Brian Gaberman „A life in Transition“ Interview

I can imagine that there must be some points when you´re not satisfied with your work. Does it still get published then?
Oh Yeah, probably 50% of the time at least, maybe more. I mean, I had a lot of articles which I hated. But that´s the job. Sometimes you get lucky, all pieces come together and you get what you wanted, but that’s not usual. It´s my job, it has to happen, rather if i´m happy with it or not.

You where heavy into 4×5, 8×10, all that analog stuff. Is that still your working routine?
Not with skateboarding. I’ve been shooting skateboard stuff with a digital camera for like seven years, since I started with Element. The first shoot i did for them was on film and then I was like oh wait, I gotta print these photos in the darkroom. And they where like we need them right now. That was what made me switch, to make a living, to support my family. I needed to give them what they want. That was when I started to go digital. It took me a while and it´s not so much fun, I don´t like it. To get a digital picture that i´m happy with just takes me a lot of work. I still prefer analog cameras. The pictures I take of my family and all that other personal work is done analog. I would never use digital one for that because it´s not fun. The personal work you do is because you enjoy it and you love the feeling of doing it. I don´t wanna mislead. If any of my kid is doing something awesome and I only have a digital camera with me, I´m gonna shoot it, of course. All this doesn´t matter to me. Anyway, all that matters is what you end up with.

What about Instagram?
I was on Instagram, to keep it up with my friends you know. After a week I just cancelled it. It was boring and I don´t have time for stuff like this.
I´m always taking care of my kids or of my property, my farm. So there´s no extra time and that whole thing just really bored me.

Were you born and/or did you grow up in surroundings like that?
No, it was right around the time when I got kids that I got really interested in growing vegetables. I never grew veggies before that. We never really had a garden or anything like that. Something just changed inside of me and I needed to do that. Maybe it´s like sort of instinct. I just don´t trust the food system in the world anymore. I wanna have the feeling that I can control it if I think that it’s necessary to control it, you know.

Yeah that’s interesting, obviously there seems to be comparison to photography. All that extra work you have with analaog photography kind of looks quite similar from the outside
Yeah, I always do things the hard way. I don´t know why, it sucks.

You went to a lot of special places like Spitzbergen on those Element trips. Are you involved in planning stuff like this?
Only in some discussions with the art director. But in general it´s like I just go where they tell me to go to. And I love that. I love this feeling about not knowing what will happen at all until it´s time to be there.

How was Alaska?
Amazing. Really hard for photography. The hardest pictures I ever had to work on. A total pain in the ass.

I get more excited when Levi lands a good kickflip then if Nyjah does something like that. Just because I know Nyjah´s gonna do it.

Did you use any flashes or did you just use available light?
I used flashes for one photo, because it was in a really dark room, an old factory. But that was the only time i took the flashes out. I didn´t want use them at all, it didn´t feel right. It was like the wrong kind of feeling for this environment, but I didn´t had a choice. He was doing a good trick but there wasn´t enough light. That was the most amazing trip I’ve ever been on to. I don´t think I will ever be part of a cooler trip than this one. So scary, but also so beautiful. Everyday you’re around on a snow mobile thinking like ok, I might die today cause we´re going over an ice lake that is melting. And there´s nothing you can do except saying allright, let´s go. You can´t stay where you are. The day we wanted to leave this russian town, a huge blizzard came in and it was impossible to see anything. Unfortunately we had to get back to take our flight the next day, so we just had to wait. Our guide was like well, we can go but I can´t see anything, I can only strap the GPS to my snow mobile and try to navigate with it. It was just white outside, it was crazy. But we got really lucky, we just waited and after half a day things got better so that we were able to get back in time.

It seems that you attempted to use more black and white photos in your book. Are there any reasons?
Yeah, I didn´t want any color photos inside of it. There were a few people trying to convince me that I should have a few color photos in there. When I first started, everything was full with color slide film, we only shot black and white for sequences. Once I got really interested in photography outside of skateboarding, I just fell in love with black and white. I think it suits better to me. My pictures lent to have a real heavy feeling, like dark feeling, which is not the way I feel like as a person at all. I don´t feel like a heavy dark person. It´s interesting, you learn about yourself when you look at stuff like this.

When was the last time that you shot a sequence?
I don´t even remember. I mean, I do sometimes, but they don´t even go anywhere. They’re almost never afloating. When I first started working together with Chad Tim Tim he was like I feel so much pressure shooting with you because I know you just want to shoot a good still and all my tricks are sequences. I was like hey, I don´t care, it´s my job, like if you wanna shoot a sequence, we will shoot a sequence. It doesn´t matter to me, but I don´t really like it.

Yeah, I can imagine. What about your skateboarding?
My ten year old kid got me to skate a lot more, cause for a while I wasn´t skating very much. When I´m on the road, I´m shooting. I can´t skate while I´m working, or I will miss something. When I get home, I don´t even want to think about skateboarding for a little while. But now he´s really into it and after school I take him to the skatepark a lot.



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