Still Life: Muller’s Favorite Am Photos

Growing up in LA as a skateboarder and photographer, there were always so many amazing and talented people around, both on the board and off. I had the pleasure of watching a few of my favorite skateboarders come into their own over the past few years as I was learning the ropes as well.—Sam Muller


John Fitzgerald, frontside boardslide
John had already landed this front board at La Cañada High School a few weeks before, but hadn't shot a photo of it yet. I expected him to try to lock a few—why would anyone want to fully commit to that again? As soon as he started trying it, he was trying to land it. He stuck a few before nearly getting completely worked and decided to give up. It's rad to see someone so hyped to just be on his skateboard.


Raven Tershy, frontside ollie to wallride
El Chocolate Tour in early 2012 was one of the first trips I'd been on with Raven, and it was non-stop full-blown ripping. He had gotten on Chocolate a few months before and was really psyched to be on the trip with everyone. This was on the first night of the trip. Shortly after we got this photo Elijah came close to falling off a 10-story roof and we all got arrested. I'll definitely never forget taking this photo.

Elijah Berle, frontside nosegrind
I've known Elijah since he was 11 and lived with him for almost half that time. He used to be a little guy wearing clothes way too big for him barely getting kickflips off the ground—so watching him transform, almost over night, into the powerful, awesome skateboarder he is today was rad. This nosegrind from when he was 15 was first try, and he's only gotten better since then.

Na-kel Smith, backside Smith grind
Na-kel is one of my favorite people to watch skate. You can tell he's having so much fun, and he can ninja roll out of a sketchy bail. He's got so much control, it's almost scary—shooting this back Smith with anyone else would've been pretty sketchy, but even though I was two feet away from his front truck, he never came close to hitting me. He'll be around for a long time, so get used to it.

Adrian Adrid, frontside feeble grind

This spot is on the corner of one of the more major cross streets in LA. Everybody has driven by it countless times, but nobody gets to skate it because it’s the headquarters of Sony music and the security doesn’t really have a sense of humor. Somehow Adrian got more than 0 tries for this front feeble—five isn’t that many, but it was more than enough for him. I’ve known Adrian for years and he’s been amazing and getting better the whole time, it’s nice to finally see him get some of the love he deserves.

Dan Lutheran, backside noseblunt-slide

The first time I saw Daniel was at this really steep, sketchy rail in Hollywood. Despite the sketchiness, between every try he was cracking jokes and talking to his friends. Usually in situations like that, you can feel the tension in the air, but Dan eliminated all of that. He ended up five-Oing the rail a few times with an unfaltering smile on his face. It’s awesome to skate with someone like Daniel because it reminds me of skating when I was a kid, before it got serious.

Kevin Bradley, kickflip
My friend Richard had told me about little Kevin long before I met him. He told me how good this little kid that he knew was and that I needed to skate with him. I didn’t run into Kev for a few months after first hearing about him, but when I first met him (at a house party filled with people in their 20s—Kevin was 13) I knew he was the man. He’s not afraid to be himself, and that confidence shines in his skating as well. Expect great things from him, he won’t disappoint.
Nate Broussard, frontside flip
Nate Broussard has been so damn good for so damn long. I met him after One Step Beyond and Static III had come out, and I had been a huge fan of his since I first saw those parts.  He moved out to LA from Texas and I started skating with him and my friend Matt who had known him from living in Texas. I remember the first time I saw him skate in person, floating around popping tricks waist high without any effort. The day he tried this frontside flip, I was floored. Every try was a few inches higher than the one before, but somehow looked easier. That’s how Nate does it, so casually that you don’t even notice the amount of power he puts in.
Ryan Spencer, bluntslide
Ryan Spencer is a man of many talents. I first met Ryan because we were both camera nerds into shooting skate photos. I met up with him one day to skate Costa Mesa park with my friend Tim from Australia, who was also a photographer, and happened to bring all of my camera shit with me. I knew Ryan could skate, but I had no idea what I was in for. The whole day turned into me and Tim shooting photos of Ryan, instead of skating, because he was ripping so hard. That was probably 7 or 8 years ago, so I think I succeeded in convincing Ryan not to steal my job and to focus on skating. Bullet dodged.
Nick Garcia, noseblunt-slide
This was the first photo I shot of Nick. I was interning at TWS, and was asked to get a photo of him for the am issue. This was right after Nick had won a contest that got him on Element so he was really down to skate and shoot photos. It was an awesome experience because we were both just starting our ‘careers’ so we were both really excited and down to do whatever it took to get this done. Not many people had done tricks on this rail then, so when he told me he wanted to try to noseblunt it, I was really hyped. For some reason this photo was never published, but it’ll always remind me of the beginning. Thanks Nick!
Julian Davidson, frontside bluntslide
This photo was taken on a trip up to Element Skate Camp near Visalia, California with some of the Element team and a lot of the TWS crew. We had planned to hit a few skateparks on the drive up, and maybe a spot or two if we had the time, but it wasn’t a certainty. After a few sweltering skatepark sessions, someone remembered that this out rail was in Fresno, so for shits and giggles we decided to check it out. No joke, within 30 minutes of us pulling up to the spot, Julian had ridden away from this front blunt. You could just see the determination in his face, and it was awesome. We then made our way up to the mountains for an epic weekend of beers, campfires and shredding. It’s not a trip I’ll forget any time soon.
Tom Karangelov, feeble grind
I’ve known Tom for almost as long as I’ve known Ryan because they lived near each other in Costa Mesa/Huntington Beach and always skated together. They’ve always had a competitive thing going on and it’s been eventful watching it unfold. They were always pushing each other to get better, so it’s not surprising to see how good Tom is. He finally started to get some love after winning Slap‘s One in a Million, and has been on the rise ever since. It’s safe to say the future will hold good things for Tommy boy.