Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Lonely Wanderer: Atiba Jefferson on the Evolution of Photography Through Skateboarding

There is little Atiba Jefferson has not shot within his chosen realms. He's captured some of the most iconic skate images in history and he has gone on to shoot the likes of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Ice Cube, Lil Wayne and many more. The talented photographer found himself in Hong Kong to present his "Lonely Wanderer" exhibition with HVW8 and WOAW, which was inspired by the Panda Bear track of the same name. "If you... look back... would you... look back... what have you done... have you done... was it... was it worthwhile?" The cascading keys and haunting vocals of the track helps illustrate Atiba's emotions when traveling around, as photography can be a lonely job at times.

It is difficult to pin down the category the Los Angeles-based photographer falls into, as it touches upon the diverse areas of music, fashion and sports. Along with a catalog of commercial work for big clients such as Nike, adidas, Pepsi and Mountain Dew, Atiba has built up a very impressive portfolio, which many photographers would aspire to call their own. From his experience as a staff photographer for the LA Lakers and Transwold SKATEboarding, he managed to capture historic moments that still resonate to this day. Furthermore, as a founding member of The Skateboard Mag, his images of figures such as Andrew Reynolds, Eric Koston, Tony Haw and Jason Dill helped shape the image of skateboarding in general. It allowed people to recognize the sport as an art form and way of expression, rather than its stereotypical connotations to trespassing and delinquency.

Jefferson aimed to show a diverse body of work in "Lonely Wanderer," with a slight emphasis on basketball culture as the sport is so prevalent in Asia. He finds delight in how his work can speak to so many people from different backgrounds. We took the opportunity to sit down with him, discussing his noteworthy portfolio and what the future holds for a photographer that has shot an abundance of culturally relevant subjects.


The Universal Language of Photography


Can you go into the inspirations behind "Lonely Wanderer" and what that Panda Bear track means to you?
It’s just a great song. He’s a very, very good friend of mine. The record is great. The title is a big part of doing things like this. It’s always really weird to do a photo show that’s not in your hometown. Not that I’m concerned with it being full of people, I don’t normally show a lot. I don’t do photo shows often, I’ve only really done them with Tyler. I feel a little weird about it sometimes, like self-conscious, but when I do them back home, they’re kind of big parties. We usually try and have bands play and I know all my friends are going to show up so I know it’s going to BE a party. But when you come and do these on your own, it’s pretty lonely. You go to the hotel room, check in, you meet new people but come 6:30, I’m just a weird guy lurking at his own photo show. But it’s also flattering. It’s fun. It’s exciting.

Your work speaks out to everyone around the world.
Yeah, that’s why I try and make a whole mixture of everything. There’s a lot of basketball in here because I feel basketball culture is really big in China and being an American and being a basketball fan, it’s flattering to see how popular it is because it’s something that, to some people in America is not that cool, but for this whole country to really embrace it [is cool].

From when you first started shooting until now, has there been any points in your career where you felt like it was not for you?

I think a weird thing for me is, as I’m getting older, skateboarding photography is hard. You’re basically a glorified criminal. You’re documenting trespassing, destruction of property. Do I want to deal with cops at 38? No. I don’t want to jump fences and deal with that. But I’m a skater and I always say that as long as I’m skating, I’m going to shoot skating. As for photography, the thing is I’ve never looked at photography as a job. I’ve always enjoyed photography so I’m not working. It’s just second nature to me because I’ve always enjoyed it and it’s always something that I’ve wanted to do.


The Doors Skateboarding Opens


What avenues does skateboarding open in photography?

I think skateboarding is such an influential culture. Especially American culture, but now worldwide culture. I’m in Hong Kong showing this stuff because of skating. I think skating to me is an art form and it’s self-expression and it’s also your environment. You go to a skate spot that’s on the street, you see real shit. You see homeless people. You see crazy people. You don’t see that if you’re in a gym, playing basketball indoors. You don’t interact with real life. Skateboarding has also taught me about art and music. It’s just like a big influence on so many things. Especially now that skating is cool; when I was a kid, skating wasn’t cool. You’d be beaten up if you were a skater. Skating is everywhere now - Justin Bieber skates. Anyone who skates, you’re my bro. I love it. It’s so funny though, the types of skaters that would be so embarrassed about certain people who skate.

