Do you also find skateboarding amazing and could watch skaters for hours? Even better, do you want to capture their fun tricks and freeze them in motion?
Then skateboard photography is your genre! Read on to find out how to become an excellent skateboard photographer.
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1. Find the Right Angle for Dynamic Photos
Skateboard photography is all about finding the right angles. Forget the one-fits-all approach. Every trick and every skateboard park looks good at a different angle.
Take images of skateboarders from the ground. Low-angle works very well for skateboard photography, as it adds excitement and increases the height.
Now try to shoot from above. Photograph while standing on benches or from around the curves. It’s always a good idea to get a front-facing side of the skater in the frame.
Watch the skaters doing the trick and snap a few test shots. This way, you will learn what angle works well for certain tricks.
Try to avoid using traditional perspectives. Skaters are moving around and doing fast tricks, bending their body in surreal positions. Your skateboarding photos should convey the same impression.
2. Use Manual Focus to Create Sharp Skate Photos
Often, autofocus won’t be able to get you sharp images when capturing skaters. Use manual focus and try to estimate where your subject will be in the frame.
Choose an object at the spot where you are expecting your skater subject. Prefocus on that object and shoot when the skater arrives in the scene.
This needs a bit of practice, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right at first.
3. Shoot in Shutter Speed Priority Mode to Capture Motion
Just like any other action shot, skate photos require a fast shutter speed. This way, you can freeze the motion of the skaters and capture the perfect moment.
Shoot in Shutter Speed Priority, so you don’t have to worry about the right aperture. Your camera will adjust according to the chosen shutter speed.
Sometimes, you might want to capture motion blur. For this, you need a slower shutter speed. Experiment with the camera settings and see what results you prefer.
4. Get to Know and Work with the Skaters
Getting to know the skaters is one of the most important jobs of a skateboard photographer. Introduce yourself and ask them if it’s okay to photograph them during skating.
Some people can feel disturbed by the camera. You don’t want anyone to get injured because of your presence. Ask the skaters about the tricks they will perform and the direction they are heading to.
In skateboarding photography, you have the advantage of being able to talk to your subjects. Discuss the angle you are going to shoot from, so you won’t be in their way.
Get to know the community of the skate park. This way, you can capture more personal photos and tell visual stories.
If you are serious about skateboard photography, you should be an active member of the community. This could lend you photography gigs at local skateboard competitions or practices.
5. Choose a Background that Enhances Your Composition
Think about the background as part of your photography composition. You can keep it clean and tidy, and include only the sky. This way, you can create a contrast between the sky and your subject.
Separating your subject from the background is always a good idea in skateboarding photography. But it is not always easy though, as skate ramps are often surrounded by buildings, colourful graffiti and poles.
You don’t have to exclude all of these to get stunning skate photos. Use them for your advantage.
It will be a bit tricky to freeze the skaters’ motion AND pay attention to photography composition at the same time. But with experience, you will get there.
6. Focus on the Details to Tell a Story
Often, you will hear the advice not to cut your subjects’ heads or limps. Sure, full-body skater photos look cool. But you shouldn’t ignore capturing details.
Focus on the skateboards, they often have a unique design. Snap photos of the skater’s apparel and accessories.
Capture the relationship between the skaters. They are often more than good friends – they consider each other family.
Take photos of the skateboard park and the ramp. Capture the surroundings to convey the atmosphere and the vibe of the spot.
Focusing on the details will allow you to tell a story with your photos. You can even create a photo series or a documentary with your skateboarding photography.
If you want to learn how to shoot amazing close-ups, you can get great tips from our course Macro Magic.
7. Shoot with a Fisheye Lens to Capture a Wider Scene
You don’t need any specific camera or photography gear to capture fantastic skate photos. But there are a few lens types that can improve your images even more.
Try shooting with a fisheye lens. The extreme-wide angle lets you get closer to your subject and still include a fair amount of the surroundings. The fisheye lens also highlights the curves and shapes of the ramp.
Besides the fisheye lens, you can also use a normal wide-angle and even telephoto lenses. The latter helps you put more emphasis on the skater and separate them from the background.
8. Use Your Surroundings to Find the Best Shooting Spot
Don’t be shy when taking photos of skaters. Look around your surroundings and find spots for the best shots. Climb up to places and try to incorporate exciting props or objects in the background.
To get the most impressive photos, try to photograph from a skater’s point of view. For this, you need courage, flexibility and good reflexes.
9. Be Creative and Experiment for Unique Results
Skateboarding is about breaking the rules of gravity. Photographing skaters is definitely not about sticking to conventional rules.
Be creative, try new compositions, angles or depths of field. Experiment with lenses, camera settings or even with external flashes. Shoot in different lighting conditions.
Don’t settle once you are comfortable with certain shooting conditions. Skateboarding is always evolving, and so should your skateboard photography.
10. Read Skater Blogs and Follow Skaters for Inspiration
To keep improving your skateboard photography, you need sources of new ideas and inspiration. Read skater’s magazines and blogs to be up-to-date about the new tricks and apparel.
Follow skaters and skateboarding-related accounts on Instagram or other social media. Get inspired by the photos and videos.
This is not only a great way to find new concepts for your images. But it is also an excellent opportunity to learn more and get a better understanding of the skateboarding culture.
Skateboarding photography is part of the sports photography genre. But it’s so diverse, that you can specialise in capturing skaters and even make a living from it.
The most important advice is to learn and understand skateboarding culture. Learn the tricks they perform, the way they dress and see the world. Get to know the skaters and communicate with them during the photoshoot.
Try these tips to get authentic skateboarding images and become a successful skateboard photographer.