How to shoot great skateboarding photos

I’d rather be skateboarding than doing almost anything.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may have noticed a lot of skateboard photography and videos lately. And some of them are of me! (Check out the video at the bottom of this post.)

It is not lost on me, that I’m probably having my mid-life crisis. 🙂

So be it! Who cares?



I’m having the most fun I’ve had in years!

I feel like a happy go lucky teenager again. I’m meeting all sorts of skaters of all ages who are all quirky, introverted and smart, and who skateboard for the very same reasons I do. Because it’s simply fun. And I have just as much fun skateboarding as I do taking photos of skateboarding.

In this post I’ll share some of my techniques for shooting skateboarding in skateparks.

In skateparks you can get close to the action. It helps if you have friends who skateboard, as you can get to know the skaters and their styles, so you can capture better photos.

You can apply many of these tips to other kinds of sports photography too.

I’ve been using the new Lumix GX8 for my action photos lately. Read all about my first impressions of this camera over at LumixStories.ca

Tip 1: Shutter speed is the most important setting

  • 1/1000 second works best for me. In a pinch I’ve use 1/500 second.
  • You might have to use a higher ISO if you can’t freeze the skaters.
  • Don’t worry about depth of field stuff.

Tip 2: Choose the decisive moment

  • If you are stuck on this, take some photos and ask the skaters to help you choose which ones best capture the peak moments.
  • Capture the emotion.
  • Show faces.
  • Demonstrate effort.
  • With observation, over a short time you will learn what’s best.

Tip 3: Get close to your subject

  • A wide angle lens may be needed to capture the whole scene. Most of the photos above were shot with the Lumix 12-35mm, and I’ve just ordered the Lumix 7-14mm ultra wide lens.
  • Skaters want to see park features, like the edge of the bowls and where they were in relation to the bottom of the transition, for example.
  • Show the height of things.
  • Illustrate the difficulty of the trick.
  • You need to make the skaters look like heroes! Merely being in focus, with good composition, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good photo. It has to have the something more.

Tip 4: Focus

  • With the Lumix GX8, I use AFF (follow focus) and AFS (one shot).
  • In my experience, AFS works better when using the high speed burst mode.
  • When in doubt, manually focus on the area you think your skater will be in.
  • With a wide angle lens, almost everything will be in focus, so don’t worry if you didn’t pick the perfect spot.

Tip 5: Use simple compositions

  • Skateparks are busy and often have messy backgrounds. Try to isolate your subject as much as possible.
  • Change your shooting angle: shoot bottom up, shoot top down. Heck, shoot into the sun! Why not!
  • Work with shadows. Use them in your compositions.
  • Pay attention to positive and negative space in your photo.
  • Experiment and try things you’ve never done before. For me, that was pointing the camera into the sun and getting lots of flare in the shots.

Tip 6: Get involved in the community you want to photograph

  • Make friends with the skaters in your area. Ask them to pose for you. I’ve only been refused once, and that’s because the guy hadn’t perfected his trick yet.
  • Post your photos on social media (with your url of course) and encourage sharing.
  • Support local skateboard clubs and International skate charities, like Skateistan. I do!

Tip 7: Do it just for fun!

  • If you start trying to make money at this, all the fun quickly drains out of it.
  • However, if a skateboard company wants to use your photos, or hire you to shoot for them, negotiate a fair price for your time and usage of your photos.

In future posts I’ll be teaching you some 4K Photo techniques with the Lumix GX8. It’s magical stuff.

Here’s a hybrid video I made of my girls skate club.

Stay tuned, and happy shredding.

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Daily skate photos and videos on my Instagram account. See you there!

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