the lab.
What’s in your camera bag? What’s your go-to set up?
Lately I’ve just been bringing a body, a fisheye and a standard prime lens around. That’s my go-to setup. Sometimes I’ll bring flashes, sometimes I’ll bring the Hasselblad, but I mostly keep it simple. I have to skate around all day with my gear so I try and pack light.
I don’t have a photograph of it, but I ran into a guy near Powell station in SF selling “King Shit Clothing”. At the time, I worked for King Shit magazine and asked if I could get some photographs of Tyler Warren holding up some of the product. The dude was down, and I told him I worked for the mag which he seemed to be pretty hyped on. I texted the photo to my boss who then put it up on the Kingshit instagram which the guy tracked down. When he saw us talking shit on him in the post, he went back a few weeks on Tyler’s Instagram account and commented on one of his photos saying “If I see you in SF you gon’ be mad”. He kept messaging King Shit on Facebook calling us all sorts of shit, and I knew I’d eventually have to deal with this guy. A few days later I saw him from across the street. I approached him from his blindside and took him by surprise. I made him look me face to face and shake my hand. I didn’t know who he knew, and I didn’t want any trouble. I was sweating for a few days, but I’m glad it got squashed and I didn’t have to watch my back at all times. There’s a lot of crazy people down there. Canada is so chill [laughs].
Any upcoming projects we can keep our eyes peeled for?
I’m freelance now, so I’ll be submitting all over the place. Keep your eyes peeled for a new Antisocial project in the works. I’ll be shooting that stuff, and working on other photo stuff outside of skating. I’m stoked for what’s to come.