Rolling Through the Shadows

Who: Mark Whiteley

Skateboarder and Leica Photographer

Mark Whiteley, skateboarder and Leica photographer, introduces his interview series “Rolling Through the Shadows.” This series will take a closer look at the seemingly unlikely collision of skateboarding and M photography from the perspective of the skaters and photographers themselves. 

Skateboarders take a raw, unfiltered, hands-on approach to life. Our culture is one comprised of equal parts athleticism, creativity, exploration and documentation. Skaters scour the streets, the alleys and the dives of the world in search of obstacles they can use for unintended purposes; to make physical and interactive art.  Most skateboarders do more than ride; we capture these moments and all the ones that get us there with an artistic slant, providing proof of adventures lived.  We see beauty in the shadows and in the grime we roll through.

Skateboarding is a highly visual culture, including the video production, board graphics, magazines and photography that inform so much of what we see and strive  to achieve. Whether we capture the images or just view them, skaters are very aware of what makes for a striking image, and the subtleties therein. We are also a very detail-oriented group of people, paying special attention to the particulars of the way things are done. Style has long been the determining factor in who gets paid attention to in skateboarding- it is more about how you do something than just what you do. Often skaters who take the basics and make them look beautiful become favorites.

Because of many of these cultural tendencies, there is a group of professional skaters and skate photographers who have gravitated towards Leica M equipment. Beautiful in their simplicity; robust enough to run with us as we hop fences and pile into dirty vans; symbolic of the intersection between classic style and perfected performance; and a life-long commitment for those who know, there is much kinship in spirit and respect towards what M cameras stand for. These skater/photographers are the journalists in the trenches of the culture, documenting  our unbridled lives through eyes that appreciate kickflips and Cartier-Bresson equally. We turn our lenses towards the action, the road, the hotel rooms, the concerts, the bars, the forbidden places and the myriad people who surround us.  The result is an unabashed, inside look at a culture many Leica enthusiasts may know little about, but presented with aesthetics that may seem oddly familiar.

Featured in this series are current professional skaters Jerry Hsu, Rick McCrank, Leo Romero, Todd Jordan, Arto Saari, Raymond Molinar and Ray Barbee; current pro skater and working artist Ed Templeton; past skate magazine editor and current working artist and filmmaker Thomas Campbell; Italian skateboarder Claudio Majorana, and past and present magazine and brand staff photographers Mark Whiteley, Joe Brook, Greg Hunt, Anthony Acosta, Ben Colen, Marcel Veldman, Tobin Yelland, and Jon Humphries.

- Mark Whiteley

Mark Whiteley is a photographer, writer and life-long skateboarder hailing from the San Francisco area and currently living in Portland, OR. He served as the editor-in-chief of SLAP skateboard magazine for 13 years and now works on all things digital for Nike Skateboarding.  His work has been published and exhibited internationally, and his monograph of photography, This Is Not A Photo Opportunity, is available from Gingko Press. For more information on Mark Whitely, please visit markwhiteleyphotography.com.