Over the last twenty years the world of skateboarding has changed greatly because of the exposure it has had through media. The originators of this media were skate magazines that highlighted many photographers and their talents. The photographs from twenty years ago were using nothing but a cheap old 35 mm and came up with some incredible artistic shots. But those old cameras have been replaced by today's photographers with the top of line cameras and lenses. The top two magazines in the skateboarding world today are Thrasher and Transworld Skateboarding magazine. Both of these magazines have been around since the early 80's and have covered every angle of skateboarding that's possible.
Transworld has adopted an annual edition of there magazine for just photographs on every page and no articles. In the 2001 edition many photographers were interviewed and asked about their inspirations and there gear. Ryan Gee, a photographer out of Philadelphia, said "My first camera was some piece-of-crap Mamiya I found around '92, today I'm using a Hasselblad 501 CM, and a Canon EOS 1 N RS", most photographers in the skate industry today are using a camera like the Canon 1 N for shooting sequences of the more technical skateboard tricks. Some of these photographers also carry around a medium format camera like a Hasselblad for stills because of the great images that format creates. For lenses everyone seems to use a 15 mm fisheye for those up close in the action shots and a good zoom telephoto for those long view shots. Fisheye shot, by Ryan Gee Telephoto shot, by Ryan Gee Photographers like Ryan Gee know that without the photographers from the 80's they would not be doing what they are doing now.
One huge inspiration in the industry would have to Spike Jonze. Jonze started out shooting photos of all the top pros for Transworld Magazine and became their senior photographer around the late 80's. He then decided to get involved in the business side of skateboarding by starting one of today's biggest brands, Girl Skateboards. Today many people know him as a music video director and major movie director.
He has also been nominated for an Oscar for his direction on "Being John Malkovich." But he has always looked back at his skateboarding photography as his biggest influence and achievements. Spike Jonze Other influences on the industry would be Skin Phillips, Daniel Sturt, and Grant Brittain. Most of these photographers have had no formal training in the field but had just taught themselves from trial and error. By Skin Phillips No one in the skateboarding photo world today is bigger than Atiba Jefferson. His unique pictures have landed him jobs with everyone from Transworld to the LA Lakers. He started out using a Nikita in the early 90's and today uses Canon 1 V with a 15 mm and a 70-200 mm.
For those night shots he uses Sunpak flashes and pocket wizards for great flash photography. Here is a great photo by Atiba using those flashes. Another photo by Atiba this time using the fisheye lens. The creativity and techniques shown in these pictures show just how a photographer can capture an image and tell a story.
With skateboarding or any other high speed or action sport the action is what is important and what these photographers have done is taken that action and made into something artistic and creative.