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THE LEGEND TALKS ABOUT NIXON COLLAB AND SKATE PHOTOGRAPHY
──GRANT BRITTAIN (ENGLISH)

2014.07.24
voice_of_freedom_grant_britainGrant Brittain, a legendary skate photographer with career of over 30 years. We asked the legend questions about collaboration tee with NIXON, skate photography and skate scene today.

[JAPANESE / ENGLISH]

Interview by VHSMAG Photos courtesy of Grant Brittain and NIXON
 

VHSMAG(V): Which photos did you provide for NIXON tees.

Grant Brittain(G): Nixon is using three photos on tees. Pierre Andre photo I shot in Japan in ’88. A shot of Tod Swank's skateboard with Del Mar Skate Ranch sticker on tail I shot in the ’80s. A photo of the Salton Sea pool I shot in the ’80s.

V: Who are/were your influences as photographer?

G: I began shooting photos in ’79 of skateboarding, so my first influences were skate photographers. I learned by looking at the photographers who came before me in magazines, Warren Bolster, Craig Stecyk, James Cassimus, Jim Goodrich, Ted Terrebonne, Glen Friedman and a few others. During that time I pretty much taught myself since there was really nobody to ask. About a year and a half, I started taking photo classes in college and I started getting influences outside the skate world. Ralph Gibson, Walker Evans, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Henri-Cartier Bresson, a lot of the classic photographers of the 20th century; they helped me find my style.

V: What motivates you to shoot photos?

G: I think just being around skateboarding, skaters and other photographers makes me itchy to take photos. I am always imagining how the action will look in a still photograph and figuring out the best angle to shoot from and what is the best way to light it. I try to out do myself every time I shoot. My peers also make me try harder.

V: What are the most memorable photos from your work?

G: There are a few photos that I really like. The Chin Handplants, Miller Pole Cam, Hosoi Powerslide to name a few. Photos that take me back to that day I shot them and they have a special place in my memory. Those good times, you know?

V: Who do you think is most photogenic? Why?

G: I love shooting skaters that have style, where their style is as important as the actual action. Where a skater's style can carry the photo over the top. Chris Miller and Christian Hosoi are probably the most stylish skaters who ever stepped on a skateboard and they rule in my mind. You can't take a bad photo of them.

V: Who do you want to shoot the most now? Who is fun to shoot with?

G: I like shooting my friends and working on shots with them. Most of them are skaters I’ve known for 20 years or more. A lot of them are guys I have shot since the Del Mar Skate Ranch days. Miller, Cab, Hawk, Andy Mac, Bucky Lasek, Nieder and many others.

V: What do you keep in mind when you shoot photos?

G: I try to keep it all very basic, pretty graphic, simple backgrounds, basic lighting. I learned photography and making magazines pretty much at the same time, so I have a pretty graphic eye compositionally when shooting skating. I am always thinking of the printed page.

V: What do you shoot with? Why did you choose to use them?

G: Using a Canon 5D, because of the full frame sensor and it's lightweight. Canon lenses, 16mm, 50mm, 16-35mm and 200/2.8. Quantum Qflashes, inexpensive and mobile. Hasselblad and Leica for film. And a host of other misc cameras and toys. I think the camera is the least important part of photography; there are a lot of crappy photogs out there with great cameras.

V: Please describe your style and taste in photography.

G: Like I said, I like bare-bones photo, simple and basic, less is more definitely.

V: When do you feel happy about being a photographer?

G: What makes me happy about being a photographer is the same now as it was 30 years ago. I would get my film back from the lab after a couple of days and spread the photos out on the light table and there would be that one magical image that I was happy with. The feeling is the same now, except the darkroom and light table are called Photoshop and the wait time is way shorter.

V: What do you think it takes to be a good skate photographer?

G: Being a skater and understanding skateboarding helps, not just so you know where to be and when to shoot, but also to know the attitude and the feeling of being a skater. Someone who just shoots the action can't show the soul of what we do. It comes off looking like an outsider shot it. It's okay for a newspaper, not a skate mag.

V: What's the most important thing in running skate media.

G: It takes a team of creatives to do a magazine, website and social media. No one can do it alone; it wouldn't last long. I think listening and communication are good skills to have and you need to give up your ego now and then and do it for the good of the whole.

V: You've been shooting skating for over 30 years through TWS and The Skateboard Mag. What do you think has changed the most in Skateboarding?

G: I think quantity has taken over the quality. Everyone is in a big hurry to feed a lot of different mediums. I think a lot of mediocre photos, videos and writing is being disseminated to the masses of lackluster magazines, blogs and Insta whatevers. I have noticed that skate photographers have gotten lazy in their shooting; there are still certain rules that are being ignored. I love digital, don't get me wrong, but I see very few images that will stand the test of time.

V: Any place or anyone in particular that you want to shoot in Japan?

G: Aki Akiyama, where is he? Masanori "Devilman" Nishioka when he learns how to skate on his new leg. I wish I could shoot the Osaka Daggers, those dudes are sick! The Heshdawgz, CB and EC. EC is 69 years old and rips. The only person I shot this trip was my son, Sage, he's a diehard skater at 19 and lives for it every day.

V: Anything lined up in the future? Any projects you are currently working on?

G: Still doing the mag and shows. Working on a coffee table book of my photos, going to work whole hog on it in August.

grantbrittainGrant Brittain / www.jgrantbrittain.com

Started shooting photos in 1979. He has helped start Transworld SKATEboarding as photo editor in ’83 and launched The Skateboard Mag in ’03. He’s a true legendary skate photographer with career of over 30 years.

grantbrittainGrant Brittain / www.jgrantbrittain.com

Started shooting photos in 1979. He has helped start Transworld SKATEboarding as photo editor in ’83 and launched The Skateboard Mag in ’03. He’s a true legendary skate photographer with career of over 30 years.
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