How would skate photographers set themselves apart?
Now it’s weird because the focus isn’t on magazines anymore. I think being a skate photographer is all about... you have to be shooting good skating. You could be the best photographer in the world, but if you’re shooting average skating, no one's going to pay attention. So to me, it’s really about getting with the best skater. You could take a bad photo of the best trick and that’s going to get run over taking the best photo of a bad trick. Nowadays - being a photographer, period - I wouldn’t know. People ask me, “How did you get started” and I don’t know.

Did digital photography change your perception of this art and craft?
Yeah, but I’ve always been very into the progression of equipment. I started working with 35mm and then I went to medium format, and then I went to 4x5. I don’t like to shoot one way; I like to shoot all ways. I’m stoked I was around when digital photography first got invented. Now it’s on everyone’s phone, but I was around when it was not cool. To me, they all serve a purpose. I’m carrying a phone camera on me right now. Do I wish I had my digital? Sometimes. Do I wish I had my film on me? Yeah.

After shooting pretty much everyone in the spotlight, is there anything more you want to capture?
[Laughs] We were just talking about this. Obama. Tyler was just like, "If you want it, make it happen." That would be amazing as there’s always someone. Aphex Twin would be insane to shoot. I just shot Marshawn Lynch yesterday, he was a big one on my list of people to shoot.

The list still growing?
I shoot things that I’m a fan of, I’d love to shoot Drake. Someone that’s doing something fresh, as a photographer it’s always cool to get something of them. I grew up and saw a lot of cool things as a kid before I was a photographer and I’m so heartbroken that I didn’t get to shoot it. Like I saw Nirvana play, I saw Fugazi play. I grew up on Ice Cube so to have shot him, I’m super stoked. I’m stoked that I shot The Neptunes in their heyday, because I look at my friends who brought their cameras to the Nirvana show, like “holy shit,” because I saw it but I didn’t shoot it. I’m always excited, especially with music; I mean Animal Collective, they’re one of my favorite bands and I’m very honored to have shot them a lot over the last five or six years since I became friends with them. If you’re constantly looking to find different subjects, that list will always continue to grow. There are a lot of old dead people I would have loved to shoot. I’m lucky to have shot Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins, because those are people I saw 25 years ago when I was 13 and I didn’t have a camera, but I’m still stoked to have shot them now.


Timeless Photography


So it gets to a point where you just need to keep a camera on you all the time.
That’s the biggest thing. There’s a lot of photos I would not have had if I didn’t have a camera. You know I look back at like really funny photos that you just have, that were all just a point and shoot. I think that’s the funniest thing about photography. I have a photo of Beckham at a Lakers game. I didn’t SHOOT him, it’s more like “cool, I have a photo of Beckham.” It’s a lot of times where I just shoot something and it’s like, “At least I have that.”

You don’t know the significance until sometime after.
Absolutely, you never know. Whenever I see a band, I always take a couple of pictures. You know when we saw Nirvana, they were opening up for someone else. Even when we saw Explosions in the Sky, they’re a really big band in the States, the first time I saw them they played for like three people. I was blown away and I followed their music and they’re actually skaters so they recognized me at a show. They play to 10,000 people now. I saw them play to three and I didn’t bring a camera with me that night, but boy I wish I had.

I guess it’s easier now with phones.
Before, that was the whole problem because film was so expensive when I was a kid. You would shoot a roll in a week and you would shoot a couple photos of your friends skating and when they were getting closer to you, and would want to shoot it but you’d ask them to wait because a roll would cost 10 bucks and would cost 10 bucks to process and in high school… 20 bucks… you’re not getting 20 bucks often.

Have you ever thought about switching it up and going into something like photojournalism?
Of course, that’s always a thing a lot of people ask me. Like, "Why don’t you shoot fashion?" Well, I’m not a fan of that. Photojournalism, those photos are intense. When I think of it, I think of war photography. Those guys are fucking crazy. From National Geographic dudes all the way to dudes who are not in community-controlled environments. I think at this age, I’ve found my niche and I am a niche photographer. I found a niche, I’ve carved it, and I’m so happy to be doing what I’m doing. I don’t really feel a need to change it up. Personally I think there’s so much I could improve on; in this world that I need to just work on keeping it going.

