When you shoot portraits do you give a lot of direction?
Sometimes when I shoot portraits, I give a little bit of direction. But less is more sometimes. it depends on what you're trying to do..
It depends on the person?
When you're shooting a skate photo I think a tenth of it is the actual shooting the photo. There's so much that's going into the photo beforehand. You call the skater, think of a spot, meet up, grab a coffee, you go to some warmup spot, you skate around a little bit, you get back in the car, you drive or skate to whatever spot. Then you get there and then they're warming up there and they're getting psyched to try something. There's so much conversation and talk that's going in beforehand. You've got some skater that's like, "All right, I'm about to potentially really hurt myself right now for this person but I trust them." I feel like you get this deeper relationship and bond so when you're there shooting the photo, there's trust and the skater is not worried about what the photo's going to look like but about landing it.
It's the same thing with a portrait. You can sit there and have conversations with people and get to know them. By the time you stand up and say, "Okay, here's your mark. Stand there and I'm going to shoot a photo of you," I feel like all of that direction, it's already there. It's like, I know you. You know me. We already know each other. So no, I don't give too much direction unless it's some sort of ad thing.
Did you shoot much candid stuff during all those years?
I did, I was talking about this yesterday. A little point and shoot stuff, but again, when I was younger in New York shooting skating, I wanted to shoot more of that stuff, but then like Ari Marcopoulos was there. He was doing that, so thought, I don't want to do what Ari does. But when I look back at it now, he wasn't doing something that somebody else wasn't already doing. It was just the people he shot at the time. And I love Ari's photos, I think he's great. I just think I left a lot of gold out there. I left a lot on the table that I regret it today. Because sometimes it's not about how beautifully something is composed. When you're talking about candid stuff, it's that guy was with that guy at that place at that time.
You talk a little bit about this yesterday too, how you shouldn’t feel like you can’t have strong influences.
Yeah, you've got to put a little bit of your own self in there. Your own self might be the reactions on the people you're shooting, something you said or you did made them be that person or that way, the way they are at the moment. But even today when I look back at some of the candid stuff I do have, I think, "Ah, fuck, I wish I shot more of that stuff."
When you first start shooting, you don't often think about your photos in terms of time and how the work is going to look like in 20 years.
Never. I never even wrote dates on a lot of my images. You get caught up on the wrong shit. I try to keep better records now. I try to think a little more when I'm shooting. I I'm pretty sure I'll look back on this and I'll be like, "God, I sound like such a dick." Everything's a learning curve, right? Art's never finished. Isn't there some saying like that?
I thought it's something about knowing when you're finished.
Is it? I don't know, see what I'm saying? I feel like every artist probably looks back at their photos or their work and thinks, "I could have done that so much better. I could have done this. I could have done that."
Well that’s part of growing as an artist isn’t it?
I just remember looking at an old skate photo and wondering, "Why did I think this was good? This photo sucked." It's stupid but you know...