Like anything that uses photography to sell a captured moment, skateboarding has its stock photographers as well as its true artists. Anyone can figure out where to place the flashes to make the stairs/gap/rail/whatever look all big and crazy, but it takes a special eye to present the world in a way that has never been seen before. Guys like Daniel Harold Sturt, Brian Gaberman, and Thomas Campbell (back when he used to shoot skate photos) come to mind as some of the greatest visionaries the skate photography medium has ever seen.
Although he's more of a fine artist these days, if I had to make a top ten skate photog list I'd certainly include my buddy Adam Wallacavage. Back when shooting was his main gig, Adam's absurd shots stood apart from everything else in the mags. His work jumped off the page thanks to the creepy old toys and taxidermy always in the foreground of his shots. The thought of Adam spending as much time meticulously picking out children's play things as he did camera bodies and lenses is hilarious to me.
I first met Adam nearly 20 years ago. I remember skating Astor Place in New York when Adam pulled up in his red mid-70s Buick LeSabre. His hair was up in a pompadour and a camera hung loosely around his neck. He gave me a photo of a construction worker spitting across the frame, shot at such a high speed that the ball of phlegm was stopped dead in the air in sharp focus. I thought Adam was one of the coolest guys I'd ever met. Two decades later I still feel the same.
While Adam still fancies himself a photographer, in recent years his passion has shifted to sculpting unique and fantastic chandeliers out of plaster in the form of octopus tentacles, snakeheads, and other ghoulish creatures. His new show opens on Saturday at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery in Manhattan.
In the video interview below, Adam takes us through his chandelier-making process.
Previously by Chris Nieratko - A Chat with Jerry Hsu on Photography and Leaving Enjoi
Magic Mountain opens Saturday, October 19 at Jonathan LeVine Gallery.