Mike Blabac's Best Photographs | My Life In Pictures
The renowned skate photographer talks us through the best five pictures he's ever taken
Words & photography by Mike Blabac
I was originally born in Steubenville, Ohio. I grew up there, then lived in Michigan as a teen where I started skating. I made the trek to San Francisco in February 1994 and that was where I first started to really shoot skating.
My first camera was a Nikon F3. My parents got it for me at a swap meet in Michigan. For as long as I could remember though, I always had cameras. I remember going on field trips for school as a kid, and wanting like five rolls (cartridges) of 110 film for my camera so I could take a ton of photos. I got seriously into it after I started skating at the age of eleven.
I try to shoot just about everything around me. For work, I shoot everything from skateboarding to commercial work these days. Skateboarding is what I'll always love shooting though. It's what has shaped me as a photographer. The first photographs I saw of skating are what truly made me believe that's what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
"I've always loved getting as close as possible."
I draw inspiration from a lot of different things, mostly other photographers though. I often pour over old Richard Avedon, or Jim Marshall books.
If I had to narrow down three, it would be Grant Brittain, Richard Alvedon, and Walter Iooss. They are three very different types of photographers, but all absolute masters in what they do.
If I could have taken one photo that someone else shot, it would be Michael Jordan's "Blue Dunk" in 1987, shot by Walter Iooss. Everything about that photo is amazing to me.
The shot below is Evan Smith doing a Hippy Jump in Philadelphia. Evan, myself, and few other people were on our way to a rail in Philadelphia when we got a bit lost, and drove across these kids playing next to an open fire hydrant. The cones and everything about the spot was begging for a Hippy Jump photo!
I tried pulling over then, but Evan insisted on going to the spot because he didn't want to skate it after being soaked from a fire hydrant. I'm glad he was stern about skating the other spot because it ended up being a Thrasher cover. We went here immediately afterward. The light ended up being even better!... Thanks for being a good sport Evan!
The shot above is Josef Scott with a Bs Tail in Vista California. I'm fond of this photo I shot late in 2016 because it reminds me of a classic get close enough to completely fill the whole frame fish eye photo. I've always loved getting as close as possible.
The shot above is Tristan Funkhouser with a Tuck Knee in Brooklyn, New York. Although T Funk is only 19 - he already looks like he's been on a board for much, much longer. He knows more about classic skate video parts such as Cardiel's Sight Unseen (which came out when Tristan was only 2 or 3) than even I do, and definitely skates like it.
The shot above is Matt Miller with a Switch Bs Lip in San Francisco. Matt Miller and I were just cruising around SF shooting photos for the day. We were pushing around when I saw the sun setting on the Bay Bridge. Matt and I then skated to a spot that was framed perfectly against the bridge. This photo we quickly shot before the sun completely set in 2010. It ended up being the cover of Skateboarder Magazine.
The shot below is Josh Kalis on the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. I was on a shoot in San Francisco in 2012. I knew we'd have the bridge completely shut down - so I asked Josh (who happened to be in the city) if he'd like to shoot a photo skating across it. He agreed even if my call time was 4:30 am. We had the bridge for 3 - four minute intervals.
"I knew we'd have the bridge completely shut down - so I asked Josh (who happened to be in the city) if he'd like to shoot a photo skating across it. He agreed even if my call time was 4:30 am."
After going up with the crew the first time, I knew we could pull it off. The second time up with Josh - the crew went one way, and Kalis and I went the opposite direction. We even had to ask a cop to move! This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I'm so glad Josh and I got to take advantage of it!
My website has a bit more of my "other" work!... Ha! blabacphoto.com