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Through the Viewfinder :: Behind Patrick O'Dell's 12 Favorite Photos

Through the Viewfinder :: Behind Patrick O'Dell's 12 Favorite Photos

By Leland Ware

As a companion piece to our in-depth interview with Patrick O’Dell, the creator of Epicly Later’d, we thought it would be fitting to have him pick out his favorite skate photos that he’s shot over the years, and give the inside story on how they happened and why they are significant. Have a look at Patrick’s picks below, from shooting Chet Childress in a partially demolished pool, to Mark Gonzales iconic Fourstar ad (that wasn’t Mark’s first choice), to Jason Dill’s lipslide down a rail at the Brooklyn Banks that Dill got in an argument with Jamie Thomas over—these photos each have a unique story behind them.

Patrick may not think that he’s much of a skate photographer, but these images prove otherwise.

Lee Smith Menace Ad

“When I look at it now, I’m so thrilled that I shot a Menace ad. I don’t think I made a plan with Lee. I lived near there, I would just creep around and be like, ‘Let me shoot that.’ I think I had shot with Lee a couple of times where we drove around trying to get a photo. I want to say that this is just a session or something at Union Square in San Francisco. His back foot looks kind of suspicious, but I do remember him rolling away. I don’t have much memory of shooting it because… I would just go down to Union Square and shoot a lot of stuff and then mail it. I mailed it to Menace, Kareem Campbell left me a voicemail, and I was really stoked. I was really stoked to have Kareem Campbell leave me a message—I would play it for people.”

Jason Dill Volcano Ollie

“There were more outtakes of this, some of them were sharper. I remember I had this idea that I was gonna use flashes, and I put a yellow filter on the flashes to make it look like the sun was shining on the skater, when really it was the flash. But that one, the flash didn’t go off, and it’s a little blurry. It’s not that sharp. I thought the one with the flashes looked fake—it didn’t look that cool, and we liked this one. Jake Phelps almost didn’t want to run it because he said it was blurry and his feet looked suspicious. I don’t remember if he made that exact frame. It was more paved on the other side of the volcano. On this side of the volcano, it’s way rougher. It was a little easier on the other side, but he was doing big ollies. I remember it was funny, he was really into it because he wanted it to look like Neil Blender or Mark Gonzales. That was around the time—I don’t want to say when he first moved to New York—but that was early in his New York kick.”

Chet Childress Pool

“They were ripping out that pool, and Buddy [Nichols] and Rick [Charnoski] invited me to shoot, which is why Rick is in the background. I almost asked him to move. But since it was his session, he had seniority. I shot some fisheye ones from below, which came out pretty cool. The crane was ripping out the pool—the pool was actually in the process of getting demolished then. We asked the guy, the crane operator, to put the claws there and he did it. That was almost a cover of Thrasher, but it didn’t work out. But yeah, it was just a session. They were destroying the pool and we got that photo.”

Tosh Townsend Emerica Ad

“This one’s not that big of a deal, but I remember thinking that it looks cool, and I like the Emerica stuff. I think that was during an Emerica This Is Skateboarding tour. They just finished the video, and they did a premiere tour around the world. I think we just went out skating, it was him—Suski—and me. We just went out shooting skate photos and got that one. It’s on the West Side of Manhattan. Yogi Proctor was their art director, he kind of came up with that look.”

Tony Manfre Ollie

“Tony had to ollie up onto a little sidewalk to get to this, and then ollie again. That was cool. When I was shooting skate photos, the thing that was annoying is that you have to make the trick look good first. It’s not often that you can make the trick look good, but also have the photo look good. Half the time, you just end up shooting fisheye. So all of those ones that are sort of normal lens, or long lens, are such a good opportunity. You don’t have to make something look bigger. I could have gone up there with a fisheye and made it look bigger. That was in Portugal. We were on an Enjoi tour. I don’t know, I was just stoked to shoot straight lens.”

Bryan Herman Frontside Kickflip

“I went to Barcelona for fun. I think I bought my own ticket. It’s kind of weird, Spanky’s girlfriend at the time was Chan Marshall, the singer [Cat Power]. She was recording, and then Spanky was out there with Herman, and these dudes were out skating. I remember thinking, ‘I want to go, that will be fun.’ It was weird, I would go skate with Spanky everyday, but Herman would go with Ali Boulala and the Flip dudes. The dude in the foreground was Flip’s photographer. I remember, I was kind of not getting to shoot with Herman. But because this was basically a skatepark quarter pipe—I mean it’s not a good skatepark, but that thing is meant for skating. I think the other guy didn’t really want to shoot it, it wasn’t like real street. But I was stoked. I was like, ‘God, Herman is so good.’ He has the best frontside kickflips. I just shot that with a Hasselblad, and it came out good. I always thought that too: skate photos don’t have to be the gnarliest tricks. Sometimes skaters look at progression and they want the best tricks. I think we’ve learned now, more than back then, sometimes they can just look rad. It doesn’t matter.”

Bobby Puleo Heads

“It’s hard for me to separate how interesting Bobby Puleo’s skating was and all the dickish things he’s said to me and other people. He treated skating as an art form. He took it really serious. I respect him and what he’s done for skating. He’s had so many of these interviews where he just shit talks on different skaters and skateboarding. He’s his own worst enemy, I think he would be better remembered as a legend if he didn’t rub so many people the wrong way. But he had a big impact creatively and conversely on shaping some of skateboarding’s unwritten rules. And I am excited that I got to shoot pictures of him.”

