April 22, 2011
Taji Ameen interviews brilliant skate photographer Eric Staniford
I first met Eric Staniford when I was living out in LA. I had stopped going to Cal Arts, didn’t have too many friends, and all I wanted to do was skateboard. Luckily, I ran into Eric through a mutual friend, and since we shared the same East Coast vibe, we hit it off instantly, and went out shredding for months after. In the time since I met him, he became infamous for his skateboard and lifestyle photos, and recently I caught up with him and asked him about his photographic process and everything else he has been doing out West.
How did you get into skating and photography?
Eric Staniford: I was probably 12 or something. I saw a documentary on Glen E Friedman. He was talking about capturing the intensity of a single moment. I was like “I wanna do THAT!”
When did you move from Florida to Los Angeles?
I drove here alone in a Dodge Neon from ocean to ocean in three days. I went from San Antonio to Los Angeles in one shot, non-stop for 23 hours. I finally made it here here on Thanksgiving 2008 at 4 AM.
Does the change in scenery affect your photography?
There is a lot more people trying to make things happen out here. Skateboarders, models, and actors are all killing it. There’s lots of projects happening all the time. I don’t have to wait for someone to come to town or whatever, it’s all right here. On the down side of things, I am afraid of getting caught with out a filming permit. Also, I pay more then two times the rent as I did back in Florida. Thumbs down to that.
What’s the deal skating downtown Los Angeles? Do you have any tips for visitors?
Keep the session moving fast. Security is on point. At most of the spots you have only two tries to land your trick. And most importantly, be nice! Don’t ruin the day for the next crew by pissing off the security guard. Most the time if you’re nice, you can come back without a problem. You might even get an extra try or two if you act right.
Where do you go when you’re not skating?
I hang out at my place a lot and paint. If I’m out I’m probably going to art shows, museums, or even a comedy club. Other than that, I like to walk down Sunset Boulevard and watch the crazies.
How would you describe the non-skate Los Angeles vibe like?
It’s not as mellow as I expected. Except for Venice Beach maybe. However, it’s still rad there’s always something happening and tons of people to meet. Tons of cultures.
When your not shooting skating, what are you shooting?
I like to mix it up with some fashion and fine art work. In particular, I shoot tattoo pin-up stuff, bands, and some headshots here and there.
Back in the day, you knew a lot of people who went to Cal Arts, right?
I was homeless in Santa Clarita, California. I had some friends that took classes at Cal Arts, so I would squat in the artist studios and on people’s couches for about three or four months. Eventually, I ended up having a show of my paintings in the Main Gallery. I sold a few paintings and was able to get my place that I still live in now.
Could you tell me a little bit more about the school?
Cal Arts is magical. The whole place has this excited energy, and is full of creative vibes. The place is also packed with gorgeous, smart, artistic young women. If you can’t find inspiration there, you can’t find it.
What’s the new Valencia skatepark like? When I was there it was super weird.
It’s arguably the best park in Southern California. It has everything except a flat rail and a pole jam. It’s banks, ledges, wedges, quarters, stairs, rails, hubbas, euros, a snake run and a killer bowl. The city did it all just right. No pad nannies either. [laughs]
Any plans for the future?
Basically to just keep on the grind. If I’m lucky I’ll be getting a job as an art teacher so I can pay bills comfortably and keep shooting, skating and painting. One day at a time.