First off, it’s been a while since we last spoke. How have you been?
I've been good man, been living in Brooklyn still but working and traveling a ton this fall. Can't complain a bit!
Working on any cool projects?
Mostly I've been doing commercial work lately, which is a nice change from the traditional editorial hustle. But it has still been a mix of both. I did a Volcom trip for Thrasher recently that was super fun. We did a traditional demo tour from Atlanta to Kansas City but traveled in their 1981 Wanderlodge RV which added a different flavor. It's in the latest issue. I've also been trying to shoot more personal work lately, a lot of street photography, which I love, but it's the most difficult type of photography out there in my opinion, so it's cool to give myself that challenge.
As a skateboarder yourself, how has skateboarding influenced your photography?
I've always been keen on freezing action moments. If there's no energy in a photo it seems less interesting to me for sure. I think that's what drew me to skating, in addition to the fact that I skated before shooting photos. I guess the main thing is that you always need is a frame of reference in skate photography, to show where someone is coming from and going to. Or at least imply it. It other types of photography that doesn't matter as much. That's why the skatepark story in everyone's hometown newspaper usually had a "guy in the sky" with no reference to height or difficulty. That kind of thing is pretty essential in action sports photography but may actually hinder you in other types. So it's been interesting, branching out and not necessarily needing to think that way to make a photo that makes sense.
You’ve often been praised for finding spots for photo shoots that others would miss. Is there a secret behind this skill?
Ha! I think there are two main factors. One was growing up in rural Virginia where there wasn't much to skate. We had to get creative and think outside the box. Also because I love to explore new areas and new things, when I follow that instinct, I end up in new and unusual places. I've found that nearly everywhere has spots to skate, maybe not too many, but there's always something. You just have to be willing to take a step into the unknown.
How important is location for a photoshoot? Are there any go-to locations you find yourself going back to for photos?
Location isn't everything, but it's a major factor. I get super inspired by good locations. If it's a strip mall in the IE or something it's probably not that cool looking no matter what the spot is. But never say never... I actually rarely go back to spots. In NYC I do because I live there but in other places not so much. NYC also looks so damn amazing that I don't mind repeating spots occasionally. I could go to the Bond St. gap again and again and not get tired of it.
How would you say your work differs from other skate photographers/more traditional skate photography?
Oh man, that's a tough one. I guess I take kind of a photojournalistic approach that most people probably don't do. I like to show the whole scene, so a lot of wider pulled back shots. I love sunrise photos... I find that all my favorite skate photos aren't lit so I try to limit my lighting as much as possible while still creating successful images. When I do light a shot, I try to do it in a cool way, or a subtle way, or something special about it. I try not to be too formulaic.
What’s one piece of gear you never leave your house without?
Lately my Fuji X100F is always with me. For skate photography in particular, I'd say my 85mm 1.4 is an absolute must.
Any plans to release a new book following your Skate The World book?
I'd like to do another book with a bit narrower of a scope. The world is a big place. It would be cool to do one that just focuses on something smaller, like a single trip, or variations on a theme.
And last but not least, any advice for aspiring photographers?
Do it for the love. It's an uphill battle and passion is the only thing that will get you through the rough spots.
Make sure to follow Jonathan Mehring on Instagram and check out his website!