Tuesday, September 08, 2015

german and greek interviews

i was recently interviewed on a couple websites, one in germany and one in greece. they each have a nice little slideshow of my photos from 43 or other adventures, but the automated internet translations to english don't work so well, and while i try to answer email questions as i would in a verbal conversation, some ideas i put more thought into, and wanted to share them.

this interview is from a germany site, posted on 7/17/2015:

what excites you about the subject of the nude?
to me, being naked is liberating, like getting back to nature, and your natural, free, and wild self.
when i first swam naked as an adult, especially in the daytime, i had flashbacks to being a young child, with no worries from modern society or adulthood. i also tend to get excited to photograph people i know, or know about, in interesting or extraordinary situations, and being naked together is not that ordinary in our day to day lives.

how far would you go? are there any taboos? 
i feel comfortable photographing any naked situations i can think of off the top of my head, although i may not want to show them all publicly.

when is a nude picture considered a piece of art? 
i'm not always the greatest with the label of "art". i think i could explain a bunch of situations for what makes a picture art to me, but it would take a while, and then there would inevitably be exceptions and contradictions.

who or what inspires you? are there any photographers or artists that inspires your work?
i seem to draw inspiration from a variety of artists working in various mediums, skateboarding, dance, video, sculpture, music, documentary photography, and friends. i wouldn't name any conclusive list, but some off the top of my head are the gx1000 crew, chairlift, blood orange, and dustin yellin.

was there any mortifying moment while you were photographing? 
from these, the only one that comes to mind is when i was naked under a waterfall with a friend, i thought it was so magical i wanted to kiss her, but she pushed me away, so i'll probably never do that again.

how important is staging and coincidence for your pictures? 
it depends on the type of shoot, but i mostly prefer not staging anything. lately i don't like to ask someone to hold still for a second, or to repeat something, which can be so normal when taking fun photos with friends.

what projects or dreams would you like to fulfill in your artistic practice?
well, i'd like to get better at surfing, shooting photos, darkroom printing, and better at pretty much anything i like doing, there's always so much to improve on.


this one is from greece, 9/4/2015:

this was the first time i'd been asked to show skateboard photography alongside other photography, so i sent this brief to them:

it's important for me to explain that i value skateboard photography differently than other photographs i make. skateboard photography is very unique and nuanced. it is far more difficult and rare for all the stars to align for great skateboarding to happen, and to be able to make a good a photo that can communicate the magic that is happening. there are countless sessions where it doesn’t all come together, and then once in a while it does. i also feel skateboard photography holds much more weight and significance to a growing population of skateboarders. to me, the photos are part of a greater history and movement, resonating messages to younger generations about pushing boundaries, questioning authority, and countering mainstream culture.

the photos of my friends, we’re having a great time escaping the city hustle. just by snapping photos here and there, there’s easily a bunch of fun photos, and you could make tons more if you sat on the sidelines and just photographed.

what makes these photos special to me are how remarkable these friends are, and the experiences that manifest when we adventure together. each of them is so unique and talented, with various pursuits in the city life, but they are also super down to venture out and monkey around in nature in a way that really opens us up to be free and weird together. we’re not the only ones out there, but finding friends that vibe with your nuanced style of exploration can be pretty rare. it wasn’t too long ago that this wasn’t part of my life, so i hope these photos can inspire others to make adventures happen.

the photos i’ve included here aren’t intended to wholly illustrate this story; the nudity is just part of the freedom we sometimes express, and these just happen to be some of my current favorite standalone photos from our escapes.

tell us a little bit about the idea behind 43 magazine.
the idea behind 43 magazine is for skateboarding to have a magazine it deserves, that helps guide it in a good direction. skateboarding is a beautiful and magical force. it can have a profound impact on one’s life, but it’s grown into this crazy commercial thing that takes so much away from what’s so great about it, and how it influences people in their early teen, formative years. beyond aesthetics, there are multiple layers of ideas that 43 stands for, and it could take quite some more elaboration to explain it all. the key ideas are written in our mission statement, and about pages on our website, and the rest hopefully translates to people when they see the magazine.

what makes a good skate magazine?
good and sensible photography, writing, design, theory, and purpose for existence.

43 is an independent, non-profit, skateboard magazine. how easy it is to survive in a competitive market environment?
it isn’t easy to go against so much of what skateboarding is doing, for example not allowing corporations like nike, converse, adidas and levis to advertise their skateboard programs, when the rest of skateboarding seems to be accepting their money in exchange for street crediblity and condoning their involvement in skateboarding.

tell us about the team of 43 magazine. what kind of people include it in your team? only skaters?
other than the contributing photographers and writers, we have a fully volunteer crew. cole giordano is the managing editor, and a few people help for things like scanning or design consultation. I think the only non-skater is our copy editor, christina cheung.

what is the most vibrant memory from your childhood about skateboarding?

i have many. lately the one that stick out is skating midtown manhattan at night when I was 15 or 16. having grown up 45 minutes north of manhattan, in a smaller city, white plains, it was such a unique site to be cruising around all these giant buildings semi-late at night.

make a top 5 of your favorite skateboarders and a short comment for everyone.
i don’t really do top lists, it’s hard to have favorite people when there are so many people.

tell us about your favorite spot in new york for skateboarding.
one of my favorites was tompkins square park, it’s a very basic flat ground meetup, skate, chill, communal spot.

as your opinion, what is the hardest skateboard trick and why? 
this is obviously a question written by someone who doesn’t skateboard.

tell us a little about your friendship with bryan derballa.
we met in san francisco in 2000. I was 17, and I went for 2 weeks to stay with some older guys from where I grew up, and skate and check out the vibe of the city. he remembers more details than I do, but I just remember meeting him and going around to spots together to try to shoot photos – I was just trying to teach myself skateboard photography. we skated a few days and I stayed over in his dorm room in berkeley. we met up once briefly in SF again in the mid 2000s. he moved to new york a few years later, but we didn’t hang too much, I was off shooting skate photos mostly, and he was i think starting to pursue professional photography. a few years ago we reconnected through more mutual skate friends who are also into cameras and swimming in nature.

think yourself as a time traveler who met your 16-year-old self. what would you say to him?
i used to really like those tv shows and movies that had time travel, like the simpons halloween episode where homer has a toaster that is a time machine, he accidentally goes back to the dinosaur times and steps on something by accident, and that’s it, but it changed the future drastically. so, i wouldn’t say anything, it could fuck things up.

i’d like the first word that came to your mind when you hear:
manhattan, coney island, water, travel, freedom, harlem, 9/11, politicians.
i don’t like these things, so i’ll just say that I like to drink and swim in water, even though most the water in the world is fucked and full of unnatural bullshit like pharmaceuticals and plastic pollution.

i like seeing and experiencing new places, but i seem to have too many ambitions and goals with work and life in new york to enjoy spending the time, money, and bullshit of airline travel, to get away from it too much. there’s so much greatness in new york, or accessible by car, from culture and civilization to woods, nature, beaches, rivers, lakes and mountains, and wonderful friends and family.

i don’t typically pay attention to politicians much, but right now i have interest in this bernie sanders guy. i hope he becomes president of the U.S.

have you ever been in greece? have you ever met a greek skateboarder?
i don’t believe i have.

could you send us a photo of something you love?
i’m including a photo from the beach this summer. it’s a slightly strange composition for me, but i love the beach, the friends in the photo, and what we’re doing.