For Go Skateboarding Day, don’t just grab a skateboard — grab a camera! Alright, we don’t really care if you grab a skateboard at all. We’re photography junkies here, and mostly excited about skate photography, which is and always has been awesome. We’d even call it rad, but every skater reading this would probably roll their eyes at us.
Truth is, you don’t need to know how to nail a kickflip to appreciate the high-flying eye candy of skateboarding. If you want to capture it on camera, however, you may need to learn a few tricks behind the viewfinder. Here are 10 tips to help you land your skate shots.
1. Rapid Fire Bursts
A trick happens in the blink of an eye, so it’s only milliseconds that separate a shot you want framed on the wall from a waste of space on your memory card. Set your camera to burst mode and rifle off as many shots as you can when it’s time to pull the trigger. Only one shot needs to hit its mark to send you home happy.
If you’ve ever had a skater friend, chances are that you thumbed through a Thrasher magazine or two in his or her bathroom. If you did, then the fisheye shot above will ring some familiar bells. The fisheye lens isn’t only a great way to stretch out a small space or emphasize a pose, but skate parks are filled with beautiful bowl-shaped surfaces that are just made for a bulging fisheye lens.
Skating is a hard-nosed hobby, but it produces acrobatics that are nothing short of elegant. Skaters use their whole bodies to balance their center of gravity, and shadows offer another angle on all of those contortions. Keep an eye open for cool shadows.
4. Stepping Back
If you spot a daredevil and you can’t talk them out of some insane stunt, then you might as well do them the honor of capturing the full scope of their bad decision. Some tricks are best captured from a distance with 911 on speed dial.
5. Clean Backgrounds
Skating is full of self-expression, and one of the ways to let the action sing is to set it against a simple background. Fortunately, two such backdrops are omnipresent in the skateboarding world: the sky and concrete. Keep it simple and let the skaters bring you the flare.
6. Take an Unexpected Angle
There is a lot of repetition in skateboarding, with people trying tricks over and over again. Don’t become complacent and fall into the same old habits, angles and frames. Shoot from across the yard, climb something, or do whatever you need to in order to find a new and interesting take.
7. Early Bird
The best skate spots often have tons of people crowding your frame and diluting your subject. If you’re going to a local skate-park on a beautiful day, go early when most of the skaters are still watching morning cartoons and eating cereal. And do we really need to mention the golden hour again? You know the deal.
8. How Low Can You Go?
A lot of skating is about balancing on razor-thin ledges and catching air, feats that just look way cooler from a low angle. Shooting from down low gives your skater an even louder camera presence on top of the wide-angle or fisheye lens that you’re using.
9. Skate Sequence
Another time-old skate photography convention is the beloved trick-sequence, where you follow a trick through a time-lapse of all of the motions involved. Shoot in bursts with your camera held steady, then assemble your sequence with layers of double exposures. PicsArt’s Add Photo Tool will let you import shots one by one and erase everything but the skater.
This really is the most important tip we have. Skating is about throwing caution to the wind and using the world in ways that almost nobody approves of outside of the skaters themselves. Every skating community is tinged with its own creative form of mischief. Don’t get so caught up in the tricks that you forget about skateboarding’s romantically insubordinate heart.
Starting to think that you really might go out and try this stuff? Good, nothing will shake up your craft like a deep dive into skate photography. Show us what you’ve got and share it on PicsArt photo editor with the hashtag #SkateShot.