Crash Course in Skate Photography Chapter 8

Crash Course in Brain Surgery Skate Photography.

By Sebastião Belfort Cerqueira

Chapter 8 – The Portrait

The portrait is a humanizing shot. It is, so to speak, the opposite of the buttshot. It hones in on the opposite end. This in spite of the fact that many who are portrayed will usually display undeniable buttfaces. Yes, my friends, as by now I feel we have become friends, our little crash course has come full circle. One might say it started full circle with the first chapter, but that’s a hole different matter, nudge nudge. We have changed cheeks and, no matter how attached we were to the charms of the lower pair, it is our intellectual obligation to address the implications that arise when skate photographers choose to focus on faces.

The portrait is a humanizing shot. It is, so to speak, wait, I’ve said this. The portrait is meant to draw the observer’s attention towards personal characteristics that are lost when the skater is twenty feet away balancing weirdly on a handrail. The fact that most of the public, quite sensibly, is not interested in said personal characteristics is simply ignored by the portrayer. In that respect, the portrait may be seen as a particular instance of the artsy shot we covered on chapter 6. It represents a special instance of said shot insofar as it is sometimes tolerated by skate magazines. If the portrait’s subject is a famous enough skater, if he happens to be portrayed topless (that goes double for the case of female skaters), then a magazine will be glad to use his portrait to go with the intimate interview where said skater lets the reader know what else goes in his morning bowl of açaí, which book he has read, and maybe even other, dirtier pieces of information.

The portrait is a humanizing shot. It is, so to speak... hm, Groundhog Day. Where were we? WWW? The internet. Yes, on the internet, writing about skate photography. Sorry, lost my mind there. Back to the portrait, so that they won’t see your face. An important survival technique for many skaters. You see, according to Frank Sinatra’s much quoted definition of skate photography portrait, it consists of “a picture of a skater whilst engaged in not skating.” And so most skaters avoid having their portrait taken not, like some primitive peoples, because they fear their soul may be stolen, but because they fear their sponsor may get a hold of photographical evidence of them not skating for a moment and immediately kick them off the team. What good is having a soul if you’re not making tons of money? What good is having a soul if you’re not making just a little bit of money? What is soul? I don’t know. Soul is a hamhock in your cornflakes. And we all know what that means

Portrait of Punk Rock Tom by Glen Jones, taken from his interview which you can read here.

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