Apart from the HVW8 exhibition that you’re doing, what’s next?
Nothing right on the radar really. I don’t do a lot of this stuff, so it’s pretty rare. I mean, more and more lately Tyler’s really pushing me to do this kind of stuff, but I have a backup company called Bravo, so I’m just working on that. It’s part of a bar called Black and that's part of a beer company called St. Archer. I have a lot of entrepreneurial stuff that I’m working on besides my photography. I do really want to start working on a book. I’ve never felt that way before but now that I’ve been shooting for 20 years, I feel like I have a body of work. I didn’t feel like that until about four years ago. I just think as a photographer, the longer you do it, the better your work is going to get. Even for this show, some of the stuff is old, but a good amount of it was shot in the last four years and I think that’s what's cool. Some of the stuff has been seen before, because you get those iconic images you’ve shot that people really like and you know, gravitate towards.

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HTC and It’s Nice That on The Pursuit of Brilliance

HTC and It's Nice That have teamed up to produce a charming animation discussing 'The Pursuit of Brilliance' following the celebratory launch of the HTC One M9 in the UK and the flurry of talks that ensued. The quaint short includes a few words from designer Nicolas Roope, architect Sam Jacob, body architect Lucy McRae and HTC Creative Director Daniel Hundt on how actively removing the thought of having to make everything "perfect" will yield better results.

By utilizing the talents of animators Oliver Sin and Tom Stockley along with storyboard artist Paul Layzell, It's Nice That has compiled a compelling selection of enlightening insights from the evening into one colorfully energetic short. From the difference between perfection and brilliance to effectively executing an idea, the animation is wholly inspiring and not at all heavy going. Head on over to It's Nice That directly to read the full story and see an exclusive selection of animations.

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Nike Free Socfly SD Black/White-Pink Flash-True Yellow

In stark contrast to the predominately grey and white versions of the new silhouette, Nike Sportswear presents a bold multicolored edition of its Free Socfly. Essentially pairing an updated take on the LunarFly 306's laceless upper with a Free 3.0 sole unit, this particular edition of the new design adopts a Black/White-Pink Flash-True Yellow colorway, coupling black synthetic overlay with gradient-adorned mesh, a white sole, and matching Swoosh branding. This summertime slip-on can be found now at Switzerland's Titolo while supplies last.

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Shlohmo – Dark Red (Album Stream)

A week ahead of next week's official release, Shlohmo's upcoming Dark Red has been made available for streaming in its entirety. Marking the debut of a darker, heavier sound from the Los Angeles-based producer, the sophomore LP features 11 tracks in all and includes previously-released cuts like "Beams" and "Buried." Intended to be "devastating and violent" and "polarizing," Dark Red is due out April 7 and can be heard now via The New York Times.

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Nike Free OG ’14 Woven “Light Stone”

Nike knows that sometimes basic is best, and continues to roll out classic colors in its popular Free OG ’14 silhouette. After a first look at the Black/White-Cool Gray colorway a few days ago, now we are getting a look at the Light Stone variety. The shoe's signature woven upper is presented in a unique off-white hue, with tonal midsole and laces, a smoothened toebox and contrast gray heel branding completing the look. The Nike Free OG '14 Woven "Light Stone" is available at Nike retailers, including Titolo, now.

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Microsoft Releases a Preview of Its “Project Spartan” Browser

After officially closing the books on the Internet Explorer brand a few weeks ago, Microsoft is releasing a preview of its latest browser, currently dubbed "Project Spartan." Key initial features include Cortana, the company’s digital assistant that lives in both current builds of Windows Phone and Windows 10, highlighted pen capabilities, Reading List and Reading View functions and a new rendering engine to ensure your web experience is faster, more secure and more reliable. The preview was release with the caveat that it is "not a polished, ready-for-everyone release," and that it is available only for Windows Insiders for a short time as a means to gain feedback.

