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Radcollector.com: Columns | Michael Cohen | Element

Michael Cohen


14 April 2015, 21.25 | Posted in Skateboard Photography | No comments »



RC: What is it about skateboarding photography that motivates you to shoot each day?

Darwen: Everything about shooting skateboarding is different each day. It isn’t like showing up to a studio and shooting portraits the entire day. For example, each time you go shooting a photo the light constantly changes, skaters can land things in 5 minutes or 5 hours, you have run ins with cops and people which make shooting a difficult challenge, the list just goes on. It’s always an adrenaline rush not knowing what is going to happen and the unpredictability makes each day exciting.

RC: As the youngest senior photographer in
Slam Magazine’s history, what steps did you take to getting to where you are today?

Darwen: I took a lot of advice from Dave Chami and Mark Barber. I had reached out to them because I admired their work when I began shooting photos and they ended up giving me advice to where I needed to be. Dave and Mark provided me with insight and the necessary steps in order to be successful. They critiqued my work and always offered feedback on how I could continue my progression. Without a couple of mentors in the skate industry I wouldn’t have known what to do. It paid off knowing that they had my back.

RC: We’ve heard that you used to submit photos to Dave Chami to critique, what advice do you have to offer aspiring photographers who are trying to make a living out of capturing skateboarding?

Darwen: My advice would be to pin point what type of photography you like as far as look and feel and don’t be afraid to contact other photographers across the globe, that’s the greatest thing about the internet these days… these guys are literally a click of a button away. Don’t hesitate to email them and ask questions. It’s the most rewarding feeling to hear from another photographer that your work is progressing and getting better each day.
Hit someone up and listen to their opinions. You can never be right or wrong.

RC: What does the average day look like for Jake Darwen?

Darwen: I wake up, grab a coffee, call and text around to see who is in town and I plan accordingly from there. There’s never really any strict guideline I follow day in day out.
Alex Lawton from Brisbane is here at the moment and he is staying at my place. So I will shoot with him for the entire duration of his trip then someone else will come down to visit and I will shoot with them etc.
Other than that, I will ask around and see what locals feel like shooting and most likely just skate in the city.

RC: Who are your top most inspirational skateboarding photographers?

Darwen: I would have to say Brian Gaberman, Anthony Acosta, Dave Chame, Mike O’Meally and John Coulthard.

RC: Element recently released the Spring 2015 “Perspective” Collection featuring some of your work. Can you elaborate on how your relationship with Element blossomed and how did you collaborate to release a collection together?

Darwen: I started shooting for Element in New Zealand when my good friend Harris Taylor was working there. Harris was helping me out when he could with different projects for Element and he had mentioned that it may lead to more in the near future. At the time, I was only 17 and didn’t really take into account that Harris was opening the door of opportunity for me. I was excited to just be traveling across New Zealand with him on his sales trips and shooting at the time. Eventually, I moved to Australia and kept shooting for Element and traveled with the team.
Fast forward a few years… One day I attended an Element sales meeting in Australia and there was talk of potentially getting a line of t-shirts for the advocate perspective series. From there, I started to receive emails from the European team who wanted photos for the design process of the t-shirts. From there it just snowballed.

RC: Did you play an integral role in the design aesthetics and process of the collection?

Darwen: I received an email from Cole Matthews and he really liked a photo I had shot on my website. He wanted me to replicate something similar with an Element rider but luckily it was already of someone that rode for them back here in Australia so it worked out perfectly. Other than that image I was in charge of choosing what I wanted to send through for the collection.

RC: So what is next for Jake Darwen? You’ve accomplished quite a lot at a very young age. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

Darwen: Hopefully trying to live in America. That was the ultimate goal ever since I started shooting photos.
I just want to keep pushing and progressing myself. I would love to work for a magazine in the states. That would be my ultimate dream.

RC: Out of your camera bag, what are your “go-to-items”?

Darwen: My go to items are my 50mm lens, 10.5mm fisheye, and my Nikon D800. Those two lenses will typically be on my camera from the previous spot or day before.

RC: Did you shoot digitally or with film first?

Darwen: I shot digitally first because I couldn’t afford shooting film. I didn’t have a job at the time, so I just saved up to shoot digitally. When I had enough and made the purchase, it was all go from there.

RC: What is your favorite country to shoot in and why?

Darwen: My favorite country to shoot is New Zealand and my favorite city is my hometown of Auckland.
I first shot there when I was learning. Being able to go back with a different skill set I am able to go to the same spots and shoot it from a different perspective. I believe I’ve learned so much from traveling and it has benefited me creatively. It is rewarding to go back a hometown spot and view it with a new outlook.

RC: Out of your entire photography archive, what is your most memorable photo that you have ever captured?

Darwen: One of the most memorable photos for me would have to be Matt Miller’s power slide at the Great Wall of China on one of the DC trips. I don’t know why he brought his board, but I think he just wanted to shoot something for instagram at the time.
Matt and I stopped at one of the points to just look out. We started walking back down the Great Wall and thought it would be cool to get a powerslide shot, but we were both skeptical because the ground was cobble stone… which meant it may not slide well. Matt tried it once and slipped out, it was honestly the slipperiest stuff in the world. He was surprised how well it slid and from there he waited for the tourists to clear and he was able to get a solid one.
It was memorable because other than Blabac’s photo of Danny Way, not too many people have been able to shoot something at the Great Wall of China. So being able to shoot the power slide felt pretty unique because it is one of the most monumental places in the world.

RC: Can you describe what it feels like when you are at a spot and you realize that you have captured
a piece of skateboarding history?

Darwen: I don’t know if I have captured skateboarding history yet. I just can’t tell. I haven’t been around long enough. Maybe in ten years time, I can look back and realize I have, but I feel like I just don’t know yet. You really don’t know what you have shot that could be history it’s always unpredictable. That is what inspires me to keep shooting.

RC: Is there anyone you would like to thank?

Darwen: I would like to thank Mark Barber and Dave Chami for all of the help. I appreciate the points of advice and direction you both have provided me with.
Thank you to Harris Taylor for all you have done for me as well. Huge thanks to all of the magazine editors for running my photos through the years.
I can’t forget my Mum, my sister Emma and her husband Ash. They have helped me monetarily as well as morally. They have supported me through it all and having a family supporting what I’m doing is awesome.
I can’t forget everyone I shot. Thank you Element for allowing me to have the opportunity to have a collection. Stoked!
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