Crash Course in Skate Photography Chapter 7

Crash Course in Brain Surgery Skate Photography.

By Sebastião Belfort Cerqueira

Chapter 7 – The Bird

Well, everybody’s heard about the bird. The bird is the word. I mean the bird, bird, bird, well, the bird is the word. Don’t you know about the bird? Everybody knows that the bird is the word. Which proves that everybody’s stupid, because it’s not a fucking word, it’s a gesture.

The ubiquitous bird quickly became a staple of skate photography because it encapsulates, in one brief hand motion, every skateboarder’s most intimate dreams, ambitions and apprehensions. This is not particularly complicated to understand if we remember the famous old adage attributed to Shirley Temple that defines a skateboarder as “someone who flips burgers while dreaming of flipping their boss the bird and flipping boards for a living.” Here the bird emerges as the pivotal movement for the pivotal moment. It means freedom. It is highly likely that it also may mean starving. That’s why most skaters never flip it to their bosses. The bird can change everything, you may be free as a bird, however, this bird you cannot change. Lord knows, it can’t be changed. You may try it with your pinky finger, but it’s no longer the bird, you’ll just look like an idiot.

The amount of birds being flipped that are captured by skate photographers’ lenses are thus to be understood as a classic instance of good old Fordian sublimation. Oops, Fordian slip there. What this means is that, while irretrievably lost among the grinding gears of standardized mass production and unable to make the move that might free them, skaters will try to ease their anxiety by flipping the bird repeatedly when it no longer counts, in a safe context. It suggests, furthermore, that most skaters wish to be immortalized on film as someone who could perform the gesture that would have afforded them freedom but that tragically never blossomed in that one decisive moment. These are troubled creatures, living in troubled times. We should not judge them too harshly.

Meanwhile, it has more or less become part of a skate photographer’s job description that skaters will flip him the bird as often as they like. Yet another proof of the kind-hearted, patient kind of submission that characterizes the class as a whole. Your average skate photographer will not see red when a skater flips him off, he will see all the colours of the rainbow and take confort in the fact that there’s one good thing about the bird: much like music, and unlike taking a real live ostrich to the face, when it hits you, you feel no pain. Let us finish this chapter with this soothing thought and with the following one: Pa Pa Oom M-Mao Mao Oom Mao M-Mmao Pa Pa Oom M-Mao Mao... whatever that might mean.

Bird flipper, Louis Bijan. Bird catcher, Pascal Lieleg. See more of his stuff here.

Sign Up for our Newsletter

Join the Trucks and Fins community and receive exclusive news, giveaways, access to subscribers-only-contests, discounts from our partners and much more directly from us!