These Powerful Portraits Give You An Inside Look At Skate Culture

by Erika W. Smith

San Francisco-based photographer Jenny Sampson spent seven years making tintype portraits of West Coast skaters, bringing a portable darkroom to skate parks in California, Oregon and Washington — and now she’s ready to share them with the world with her book Skaters: Tintype Portraits of West Coast Skateboarders (Daylight), out today, October 10. In an introduction, Sampson explains her fascination with skate culture:

That skaters view the world through a unique and uniquely revelatory lens is no secret. Where civilians see safety—a handrail, a wheelchair ramp—skaters see opportunity. What others view as unsightly— drainage ditches, condemned motels and their stagnant pools of brown scum-skimmed water—skaters seek out. We will drive for hours just hoping the spot hasn’t been dozed; we’ll bring brooms and buckets, torches and tents, and bags of concrete. What everyone else takes for granted—empty parking lots, the transitioned planter outside a bank, a freshly painted curb, a Dumpster beside a loading dock—skaters notice immediately. Where the rest of the world sees limits and nastiness and the bland burden of suburban life, we see possibility; we see an invitation to construct something out of air and movement, a structure at once ephemeral and everlasting.

2. Skaters Book Cover 60523

We’re excited to share a selection of Sampson’s captivating images with you:

diane emeryville 2017 a1b51Diane, Emeryville, 2017

alex seattle 2016 e84dbAlex, Seattle, 2016

kate seattle 2016 d9e45Kat, Seattle, 2016

cj richmond 2016 3594aCJ, Richmond, 2016

joel portland 2010 7d534Joel, Portland, 2010

vanessa emeryville 2017 9b171Vanessa, Emeryville, 2017

joseph richmond 2016 fbf60Joseph, Richmond, 2016

emilio bakersfield 2010 854c6Emilio, Bakersfield, 2010

vert ramp berkeley 2017 63937Vert ramp, Berkeley, 2017

Images copyright © Jenny Sampson from the book: SKATERS: TINTYPE PORTRAITS OF WEST COAST SKATEBOARDERS, PHOTOGRAPHS BY JENNY SAMPSON Published by Daylight Books


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