Whatup Ando? So where you from and how’d you start skating?
What up! I’m from SF and I started skating when my cousin gave me my first skateboard in the late 80’s but id say I really got in to it around 90′ or 91′ that’s when i was able to go cruise around and really see people skating around the city and got in to reading Thrasher and watching videos and stuff like that.
What was skating like growing up for you? Did you ever try to get sponsored or anything?
Skating was rad when I was growing up. Growing up in SF in the 90s I was able to see and skate with most of the people that I looked up to in the mags and videos. I got really inspired by EMB and all the downtown SF spots and pretty much spent most of my time down there skating with homies. I tried to get sponsored for sure but never was on that level, I could do my thing but didn’t really go for it to hard. I always got a lot of free stuff from homies and from working at FTC at an early age so was never really tripping on getting sponsored that much.
So when did you start getting into photography?
I got in to photography when i was about 14 or 15, I would go skate with my friends and bring a disposable camera with me from Walgreen’s and shoot some stuff, then my homie Ian’s dad gave me a real nice Nikon that I had for a few years then gave back. Didn’t shoot a ton of stuff but was in to it and would always shoot photos of my family and some other random stuff. Around 17ish i got really in to making music and playing instruments, did that for many years and then when I was 23 got back in to photography and shooting skate stuff. I started to shoot polaroids of alot of skate dudes and just went from there. Dennis Mcgrath sold me some stuff and taught me few things and that got me really in to it, from that point on i was really hooked.
And how long have you been living in SF for?
I was born in SF grew up in the Richmond district and lived here till i was 19, then moved to New York for 5 years and came back been living here since.
When did you link up with FTC, and how did you become “the dude” of the shop?
I went to summer school the summer before freshman year of high school because my grades sucked, and it happened to be a few blocks away from FTC, the original FTC on Bush st, so I would go chill there everyday, I was really shy so i didn’t really talk to anyone for months. I would just read mags and watch videos and wait for pros to come in and stuff like that, then one day one of the guys there asked e if I wanted to help him out with something and I could pick out a video to keep. I said yes and asked for the color video. Basically he had me clean up a huge dead rat that was all maggot covered and nasty as fuck. From that day I started doing odd jobs for stickers, or random product used or whatever, and about a year later Kent opened up the store on Shrader st and asked me if I wanted to work one day a week, and of course I said yes. Over the years of working there I got to meet everyone and see all the ins and outs of what made FTC so tight. I think this was a really special time for skateboarding and FTC was right there in the forefront so I paid attention, tried to learn from others good and bad, and try to do things the same way that guys like John Vid, and Joey Six footer did back in the day. Those dudes and Kent were like my mentors in a way and taught me a lot about everything to do with FTC and beyond.
What do you do on a day to day basis for them?
I do a little bit of everything really, mostly marketing,social media stuff, shoot photos for catalogs and products do some web stuff, help with general production stuff, and team manage. I really enjoy the team stuff.
Have you ever fanned out taking photos of someone?
For sure! Taking a photo of Mike Carroll, Tommy G, or any dude I grew up watching skate i fan out a little bit on the inside. Over the years I have been on some trips with some heavy guys and I have fanned out a little to myself on a lot of dudes, but usually keep it to myself.
I know you recently got married, congrats! Has anything changed as far as being able to get out and shoot or just hang out?
Not really, I am a little more of a homebody these days, I would say now when I go shoot i have it a little more planned out, I don’t just roll out and see what happens like I used to. I don’t have a car anymore so that changed it more than the marriage thin. My wife is really supportive of me doing my thing so its pretty rad for sure. She is a very creative person so she gets it when I have to get out. I also really enjoy shooting alot more non skate stuff now so been doing a lot more of that and that kinda keeps my bug to be creative fulfilled for sure.
What’s yr camera setup look like?
Canon 5d mark iii and a few different lenses, 50mm, 16-35mm, fish eye and a few others but generally you can get the job done with those 3. A bunch of random flashes and some other random shit like tripods or whatever.
Do you like doing video or photo work more?
Honestly I love shooting photos more than anything and I really enjoy filming when i have a project to work on or if i feel like getting some exercise. Filming is a lot of work but fun. Sounds crazy but also holding a camera when filming really starts to hurt my hand, I have broke it some many times skating that at this point its kinda fucked.
What are yr thoughts on going to school for photography?
I think its a rad idea and I wished i would have done it, in fact i still might, but really if you love something you do it enough you kinda learn what you need to do to make it happen. I know there is a ton I could still learn from but i think with proper inspiration, and with practice you can do whatever you want to do. Photography is no different.
