J. GRANT BRITTAIN Vintage Skate Photography

Continuing The Beating Of The Dead Horse

I have noticed a lot of Skate Photographers going overboard with Photoshop lately, so much that it's kinda gross! I started shooting digital photos in the late 90s, I was one of the early converts to it, primarily to save money at Transworld Skateboarding Magazine as the Photo Editor. I remember the big gripe of film photographers not switching over to Digital was that "It doesn't look like film!" After a few years of the debate on what was better, film or digital?, most everyone that worked for the Skate Mags had crossed over to the Dark Side. Don't get me wrong, I love film and still shoot it for my personal work. Soon after crossing over, I noticed a few skate photographers tweaking their digital images in Photoshop so much that their old comments on Digital not looking like Film rang true, they were proving it by their own manipulation of their work. After a while, photographers looked like they were toning it down on all the HDR, over sharpening, tweaking color, etc, but then came Instagram and other sharing networks and the over tweaking of skate photos had a resurgence. I guess it could just be my own personal taste or me being the Old grumpy Dude. I think a great image is a great image and the skill of shooting a great photo doesn't have to be enhanced by over manipulation of that photo. Sure, we were manipulating negatives in the wet analog darkroom back in the pre-digital days, but the burning and dodging and changing contrast still had a purist intention and we had a commitment to the documentation of skateboarding. The Skate Photography that I see coming out these days is amazing. 30+ years ago we could have never imagined what skaters would be doing now, nor could we imagine what photographers could be capturing with the technical advances of camera equipment today. It is very easy to make good quality photographs these days, cameras and technology can make up for a lack of skill and laziness, Photoshop is a godsend, I love it. But in the end, the final image should at least have some semblance to life and truth. The Skateboarding images that are remembered from the past and will be remembered in the future are the ones that capture that moment in time and stand on those classic elements of composition, timing and skill.

Chris Miller, Upland's Pipeline Skatepark 1987. Fujichrome RF film on Nikon FM2. Photo: Grant Brittain

Chris Miller, Upland's Pipeline Skatepark, 1987. Nikon FM2 and Fujichrome RF film. Photo: J Grant Brittain 


4 comments

  • I agree. Shoot and print period

    Andy lomas
  • Your work is a constant reminder to me, to get it right in-camera.

    Scott
  • Must have been quite a rush to have Miller skating around you at Mach 1.

    GB fan
  • I guess we are all grumpy old men…but your right on. Not the gear but the creative eye that makes magic.

    Don Hoffman

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