Skateboarding

10 skate photographers you should follow on Instagram

© Fred Mortagne
From originators to innovators, we have chosen ten lensmen who shaped the game and continue to light up our world with their unique takes on the genre that created skateboarding legend!
Written by Niall NeesonPublished on

1) Joe Brook

Joe Brook is the best-loved man in skateboarding. Having been the photographic workhorse behind the seminal Slap Magazine and later for the genre-defining Thrasher, Joe has not only crossed America countless times in his tour van Big Blue but is also instrumental in spearheading skateboarding’s part in the cultural revival of his native Detroit. 
Joe’s endless photographic summers in Europe were also considered to be instrumental in opening up America’s then somewhat closeted vision of European skateboarding.

2) Kevin Metallier

One of the least celebrated but important qualities in being a photographer skaters want to shoot with is humility. Photographers can be a funny bunch; and prima donnas unfortunately not uncommon. Kevin Metallier is the guy nobody hesitates to jump in the van with because his grounded, workmanlike approach belies a talent for lighting and composition combined with a knack for understanding what celebrated French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson called the ‘decisive moment’.
Among the most widely published photographers in skateboarding history, although he would be too modest to acknowledge the fact himself.
A low-key legend, and silence in a noisy world.

3) Gaston Francisco

Self- made and entirely self- taught, nobody opened a door for Gaston Francisco in his decades in the game. You may have seen his recent Transworld cover with Tiago Lemos switch backtailing that harsh hubba, since Gaston has done more to promote Latin American skaters and skate culture internationally than anyone else bar none.
Having worked with some of the best in the world and covered more of the earth’s surface on skate missions than seems possible for one lifetime, he is all heart and hunger.

4) Grant Brittain

Grant Brittain was there. He is the guy that took the photos that shaped the culture right up until today. Few photographers in history have changed both the subject they covered and the way in which it was simultaneously as much as the revered Mr Brittain has done with skateboarding. 
Put it like this: for the generation of photographers that he ushered in subsequently becoming his understudy was the highest achievable position in the industry, either during the Transworld glory years or indeed at the faultless Skateboard Mag subsequently. 
The skate photographer with the most professional understanding and work ethic, he also lectures in skate photography - but much can be learnt just by looking; his monochromatic pushing photo of Tod Swank remains the most plagiarised skate photo of all time.

5) Sam McGuire

From a professional perspective, the difference between a good photographer and a great photographer is consistency.
With some photographers, when you need two good photos they get two good photos; and when you need ten good photos, they get you two good photos. Sam McGuire's consistent brilliance behind the lens has made him the go-to guy both for action shots and studio work for all that marketing stuff brands need above and beyond covers and ads.
Always flooding with colour and vivacity, his work’s distinctive visual appeal is not harmed by his enthusiasm for taking skating to some frankly random-ass places.

6) Mike Blabac

Mike Blabac created the visual language for DC Shoes. 
How’s that for a CV tagline?
Expansive and razor-sharp, his photography is best appreciated as large as possible to marvel at just how he manages to create scale within a flat image. One of the original professional independent photographers of the modern skateboarding era and a scion of the stills game in a crucible of contemporary culture where second place is nowhere.

7) Dave Swift

If you took a straw poll of skate photographers to ask them who their choice was, many if not most would say this guy’s name.
Why? Because he has done it all. Not only that, but because he remains as personally invested in skating culture as he was back when he shot his first published feature in 1989.
The top boy at Transworld back when it was making careers every 30 days, and later reprising the role with the superb Skateboard Mag where he shot Heath Kirchart’s snaking ledge grind for what was arguably the greatest cover of all time. Unmissable.

8) Fred Mortagne

Skateboarding has flirtations with greatness. Spike Jonze is one example, Fred Mortagne is another. Same breath, absolutely. The funny thing is, photography is not Fred Mortagne’s bread and butter; it is just another manifestation of that greatness.
You will doubtless be familiar with his contribution to skateboarding cinema: Sorry, Menikmati, Bon Appétit. Case closed, there.
It was only after the storm surrounding those films had died down that, like the artist he undoubtedly is, he entered a new phase of interest for himself. The black and white contrasts which became a hallmark of Bon Appétit turned into an avalanche of superbly framed and inventively composed photography which straddled the worlds of action photography, fine art and social comment.
If we tell you that his book ‘Attraper Au Vol’ is introduced by Anton Corbijn, the most vaunted photographer in the music industry over the last 30 years, you will know homeboy isn’t playing games. 
Savour his gift.

9) Davide Biondani

It is not every photographer who can be described as pivotal within their scene, but Davide Biondani has been pivotal to the development of Italian skateboarding culture.
From supplying the visual goods for Italy’s only print skate magazine 6AM to creating - from scratch, himself- A Brief Glance, the digital progeny now celebrating its 50th online issue, Davide has been tireless down the decades in service of the game.
A Brief Glance pushes the visual envelope towards a place where skateboarding meets the wider aesthetic movement which shapes our collective sense of taste, a fact which is so quintessentially Italian as to make it a breath of fresh air in a space where most people take what everybody else is doing as their jumping-off point.

10) Clément Le Gall

Clément is originally from Britanny, but moved to south-west France a few years back to get closer to the Spanish spots and to fullfil his new passion for surfing.
When it comes to photography, he puts a lot of pressure on himself to get the shot: he has high expectations of himself, and when we see the results, we can’t blame him.
A passionate skateboarder, he is part of a new generation who have entered the photography game in a very different climate from previous decades but with no less heart or hustle as a result.
Literally, and figuratively, one to watch!