What’s up with the project yr working on now with homeless people? How’d that come about?
I broke my arm last year, and at the time I was shooting a lot of skating using flashes and stands and shit, and I couldn’t set those up due to the fact my arm had no strength and my cast was so fucked hand was useless. So I went out one day with my camera and just walked a few miles and shot a bunch of stuff, like regular street photog stuff nothing amazing, but met a bunch of people and most of the cool ones were homeless. I shot one photo of this man and talked with him for a while and I thought the photo was really powerful, so the next day did the same thing but really focused on trying to shoot homeless people and talk to them a little bit. Started to get a good thing going and then got the idea to bring stuff to give to them. Asked one guy what he would want the most other than money and he said socks. So, got a bunch of socks and started going out, giving out socks and getting these peoples stories, chilling with them and smoking cigs going in to their camps stuff like that and got hooked. I go in phases with this project and one day hope to have it be something that helps people change the idea of who homeless people are, the causes of it and the reasons people end up on the street. It really interests me and I love getting in to these weird worlds that are right in front of us and most people don’t bother to try to understand or document. I have a rule tho, I will never shoot a pic unless I ask and in all of the pics you have to see their eye, full eye contact. I never want them to feel like I am exploiting them or taking advantage of them. I want them to feel comfortable and hyped to tell me their story and let me photograph them. Its been really good for me and I love it and all the people I have met.
What’s the craziest interaction you’ve had with someone while working on it?
I had a knife pulled on me one night, dude thought I was trying to steal his bike, dude was kinda on one and really didn’t scare me because he seems a little fragile, so I stood my ground told him what I was doing offered him some cigs and socks, and dude ended up being one of my favorite people. I haven’t seen him in a while apparently he got of the streets a few months back and is now in a hotel somewhere. I’m hyped for him.
Have any skate projects lined up?
Not really, actually looking for some inspiration right now with skate stuff. Really its the people that get me hyped. Shooting with guys like Jabari Pendleton, Roger Krebs, Drake Johnson, Dan Charlton and all the young bucks, and the homies is what I love to do. Any one that gets me hyped on or off the board I’m down, if not its a little harder for me
Who are yr favorite people to go skate with?
Probably the homies, Jabari for sure, Roger, James Capps, Lucus Erlebach, Tory Hereford, all the FTC Young Bucks, the homies in Spain Raul and Anto, Matt Jones, and any one else that gets me hyped.
What about photographers that get you hyped?
Dam that’s a big one. Obviously in skating there is so many, Dennis Mcgrath, Mike Blabac, Bryce Kanights, Kyle Camarillo, Joe Brook, Dave Chami,and Seancho those dudes really got me hyped and still do. I love photographers outside of skating and that’s where I have been drawing most of my inspiration lately like like Alberto Korda, Michael Zagaris, the homie Charlie @prspc.tive is off the hook, my homie Marcell Turner is killing it right now, Dylan Maddux, Ken Goto, Boogie, Elan Watson kills it,Bruce Gilden, martin Schoeller, so many I could go on and on…
What’s up with Ian Johnson’s rap tapes?
Oh dam dudes off the hook! Drops bars of hot fire. Me and him used to make music a lot and he still does. He was actually signed in Japan and has made a bunch of rad stuff.
How long have you been whipping that scooter?
5 years riding dirty, that’s my baby. The lil homie Baby Blue.
Who are some kids coming up in SF that yr hyped on?
All the young Bucks, that like family to me, Tory Hereford, Jesse Viera is amazing, Drake Jonson and Dan Charlton are insane, love all the snack dudes they kill it, Roger is the shit, Taylor Nadia, Matt Finely, Sean Greene, Trevor Thompson, Sam Zentner, any kid who just skates and loves it.
Who’s the worst employee at FTC?
TAYLOR! WITHOUT A DOUBT!
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen on the streets?
Shit, I’m old as fuck so there’s been a bunch of crazy shit who knows…
What will you be doing ten years from now?
Hopefully retired in Barcelona with my wife drinking sangria and smoking a cig at the beach getting a tan, chillin with my homies.
What about ten minutes from now?
Chilling with my wife and my homies drinking sangria and smoking a cig…
Have any advice for kids trying to learn photography?
Just shoot, don’t worry about what camera, what format, or any of that shit. Try to live a rad life and document it and you will get rad shit. Have fun you’ll do it more and get better at it. And try to have a camera on you as much as you can, you never know when you gonna want it till you want it.