For 6 years now Steven Levas has been pushing to be a photo intern. We first got introduced back in 2008 when I was the photographer at Black Box. Oddly enough he tracked me down through talking to my aunt during a whale watching excursion, and he was looking to be a photo intern. Pretty damn random. I think it was this random recommendation that made me wary of the sparky eager-beaver photographer kid from Encinitas, plus he was still only in high school. Fast forward several years, we kept in contact, and he’s grown up a lot not only as a person, but also as a solid photographer. With a penchant for shooting film and learning the hard way, Steven’s perseverance is paying off. If there’s one trait of being a skate photographer that can’t be taught it’s persistence. After years of due diligence Steven recently finished up his photo internship at TWS, and no doubt will continue to be out in the streets making a name for himself as a photographer. So check out what Squidphoto’s got in his Proof Sheet. He earned it.—Joey Shigeo
How long have you been shooting skating and what got you into it? Well I grew up around skateboarding. When I was one, my neighbor would roll down his driveway with me on his skateboard. Ever since then I was hooked. Back in high school I’d go out every weekend on all-day skate missions with my friends and we had a friend who would film but no one had a camera to shoot photos so I found my dad’s old Olympus OM10 and that was the start of my obsession.
Is there one photograph or photographer that inspired you to take up photography?
Probably Joey Shigeo and my good friend Greg Zamarripa. Shigeo’s photos have always stood out to me and I still get excited to see new work from him. Greg is the man, he hasn’t picked up a digital camera (other than his iPhone) in years, he has his own darkroom in his laundry room that we sometimes spend all night printing in and its always fun going through his negatives because he has thousands, Greg is for sure one of the most talented guys I’ve ever met and produces astonishing images.
What’s the best and worst advice you’ve been given on photography?
Best advice: Shoot film.
Worst advice: More like worst quote I’ve heard from a photographer arguing film against digital, “I can shoot 1000 pictures on a card and just choose the best photos later, with film you only get 36, 24, 12, or even 10 exposures on a roll of film.” Yeah I can see how that’s convenient and don’t get me wrong, digital is key in this day and age because of the speed that media moves at, but film makes us slow down, be more cautious and really think about what we’re trying to take a photo of.
Do you have a favorite photo of your own?
What advice would you give to up and coming skate photogs?
Get out there, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people, a big part of the skateboarding industry is knowing the right people. Own your work, you have to be proud of what you have produced because if your not stoked on it, they won’t be either.
Do you prefer digital or film?
What’s in your camera bag? Favorite piece of gear?
70-200mm f2.8 IS II
24-105 f4 IS
Hasselblad 500C/M with 80mm f2.8
Pentax67and 6 Pentax Lenses
My favorite gear I have is my Pentax 67 because I love the 6×7 format and the depth of field it has. Also my Olympus XA because I can fit it in my pocket and take it everywhere with me.
Being an intern at TWS for the past four months, what have been some take-away lessons that you’ve learned from the experience?
Joey has shown me a lot of little technical things about shooting photos better, I’ve also been very grateful to work with the entire staff at TWS, It’s impressive to see how they do what they do!
Your photography website if you have one:
Check out the gallery below for some of Steven’s choice shots: