PHOTO JOURNAL: Jeremy Stephenson #1

Jeff Stockwell * Mute 360

This isn’t the obvious choice for a PHOTO JOURNAL, as it’s more about the creative process than the technical aspects. After a decade of skate photos, it’s not always as exciting to shoot with the same setups. I’m usually “supposed” to expose for the skater, separate him from the background, dropping the scene a stop or 2, getting the strobes on the skater, and maybe highlighting him with a strong backlight. This is clearly not the case here…

This was taken at a small beachside skatepark in a town called “Playas” along the coast of Ecuador. When I found out I’d be traveling down with Jeff, Alex, and Kenny, I really wanted to try to get out of my comfort zone from a photographer’s perspective and see if I could approach the trip with a different style and see what would happen. I typically travel with about 50+ pounds of photo gear at a time, which always slows down my setup time and mobility when shooting and traveling. I get jealous of videographers who can travel with one light bag, camera, and a few tapes while I’m sweating and looking like a lost sherpa. I decided to travel barebones for four weeks, bringing no flashes, no radio slaves, no tripods or light stands. Just the camera bodies and lenses, a change of clothes, and a Holga and Polaroid to experiment with. During the trip I tried to always keep the camera in my hands and experiment with natural light.

This shot came the night before a contest while we were checking out the park. The town’s mayor showed up unexpected and the organizers really wanted to put on a show for him, even though Stockwell wasn’t supposed to skate until the next day. Luckily, Jeff is a champ and had just finished bracing a few minutes earlier. He started shredding a one-man demo in front of a town who had never seen a pro skater in their lives, ripping the park like only he can. The park was exposed only by some high overhead lights covered with insects. The sun had just set, so I cranked my ISO all the way to 3200 and was shooting wide open at 2.8, going the complete opposite what they teach you in photo school. There is lots of grain, shallow depth of field, and little detail, especially in the shadows and runway, but I still always find my eye coming back to this picture, and it is one of my favorite images from the trip. There is so much steez in the 360, and the chaotic environment that was created at the spur of the moment never would have been captured if I had been busy trying to rush and get some lights set up.

Changing the gear I worked with changed the entire pace and style of the trip for me and forced me to think differently about light and my photography. While I was limited in my usual style, it opened up lots of other opportunities for images that I am normally forced to watch pass by. — Jero

Leave A Comment

Adam Morris - Friday, August 14th, 2009

Right on, man!

Although it’s in color, it reminds me of grainy ISO 3200 (or higher) black and white film shots. Feels so much more organic and honest than a typically lit skate shot.

ANTI-ROCKER BLACK MAN(i hate white people) - Friday, August 14th, 2009

black and white? color? ill let you in on a little secret brother, once you begin to find another kind of resolution for ur shots, youll win a spot on the pages of online aggro zines maybe even believeinone, try to shooot some peeps blindfolded, fold ur hand ADM, its time up the ante on ur media bling, it can get technical.

nick k - Saturday, August 15th, 2009

nice one Jero… I love the lighting and angle, definitely different but this picture has so much character… and the 360 is epic

kyle erin - Sunday, August 16th, 2009

If jero and jeff stockwell wasn’t part of this photo journal u probaly wouldt even post it due to its grainy non strobe situation funny how names play parts in this culture

ryan schude - Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

hell yeah. where can we see the rest of the pics? this doesn’t need finer grain or strobes and if it wasn’t jero or jeff of course it wouldn’t kick this much butt, their names have an influence for a reason…

je - Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Thanks for explaining that Ryan. I was wondering how to phrase that same sentiment. Don’t fault the purveyors of quality (skaters, photographers, editors, publishers, videographers, sponsors, etc) for recognizing and reacting to exceptional talent. Few besides the combo of Jeff and Jero could have made this image the way it is here. I especially enjoy the crowd, made smaller by the effect of the angle, and the skaters very close to Jeff’s landing, just rolling around like young dudes do at the park. With so many details to take in, the blown-out, grainy quality seems to enhance the mood.

TenisD - Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

I love it!!

Photography is always experimenting with light, and thank You for posting this here. Other than that, time to time people even on ISO400-800 say there’s to much noise in the picture, when you can only see it by putting your head to the monitor up close and only in farest shadows possible.

Like pixel peepers or somethin..

Mabey there is just too much people that have no idea about what quality means in this hyperspeed tehnical age..

It’s not just about pixels u know!! Look at the best pictures from 90’s!!

They were not cleanest stuff ever, but older film pictures had something better than clean paper type of smoothness we are use to see everywhere.

This picture has some different kind of quality – its like this picture has a soul.

Good to see You making something “dirty style” also Jero.

Thank You again and hope to see those Holga and Polaroid pictures as well some day :)

Michael Braud - Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

I was thinking the same thing.

The aspects of this photo (blurriness, jeff’s unique style, low light) seem to add to the natural direction and purpose of the photo.

Specifically, because of Jeff’s notorious skating style, people know who is doing the 360 without the clarity of the photo automatically making it an option. Stockwell being half lit also wouldn’t work if his skates and wheels weren’t superbly white, he wasn’t white, or if Jero had snapped the photo a little before or after this exact second.

The fact that the skatepark and Jeff are mildly grungy also points toward a more rugged approach to this photo, making the grainy quality add to the photo rather than take away from it.

Being one who has had some fun breaking rules, I have never understood how someone can tell someone else there is one one way from “Point A” to “Point B”. This photo is yet another example that, even if only in certain situations, can be broken to gain from an experience.

Here’s to breaking the rules and looking back on it favorably.

(Evolution sometimes is the result of random mutation.)

KERS - Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Ive said it before and Ill say it again, if you want to know what makes this photo especially pleasant then you might be a newcomer or just out of the loop, bc Jeff Stockwell is still doing his thing and with presence, that is what makes a good photo, a skater worthy of being photographed.

Jeff Stockwell has put in his years. Dudes been skating religiously for years, seriously this dude dates back to like 97 as far as competing goes.

All Im saying is that we need to appreciate more skating like this. A lot of skaters can pull a 360 over that ramp, but few can do it as high and with as much precision as Stockwell.

This is what seperates Jeff Stockwell and any other pro rollerblader from the rest of you. It takes years to get to this level and I doubt many of you will still be around to get paid like Jeff withstanding the test of time thus making your skills second nature.

Tim over @ FUEL tv - Monday, October 26th, 2009

Good to see Stockwell getting his sets in. More blading like this is needed from the major media outlet ONE mag. If u guys can come up with some sort of game plan I might think about passing the word on over here at Fuel tv. Props!

onelovenohate - Monday, October 26th, 2009

stockwell is sick but so are haffey and frankie, if anyone should be highlighted, it shoud be these two. and i would be wary of any media outlet that is controlled by skateboarders, no offense fueltv

Tim over @ FUEL tv - Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

no offence taken buddy but think about this: can haffey or frankie steez it out proper as stockwell? Im a skateboarder but I rollerblade too buddy so next time u point the finger go elsewhere

onelovenohate - Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

frankie’s got some of the sickest steez of all time and haffey’s athleticism and power are his steez. jeff’s really good but maybe you like him so much because he’s got that lanky style like a skateboarder? dunno. anyway, keep blading and then maybe someday you actually will be my buddy!