Zered Bassett 50-50

“This was on a Zoo York tour. I didn’t get to shoot many big rails. I think this was in Atlanta. Zered is just a sick skater, I met him when he was little. He’s just such a sick skater. I don’t know, when I was going through all of my photos, I found that one—I almost forgot about it. I had a couple of sequences and a couple of photos of Zered. He’s just good man, he’s a badass skater. I remember him making that, and it was big. I thought, ‘Oh man, this dude is burly.’ Again, I didn’t have to put a fisheye on it to make it look big. It’s already big.”

Anthony Pappalardo Back 5-0

“I want to say that this is in D.C.—I went on a little Alien trip and he was on it. I think that’s Bill Strobeck or Joe Castrucci filming. I think I like it because it’s him, and he’s still one of my favorites. His episode is one that I’m happy with. I just like Anthony. He’s obviously eccentric. He’s a little bit like Puleo or something, but different. I think maybe it’s similar to the next one, the Gonz one. I feel privileged to have gotten to shoot a skate photo of Anthony. I don’t think the trick is that rad. It’s just a backside 5-0, but he is just so sick. He’s one of my favorite skaters.”

Mark Gonzales Fourstar Ad

“This was down by the Courthouse in New York. I remember Fourstar wanted an ad of him. Sam Smyth called and wanted photos of him. It was really before longboards were such a big thing. It didn’t seem cheesy to have him on a longboard, you know? Yeah, and he just did that huge wallie. I think it’s because the board didn’t have a nose, that’s why he could bash it up like that. If you had a nose, your nose would just stick into the thing. I don’t know, I was so stoked when I got it. We just rolled around, and we got that. When I was looking through the camera getting it, I was like, ‘Holy shit, I’m shooting the Gonz. This is sick!’

I remember we also shot a smith grind on that same board at a skatepark where he was wearing pads. It was a skatepark ledge on top of a bank, it was kind of bad. He was wearing pads, and he did a smith grind on that board. I remember we got them all back, and we were looking at the photos. He was like, ‘I want to use this one.’ Alex Olson was there, and he was like, ‘I don’t think they’re going to be stoked on this.’ I couldn’t tell if he was fucking with us or not because I didn’t want to tell Mark that something he did wasn’t good. But I think he was kind of just fucking with us, like, ‘I want to use this.’ I was just kind of like, ‘Yeah, it’s cool.’ But Alex just came out and was like, ‘Dude, no one’s going to be stoked on this.’ Gonz got all bummed, but I think he was just fucking with us.”

Jason Dill Lipslide

“I was just out with Dill and we shot this. The funny thing is that Jamie Thomas was there, and he backside lipslid it. And I also shot it. Dill was telling Jamie, ‘You can’t use it. You always do rails, this is my only rail. I’m using mine.’ To me, and to him, he said, ‘We’re using mine because you always do shit like this.’ But anyway, because of where I was sitting, and because I wasn’t really shooting Jamie, I was shooting with Dill, [Jamie’s] just didn’t really come out good. The angle, it looked really bad and you couldn’t see his face or anything—it was just a butt shot anyway. I remember later, Jamie called Thrasher and was like, ‘Where’s that backside lipslide photo?’

Well, Burnett called me and was like, ‘Hey, do you have Jamie Thomas backside lipsliding that thing?’ And I was like, ‘It didn’t come out, it looked bad.’ I think they didn’t believe me because they thought I was holding out just to let Dill have his photo. But really, it was just the way it looked good for Dill, looked bad for Jamie. And I think he only did it once, so I just didn’t get it. I was set up for the other one. So anyways, I hope Jamie doesn’t think I purposely threw a photo away.”

Tino Razo Rookie Ad

“That’s McCarren Park, which now I think has concerts, and they’ve redone it. At the time, it was fenced in, and hard to get in there. Obviously, it’s some giant pool from the 1920s or whatever. He’s ollieing in between where this bar is. I had to hacksaw the bar. It was crazy, the bar was bent and welded into place. They took the bar and bent it. I was hacksawing and I got to the very end, I was almost there. Right when it got to the end, it snapped, and the bar bounced straight into my face. 30 years of torque hit me right between the eyes. I actually got two black eyes, it hit me perfectly in the middle of the top of my nose.

I had blood on my face, and I remember telling Tino—because he didn’t want to do it, he was trying to wimp out—I remember being like, ‘Dude look at my face, I just did this, you can ollie into this fucking thing.’ Because, it was his idea, but then he was being sort of, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I want to ollie into this.’ Then he did it. The landing is sketchy, there’s weeds and everything. Later, I think I shot Chima or someone do something on there, and I shot Brian Sumner do something on there. I think Dustin [Dollin] did something on there. Some more people skated it, but I was the one who had to hacksaw it to free it. But yeah, that’s in Williamsburg. Oh yeah, Tino’s tag is in this photo on the ground. It says ZER, it’s his tag.”

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Follow Patrick at patrickodell.com and on Instagram @epiclylaterd. Photos via Chromeball Incident.

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