Crash Course in Skate Photography Chapter 4

Crash Course in Brain Surgery Skate Photography.

By Sebastião Belfort Cerqueira

Chapter 4 – The Whathef#ckisthis?

The whathef#ckisthis?, in spite of its somewhat shaggy-looking moniker, is a very common type of shot in the field of skate photography. As one might infer from the nomenclature, the essence of this type of shot, what distinguishes it from other important skate photography standards is the reaction it brings forth in the viewer, frequently expressed, in English-speaking countries as well as many others, as “whathef#ckisthis?”

Of course, the highly subjective origin of the shot’s denomination has proved a recurring obstacle in its analysis and discussion by skate photography scholars worldwide. The ever ornery French school still prefer to use the cooler and more elegant “Quoi?” Whereas in Brazil there is an ongoing debate whether to adopt the “oi?” or the “ué?” variation. Cows call it “moo”. The question as to whether a cow’s interest in skate photography will or will not affect the quality of its milk also remains to be answered, as does the question of how they got here in the first place. Shoo, cow! Shoo! I was on a roll, get on out of my essay! Bleeding cows...

Mooooving on, the educated reader will have spotted the rather sneaky way in which what began as just another silly mock-essay developed into a pretty smart piece of self-illustrative writing, meaning that not only is this essay about the whathef#ckisthis? but it has also taken on the form of a whathef#ckisthis?, thereby causing the reader to experience the same type of “Quoi?” reaction that is being described to him. Quite sophisticated.

It remains to be said that the whathef#ckisthis? raises a central question in skate photography studies, namely, the one I alluded to in the first chapter of our course when I mentioned the issue of photo captions. In a nutshell, a peanut shell, not a coconut one, the predicament may be paraphrased thus: there is no way to check a skate photo caption for accuracy, so there’s no reason why we should trust the fucking things. Pardon my French. “Quoi?” Get on outta’ here you French interjection! Sorry about that. Lettuce proceed with our argument by stating clearly that, especially in the case of flip tricks caught on camera, the viewer’s appreciation of a given shot is heavily dependent on the insight imparted by the caption.

Take the case of the photo above. Take it wherever you like. And when you return, probably a wearier but also a wiser person, or cow, you’ll still be unable to answer me when I ask you “whathef#ckisthis?” The gentleman in the photo could be engaged in doing a front foot impossible or a back foot one, or any of these two switch. He could be trying to land a kickflip underflip or bailing a fakie airwalk or just seeking to extricate himself from a persistent square of sandpaper or from reality or both. Maybe that’s just how he makes soup. Who knows? And, what’s more important, who cares? I know I don’t. So until the great algorithm unites our fates again, Holy cow! Whathef#ck was that??

Photo by Lawrence Fung. Soup by his homie Jimmy. Check out more of Lawrence’s work here.

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