Proof Sheet: Bryan O’Neill

I met Bryan at The Wire spot in Baltimore a few years ago. We have been shooting photos ever since. Bryan is talented at everything he does. He’s a silent killer when it comes to his photography. He’s always the dude that is wandering around on the roof while everyone else is checking out the spot. He inspired me to get a camera and start shooting photos and now it’s my favorite thing to do. I actually bought his old camera. Soon enough his hard work will pay off! Keep killing it dawg!—Matt Bullinger

How old are you and where do you live right now?
22, living in Bel Air, Maryland.

How long have you been shooting skating and what got you into it?
I’m going to say probably four or five years. I was just getting interested in photography and messing around with a point and shoot. I had recently moved to Maryland and then bought a DSLR, so I started bringing it to the local park. I met people and shot as many photos as possible and it all took off from there.

Is there one photograph or photographer that inspired you to take up photography?
Well I remember when I first started skating I was given a subscription to TWS as a birthday present and would save all the issues and pin up pictures and posters from them all the time. I’m pretty sure I still have a couple years’ worth stacked in my basement somewhere. So most of my early inspiration probably came from there, but by the time I was really getting engrossed in skate photography I was looking a lot at Aarto Saari’s photos as well as a local photographer Alex Wein’s.

What’s the best and worst advice you’ve been given on photography?
Best: get closer
Worst: “You should shoot weddings.”

Do you have a favorite photo of your own?

Skatology team.
Skatology team.

The whole Skatology team got together to shoot something for the title page of Just Givr and this is what we ended up with. Everyone was just having fun and I think it shows that’s exactly what skateboarding is all about.

What’s the most interesting story behind one of your photos?

Chance Hogue, 360 flip.
Chance Hogue, 360 flip.

We had a few cars worth of people skating this bump on North Ave in Baltimore while Chance was trying to shoot this 360 flip photo. Usually the people in Baltimore are fairly friendly and won’t hassle you, but that day there was this one young guy incoherently telling us we couldn’t be in his neighborhood and how he was going to get his gun and blow our heads off. We ignored him and kept shooting as he walked up to everyone else trying to intimidate them, they all basically laughed in his face. When we finally left he threw pebbles at Chance’s car. He was awful.

What advice would you give to up and coming skate photogs?
Don’t be afraid to ask people to do tricks more than once. If you think you can improve the shot never hesitate, they will thank you when it comes out perfect. Also don’t get too hung up on gear. If you can help it, focus first on improving before worrying about expensive lenses and strobes. I’m still struggling through a 1/180th flash sync and $30 transceivers.

What’s unique about shooting in your area?
Shooting in Baltimore is great because you get a nice mix of weird, old, crusty playground things, industrial wasteland, and just generally interesting stuff. Almost every spot needs bondo and when shooting fisheye there’s a 50/50 chance you’re laying in dried piss/blood/vomit but that just adds to the feel of the city. There’s also a nice variety of styles and really good skateboarders so shooting is always different.

Do you prefer digital or film?
I prefer digital since it’s just so much more convenient. I always bring a 35mm SLR with me but hardly use it for skateboarding. I work in the darkroom at my college so I’ve spent a lot of time processing and printing in there but somehow film has never translated well to skateboarding for me. Hopefully in the future I’ll get my hands on a Bronica or something and maybe it’ll click.

What’s in your camera bag?
Pentax K-5 + grip
Tamron 28-75
Rokinon 8mm
Tamron 28-200
Yongnuo yn560-III
2x Vivitar 285hv
minolta 32 flash
4x cowboy studio receivers
Minolta XG7

Your photography website if you have one:

Bryan O'Neill, self portrait.
Bryan O’Neill, self portrait.

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