Interviewing skateboarders in LA

Kirsty Smith

Life In A Day4


Typically characterised as outcasts, lawbreakers and nuisances, skateboarders have come to signify a visual representation of cool. Traveling to Los Angeles California, the birth place of skateboarding, my aim was to capture this authentic narrative from leading industry photographers and videographers focusing on the methodology employed by these practitioners to capture the true nature of skateboarding. With questions prepared, I set off with a small crew of one to interview eleven of these leading voices. Leaving mid-July where UK temperatures were around 22 Celsius we arrived in LA, where unbeknown to us a heat wave had hit, and were faced with 41 Celsius most days, rising to an incredible 46 towards the end of the visit.


Lugging around our equipment and staying focused in such extreme heat was quite the task, thankfully jet lag was not and by the end of day one interviews were already in full swing. Understanding professional’s decision-making processes, their design methodology to capturing and editing photographs and film, the instinctive nature of their own physicality during these critical moments was key to help construct and define a representation of these authentic narratives.


By employing first hand quantitative data methods, I was able to examine the real-world application of decision making, through conversation, visual mapping and participant observation. From capturing conversations, images of work spaces to working on site with photographers and videographers, I immersed myself in the practise and processes associated with capturing skateboard culture.


While the research visit seemed to flash before my eyes, the ten-day visit was nonetheless an incredible opportunity to immerse myself in the culture. With eleven interviews documented, eight rolls of film to develop and three Super 8 films ready for scanning and digitising Los Angeles has become a catalyst for community engagement, one I intend to pursue further in my research.


Life In A Day2