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Scott Schuman Meets the New Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS

Porsche has teamed up with popular streetstyle photographer Scott Schuman to help highlight the beautiful new 911 Targa 4 GTS. Schuman runs the much-lauded fashion blog The Sartorialist, and this new video sees him taking the 911 on a trip from Milan to Paris as he shuffles between Fashion Weeks. Schuman calls out the car's impressive balance of modern features and interior luxuries with the beautiful classic design elements that Porsche is known and loved for. He also speaks about the joy of driving itself. Enjoy the video above.

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Azealia Banks “Ice Princess” Music Video

Azealia Banks plays the role of a frozen Medusa in the new music video for her Broke With Expensive Taste cut "Ice Princess." Directed by We Were Monkeys, the animated piece sees the icy Banks joined by frozen ninjas as they dance on a giant, soaring serpent. Check out the crazy video above and head on over to HYPETRAK for more from Azealia Banks.

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iLoveMakonnen – Drink More Water 5 (Mixtape)

Naturally, this Tuesday marks the latest release from iLoveMakonnen as the Atlanta-based artist comes through with Drink More Water 5. Following last year's self-titled EP and the third and fourth installments in his Drink More Water mixtape series, the latest DMW installment features 11 tracks in all and includes previously unreleased cuts like "Drink More Water 5 Freestyle" and "Super Clean." Highlighted by appearances from some of the ATL's finest -- Migos, Rome Fortune, Rich The Kid, and Gucci Mane all offer up assists -- the mixtape also features Chicago's very own Fredo Santana.

Drink More Water 5 can be downloaded and streamed above in its entirety.

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Carla Ridge Residence by McClean Design

Located along the prestigious Trousdale Ridgeline, the Carla Ridge Residence is a sprawling 24,424 square foot contemporary home with spectacular views of Beverley Hills and all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The luxurious two story residence has all the amenities you could ask for, include a 2 story waterfall, interior courtyard, 12 seat screening room, billiard room, cigar lounge, gym and a steam room. The upper level features 12 ft ceilings with glazing on all four sides letting the light permeate into the spacious living and dining interior, and also plays host to the master suite that equipped with a lavish master bathroom. Marble floors extend out to the terrace with an infinity pool and spa area, while the outdoor kitchen is outfitted with a stainless steel grill and dining table. The lower level features additional guest suites and the wide array of facilities, which are all centered around the striking interior courtyard. View the photo set of the Carla Ridge Residence above and get a closer look of the interior in the video below.

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Square Enix’s Variant Play Arts Kai Boba Fett & Stormtrooper

Square Enix—the game manufacturer responsible for the Final Fantasy series, among others—is also known for its production of high-end action figures, and for its latest release is taking on some of the most iconic characters from the Star Wars universe. Releasing under its Play Arts Kai sub-brand are a reimagined Stormtrooper and Boba Fett, but these aren't your regular child-friendly action figures: Along with a more menacing appearance, extended posturing capabilities and additional articulation points, these carry a price tag of ¥12,000 (approximately $100 USD). The Stormtrooper and Boba Fett figures join Darth Vader in Play Arts Kai's Star Wars lineup, and will be available for purchase starting in July.

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Kanye West and Rick Rubin Are Working on Justin Bieber’s Upcoming Album

Fresh off the airing of his Comedy Central Roast, Justin Bieber sat down with USA Today for an exclusive interview. Focusing on his yet-to-be-released LP and "growing up" as of late, Bieber revealed in the piece that he has been working with both Kanye West and Rick Rubin on the upcoming album, scrapping a bevy of already completed works in favor of a complete overhaul. Said Bieber:

My whole direction has changed. What you are thinking about all the time is what you write, and now that I'm thinking about more positive things, it completely changes my music. I had to re-do my whole (new) album. It was done, but it didn't match up to where I am now and where my head's at. I want to tell my story, but I also want to give people hope. I lost hope for a while, I was in a dark place, but it's about getting out of that rut. It's about knowing there's sunshine on the other side.

You can check out the entirety of the interview over at USA Today's website while highlights from the aforementioned Roast can be seen on Comedy Central's YouTube channel.

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