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I Am A Nikon Street Photographer - Skateboarding

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Category: Professional Interviewed

I AM A Street Photographer - Skateboarding - Pro photographer Tom Van Schelven shares his skateboarding photography tips.

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Tom Van Schelven
Image by Tom Van Schelven 

Anglo-Dutch pro photographer Tom Van Schelven, 28, has been shooting street sports for the past four years. He has an intuitive attitude towards photography, built upon the notion that "if your camera is always on, your instincts will direct the lens". Unquestionably dedicated and remarkably daring, he is right at home sat between the concrete valleys of a sun-kissed skatepark.

Since turning professional, Tom has travelled the world living life through his viewfinder. A fan of street sports himself, he got involved in skate shoots when he worked as a photography assistant and realised the variety of shot compositions in skateboarding could bring his own portfolio to life. Flips, grabs, grinds and airtime require superfast shutter speeds and Tom’s graphic style of photography is epitomised by the harsh lighting and fluid movement he looks for when isolating subjects and reducing anything from the shot that disturbs the focus.

Keen to direct, and equally willing to receive input from skaters, he’ll continually get creative to catch a perfect shot, using manual settings. To shoot pro-skater Jak Tonge, he went out of his way to perch atop a ladder at the edge of a quarter pipe and crawl in the depths of a graffiti-laden bowl to experiment with new angles.

He comments: "For me, the Nikon D5200’s 24.1 megapixel resolution has a high enough pixel count to take a wide shot from a precarious vantage point and crop it down afterwards without losing any quality. I love shooting skateboarding like this, and you’ll see it often in my work. My lens of choice is the NIKKOR 24mm-70mm f/2.8 as it provides the flexibility required to adapt with the skater’s rapid movements".

Tom van Schelven’s tips for shooting skateboarding:
  • Know your subject – To capture really stunning shots, study the body language of the skater to anticipate their movements
  • Think about lighting – Shadows and surface reflection can actually enhance your images if you pay them enough attention
  • Aspire to simplicity – Look for crisp, clean contrasts and minimal subject matter 


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