(Above) The Olympic Park in Montreal is either from the future or one architect's '70s idea of what the future would be like. Anthony Schultz made use of that vision and rides on the wall! The future is now.
They're everywhere--on the streets, in the parks, and all around your school. Kids filming and shooting with their iPhones. Back in the '90s you had to know a kid who had a half-decent camera and befriend him to film your sponsor-me tape or you had to become the kid who obviously wasn't cutting it, so you picked up a photo camera and started shooting your squad (I was the latter). The level of quality on phones is getting insane, and one day, a conversation between Russell Houghten and me about iPhones spawned an idea: Could we go out on a trip and only use phones to capture it all? Working within the limitations could prove interesting, maybe even disastrous, but we decided it might be worth it to see if we could put out a quality product shot exclusively on the iPhone 6.
Words & Photos by Ryan Allan
Russell pitched the idea to New Balance Numeric, and since NB has always given each video project a new spin, it was a no-brainer for them. Russell also put together a pitch and sent it off to Apple. I mean, who wants to shoot on their old iPhone 5 when the 6 is out now. Teen girls would point and laugh at us. We were both a bit skeptical that we would even get a response to the pitch seeing as…
A) It was just a small project based around a bunch of perceived degenerates skateboarding illegally, B) The pitch went out about two weeks before we were supposed to leave on the trip, and C) This is Apple we are talking about. Do they really need the press?
Much to our shock, Apple was super down and hooked up the gear we needed to make it happen. Russell also reached out to Moment Lenses, makers of high-end add-on lenses for iPhones, and they sent out some great wide-angle and telephoto lenses for us to use.
The premise of the trip was to shoot with the iPhone 6 in a way that was consistent with our style. We could have gone out and just snapped away like any random tourist when spotting a celeb on Melrose, but we wanted to make sure we were staying true to our own personal aesthetic. Therein lies the challenge: Does the tool dictate the photo's style or does the photographer?
We decided to travel to Canada seeing as I am from there and would know the zones pretty well. So we got the crew together and set out to shred Montreal, Quebec City, and Toronto.
Montreal is a killer city for skateboarding. It has a solid downtown and also has a bunch of great architecture, so the visuals are amazing. I mean, it has the place with the giant boob roller bumps. You know the one, every time you see it you think, "Where is that?!" Of course it also has the Parc Olympique with the Big O halfpipe and skateable roof. There is just so much to skate there. Also, Dime is based there so... You get it.
Russell decided to bring large reflectors and a lot of other gear to help him get the shots to look their best. On one occasion while shooting in an alley, we had reflectors bouncing light all over. An impressed local walking through the alley said something to the effect of, "Whoa, this is a real production," but just as he finished his sentence, he saw that there were no major cameras on this production. Just a bunch of guys with iPhones. He looked pretty underwhelmed, and it seemed as though he wished he could have retracted his previous statement. It's funny how much the perception of the camera effects people's opinion of your professional status. I guess that's why everyone ran out and bought the RED... Ohhh, snap!
Quebec City was just a short stopover for us but proved to have more spots than I remembered. The last time I was there it was the tall-T capital of the world ,and this may have caused me to judge the city harshly. Going to Quebec is like visiting a much closer Europe. The streets look old and the buildings even older. It's pretty ideal for a photo/video project. We found a bunch of cool cutty old-world spots and some great hill bombs. Levi banged out a pretty impressive 360 flip in the middle of a popular tourist area, and not one person even looked at us like we shouldn't be there. Maybe it's easier to be low-key with just iPhones? It definitely makes cruising from spot to spot way more fun.
Toronto is wise to the tricks of skateboarders. This is my hometown, and I knew going in that it would be tricky. Security in Toronto has been dealing with skaters almost as long as security in LA. All the old distract-and-divide techniques weren't working. I think the guards were even kind of laughing at us for trying them.
We tried several times to skate spots in the downtown core, but since night skating was out of the question (we opted against lighting up spots in keeping with the idea of a simple iPhone session), so it was pretty tough. Luckily the city has a ton on its outer edges, and we managed to dig up some gems.
There are definitely benefits to skating with such a small setup for filming and shooting photos. It was really freeing to have all my gear in my pocket. No longer being the lagger a block behind everyone as they cruise down the city streets. No longer the guy who security hangs out with while I pack up my gear. Sure, there were some limitations. I felt a little bit stressed as the sun was getting low, knowing that in the alleyways where most spots end up being, the light would assuredly be nonexistent. In a way it reminded me of my film days. If I rolled out with only 100 ISO film, I would be in the same boat. "Sorry, homie. I can't shoot this today. Let's come back when there's more light." I haven't said that one in 14 years. I'm sure a lot of you reading this already know all of this stuff. You've been out shooting with your phones for ages. I'm actually excited to see where all this goes. I'd rather be on the side of progress than clutching to memories of what once was.
Peep the footy here!