Welcome to Behind the Lens

Kyle Jensen, Del Mar Skate Ranch — Photo by J Grant Brittain—1979


Welcome to my first blog entry at the new J. Grant Brittain Photography website.

My aim with this site is to share my photographic images, some of the knowledge I have picked up, a few of my ideas and the backstories behind capturing the moments, and offer some of my historical photographic prints to the lovers of skateboarding photography. I plan to write about the images and experiences I have had in my 38 year affair with the camera and my career documenting skateboarding lifestyle and action. This will also be the location to come to to see about upcoming events and coverage of my past events.

Part One-
I guess that the best place to start is at the beginning.

My brother and I received skateboards for Christmas around 1965, I was 10 years old.
We rode down hills with our neighbors on our butts and basically just messed around like kids do. Skateboarding became a little more important to me when I started surfing at 15, and when we weren't surfing, we pretended we were surfing on our surf-shop-bought skateboards. The big change came with the Urethane wheel and we started making our own decks in my friend’s dad’s workshop. I grew up in Fallbrook, California— a small rural town 20 miles from the Pacific where my few friends and I spent all of our free time trying to get to the beach. After I graduated from high school in 1973, I spent the next year living at my Aunt’s house, which was only 10 miles from the beach, and sleeping in my car and on the beach and doing laundry at my parents, etc.

In 1974, I finally made the big move to Cardiff-by-the-Sea after seeing a card with “Roommate Wanted” on the bulletin board at Palomar College. For the next few years, I worked various jobs—one being at a surf shop— I skated, surfed, and attended some classes at Palomar. In 1978, my next door neighbor and pro skater, Tom “Wally” Inouye, mentioned that he could get me a job at the new Del Mar Skate Ranch. I jumped at the chance. I started working there the second day it was opened in August 1978 and I would work there for the next six years.

Over those first few months of working at the Ranch I was exposed to a lot of top-notch skateboarding, what with all the pros and locals skating the park, and also took notice of the photography in the magazines. I also saw numerous photographers showing up on shoots then publishing their photos in magazines a few months after. The top photogs of that day were James Cassimus, Ted Terrebonne, Glen E. Friedman, Craig Stecyk, Warren Bolster, Jim Goodrich, William Sharp, Craig Fineman, and a few others.

In February of 1979, I borrowed my roommate Rich Apple’s Canon AE1 camera, and he loaded a roll of Kodachrome 64 with the simple instructions to match the exposure needle and make sure the sun was behind you. I shot that first roll of Del Mar local Kyle Jensen, and when I got the roll back I was stoked that there were two usable photos!

A couple of months after that, my friend Chris Ray, who was a photographer, went with me to purchase a used Minolta SRT201 at California Camera and I was on my way.

Part Two to follow…

Keep checking back,
J Grant Brittain     

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