Legendary Transworld photographer, Grant Brittain, has taken some of the most iconic images in skateboarding's history. And recently, he's been going through is archives in efforts to finally put a book out of his best and most memorable images. Skatenerds rejoice! Through the process he's even been posting some unseen and rare old gold on Instagram teasing all of us that grew up on his photography. This made me want to go and grab a few of his lesser known images from his archives to put in print for possibly the first time, and fortunately, Grant was game. So, feast your eyes on a few gems from yesteryear that we dug up. And most importantly, respect to Grant for documenting skateboarding for over thirty plus years and helping make skateboarding look cool as hell. Be on the lookout for his first book coming soon.
Introduction by Jaime Owens
Tod Swank was my darkroom assistant back in 1987. We were together a lot during those days, and one day I needed his “skate skills” for this idea I had. I would drive by this shadowed wall every morning in Del Mar to get coffee at The Pannikin, and thought it would make a great background for a skate photo.
I wasn’t sure what trick to shoot? We shot two rolls of Tri-X film and were just kind of messing around and ended up going with one of the pushes. I showed the photo to David Carson, the Art Director at Transworld at the time, and he wanted to use it for a cover without cover blurbs, which were all the rage back then. We presented the idea to the rest of the mag crew and they hated it! There were just too many standard rules being broken, no peak action, no guy in the sky, no day glow 80s colors and the skater wasn’t a pro. I had a hissy fit and left for a couple of days and then somehow it ended up as the cover. When it came out it was definitely a polarizing cover; the readers either hated it or loved it. The funny thing is that this cover would not even raise an eyebrow in the modern skate world. It's quite tame by today's standards.
I misplaced this negative that I shot of Steve Caballero’s backside boneless in the Square section of the Upland Combi in 1983. It simply vanished. It might have run very small in an old Transworld mag, can’t remember, maybe not? I was going through my archive in my garage a couple of summers ago and noticed an upside negative out of place in a plastic negative sleeve. I practically screamed while jumping into my car, driving down to Chrome Digital and getting a massive scan of it before anything could happen to it again.
Schoolyards in 1987 were the weekend go-to for skateboarding, and nothing has changed really since then. What happens when you shoot a session with Mark Gonzales, Natas Kaupas, Mike Vallely, Tod Swank, Steve Rocco and Jesse Martinez at Jerabek School, code name, School XYZ? You get a few cool shots on a couple of strips of film of a few friends sliding a flat bar on the way out.
The Fallbrook ramp was the vert testing ground in 1988 and every vert pro and am from around the world made a pilgrimage to Tobin White’s ramp in an avocado grove in Fallbrook, CA. By this time, all of the 80s skateparks were bulldozed and there were only a few vert ramps scattered around. Mark Gonzales is mainly known for his street skills, but he was equally adept to vertical terrain. This backside Ollie was never published, what was wrong with us?
Natas Kaupas was one of the guys to be shooting photos of back in the mid to late 80s, and this was one of the days that I'm glad I was there. One has to remember that this was state of the art street skating, Natas, Gonz and Guerrero were inventing stuff. Tommy G and Mike V were here at this San Pasqual High School session and I have equally great shots of them. Natas’ striped pants put it further over the top.