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 there’s one photo by another photographer (living or dead) that you wish you’d taken, or a particular event you wished you could’ve photographed, which would it be and why?
Michael Jordan’s “Blue Dunk” in 1987 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!