Photos: Trying to Look Cool

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We’ve probably all done it: We see a photographer and wanna pose for the camera. We think, “this is gonna look sweet!” and we put our hands in some position we think will look cool. As it often turns out, we are not as cool as we thought.

Throughout my years of shooting downhill skateboarding, I’ve captured better shots when I get the skater looking natural. The moment they start trying to look cool for the camera is when things start to look silly. I’m sure you’ve seen Cali boys trying to look cool all the time with a “hands behind the back slide”, “hands behind your head like you’re relaxin’ slide”, or the “Nor Cal arm steeze” around heelside corners. It all just looks posed and contrived.

Here’s one example: I went out shooting with Chip Wood and Billy Meiners at a wet corner in Portland. I wanted to get some sweetly lit shots going into the corner, but what I ended up getting is a bunch of goof-off shots.


“Woo hoo, look at me mom, I can stand up swide.”


Look at my moustache? Or smell my finger?

You be the judge.


Here, Billy tries to rep PP (His faux jean jacket vest-wearing skate gang, Pavement Princesses), but instead it just looks like he’s trying to show off his pee pee.


Billy has tried to look cool in the past. Here he is in February of 2007 doing some OG slide tricks.

Now for this next picture I will admit that I was the one trying to look cool. In order to represent skating down Zoobomb, I thought up a shot where the camera would be looking back at a pack of riders coming towards the camera. A bunch of my friends went out and agreed to be subjects for this idea. I thought it would a cool idea to have the riders do a flying V like the Mighty Ducks movie. Then, even as my friends rolled their eyes, they agreed to try a shot holding hands. It turns out their rolling of eyes represented the churning of something stinky: cheese.



Every time I go to Maryhill to shoot photos, it seems like people try really hard to look cool for the camera. There are way too many to show, but here are a few favorites:

Nick Breton

Nick Breton shows us his eagle arms.

Addison Fox

Addison Fox give us a mix between a mean mug and a duck face.

Mark Frydrychowski

Mark Findmyhousekey definitely looks cool railing this corner at Maryhill.


Here my friend Mark Fry isn’t trying, but inevitably looks cool with this functional hands free cell phone rubber band accessory.

Back when I shot photos of Patrick Switzer for an interview in Issue #9 of Skate[Slate] Longboarding Magazine, I shot some photos with Pat and Alex Tongue. We went out to a gated community in Happy Valley, OR and shot a bunch on this driveway. At some point Alex and Pat got board with the tricks they were doing and wanted to get the tough guy look. Honestly, Pat’s is not half bad, but then again it’s not half good.


Hangin’ Tough


Check Pat for the BG props.

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In Puerto Rico, I was shooting with Will Royce at the Secret Spot and Will wanted to do a look back. Though it may have been difficult, I think it just looks silly.


Say cheese!

My last example of trying to look cool goes back to Portland and includes Billy Meiners. There is an awesome road near where Casey Morrow grew up. We call it McGnarly because it’s similar to it’s real name and it’s got a gnarly pitch to it. After a steep section, the road bends to the left, appears to go up hill just before dramatically dropping to the right. It’s a must to spot the corner because it requires both lanes on this double yellow road. I’ve been trying to get excellent shots of people riding the road for a while, but never came out with something that pleased me. So when Noah Throckmorton, David Rudgers, and Billy Meiners were going to go session the hill, I had to be there. The sun was setting fast so I set up some flashes. I was really excited about the arrangement of riders as they pre-drifted the corner and I snapped this photo. Upon review though, something just wasn’t right. I couldn’t figure out what Billy was doing. Sure enough, he was trying to look cool and rendered this photo useless.



Here’s a more clear look at Billy repping Portland and the Blazers. We all know how much Billy likes basketball.

Now in conclusion, looking cool is overrated. You are much better off doing what comes naturally. If you are so good at stand-up slides or whatever that you need to try to pose while doing it, go bigger or try something more difficult. Then again, who am I to tell you what to do? Do what you want. Skateboarding is about self expression and you shouldn’t let anyone define what it is for you or keep you from having fun. I just probably won’t take photos of you. Instead, I’ll shoot these two guys skating naturally:



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