For this week's Mahal, I got to talk with Ben Kilpatrick about what it is like to travel the country, photographing on and off his skateboard. Check out some of his most recent work above and read our conversation below.
VICE: What was it like growing up in Florida?
Ben Kilpatrick: It wasn't bad. Made a lot of friends and had an awesome childhood. Being away from Florida lately has made me realize how crazy it is down there. Whenever I tell people where I’m from they always ask if it really is that bizarre of a place. I guess we are all over the news. People are eating other peoples faces.
While we are on the topic of cannibalism, what kind of crazy things have you seen go on down there?
I think I might have the worst memory known to man. The first thing that popped into my head was this lady chasing her five year old around the bus stop. She was beating him on the head with rolled up newspaper and yelling at the top of her lungs. That happens everywhere though. People are stupid.
How did you end up shooting photos?
I got into photography in high school. My mom bought me a little point and shoot the last week or so of my senior year so that I could document my last days there. I brought my camera everywhere.
How did that lead you to NYC and LA?
There was too much partying going on in Tallahassee, and I was over it. I wanted to be motivated. I was in New York the summer before I moved for a skateboard tour and fell in love. I honestly think about New York everyday. I was in a weird funk my first New York winter. Working crazy hours to afford to live there and no skating or photographing it. I had an internship at Skateboarder Magazine this past summer in California and decided it would be a good idea to move out here and dodge this year’s winter. California is pretty awesome. Lots of Burritos.
What are the main differences you have noticed between shooting in NYC and in LA?
I miss shooting on the way to work. Everyone is outside all of the time and there are tons of interesting things happening all day. I live in Long Beach now and everyone is hiding from me in their vehicles. I head to downtown LA every once in a while to try and search for the same vibe as NYC.
What type of things do you like to shoot outside of skating, and do you ever use your skateboard photography skills when shooting non-skating?
I like to think I do the opposite. I try and take my skills from other things I shoot and put that into skateboarding photography. I really enjoy balance in a photograph. I like to photograph people a lot too but I don't like for them to know. I don’t want to ruin the moment they’re in. I want to save it. I’ll follow someone for blocks until I see them in the scenario or light I want them in.
What advice do you have for all of the kids out there aspiring to be skateboard photographers?
Have fun and be aware of your surroundings and how interesting they are.
What's next for Ben Kilpatrick?
No real plans yet. Hopefully some work! Haha. I need to do some traveling.
Photos by Ben Kilpatrick and words by Taji Ameen.