THE BEN COLEN INTERVIEW:
Who are you, and where are you from?
Ben Colen, Staff Photographer for Girl Skateboards and all their other brands. I grew up in Long Island, NY, moved to Boston when I was 18 and I’m currently living in Los Angeles, CA.
How many years have you been shooting photos?
I’ve been shooting photos since High School, so about 20 years. I’ve been shooting photos of skating for about 15.
Did shooting photos lead you to where you now call home, or are you a born and raised type?
Yeah I moved out to Los Angeles originally to work for Skateboarder Magazine. I moved back to New York for a bit and then back to LA when Girl offered me the Job.
Top 5 reasons for staying in the city you call home?
Work, Weather, Friends. It’s an interesting place but I’m having trouble coming up with 5 specifics.
Did skateboarding get you into photography, or did photography get you into skateboarding?
I got into them independent of each other, but they came together pretty naturally.
What makes the ideal skateboard photograph setting?
Good light and the person doing the skateboarding are more important than anything else I think.
What are your top 5 cities to shoot in?
New York, London, Guangzhou, Bangkok, LA.
Where is the best place you’ve been on a trip to shoot?
Who are your top 5 skateboarders to shoot with?
It’s really hard to come up with just 5. Pretty much anyone I shoot with these days would fit into a top 5 for me.
Who are your top 5 favorite up and coming skaters?
Are the Trunk Boyz still considered up and coming? Alex Olson?
Top 5 skaters of all time?
Gonz, Mike, Rick, Gino, Lance Mountain, Grant Taylor, Julien. I know that’s 7 but I could probably name 30 more.
Who is someone you would love to shoot with that you haven’t had a chance to?
I shot a photo with Lance Mountain once but I want to shoot a better one.
What does your ideal skate trip consist of?
Friends and an easy schedule. Hopefully to a place I haven’t been before.
What are your top 5 Tumblr blogs that you follow?
2ndbestblogever, chrisshonting, curtisbuchananphoto, ryanflynn and sammuller off the top of my head.
Top 5 Instagram accounts?
streethandle, koolmoeleo, tempster_returns, crailtap, godsguesthouse
In your opinion, who is the most photogenic skateboarder now, and of all time?
Mark Gonzales and Mark Gonzales.
What is your main motivation behind skateboard photography?
Skateboarding is the best, taking photos of it is a fun way to make a living.
Who are your 5 favorite Canadian skateboarders?
Rick Howard, RIck McCrank, Tony Ferguson, Justin Bokma and Torey Goodall
What are your top 5 favorite skateboard photos of all time?
Hensley on the Bridge, Lance Mountain Skateboarder cover doing the frontside invert on the ladder, Grant Taylor doing the ollie at the foundation spot over the cemented tire thing, Julien ollieing at Louisville with the knife board and Jason Lee hip ollie on Santa Monica Blvd. And Paulo Diaz switch ollieing the picnic table. I’m really terrible at top 5 lists. All subject to change. Also AVE and Omar dropping into the double bank on the side of the freeway.
Who are your top 5 photographers of all time?
Bill Burke, Alec Soth, Jim Goldberg, Alex Webb, Larry Burrows and about 200 other people.
What is your favorite thing to shoot outside of skateboarding?
Either photos of people or photos that have no people in them, depending on the day.
What is your favorite camera that you use?
I have a Nikon D800 and I love it.
What camera do you wish you could use, or use more often?
I really want a Leica M with a 35 but that’s like buying a new car.
Top 5 film cameras?
Mamiya 7II, Contax G2, Contax T2, Leica M7, Nikon F3.