Rhino: Skate photographer to the stars

Photo by: Rhino

This was Willis Kimbel's first time skating Lance Mountain's backyard pool. Tall dude with a lot of power, Willis blasts a huge frontside air over the ladder.

Known simply as "Rhino," Thrasher Magazine's number one skate photographer and world traveler, answers a few questions about what it takes to shoot the best skateboarders in the world.

ESPN.com: How long have you been a photographer for Thrasher Magazine?
Rhino: Freelance wise, first photo was in 1999 and staff wise about seven years -- not that long.

What was your job before that?
I was working promotions and marketing for a film festival that was based in La Jolla, Calif. We traveled all around the U.S. It was a great catalyst to ride a skateboard and meet skaters while working.

How did you transition into becoming a skate photographer?
While working in Philadelphia, I got hurt at Cheapskates skatepark and when I returned home I decided to quit and rehabilitate my knee and take a few black and white photo classes at City College in San Diego. Then I just started submitting photos to Thrasher. I used to see Mike Burnett (editor of Thrasher) around a lot and he helped me get the ball rolling.

What makes an epic skate photo?
First and foremost the skateboarder. After that comes the trick, skate spot, composition, lighting, etc...

Do you look for something in particular when you go out to shoot?
It's always tight to find new spots that have not been skated by everyone and seen all over the magazines. Every now and then spots come up and get me psyched -- and if you have the right skaters then it's on. Ditches, pools, full-pipes, crusty street spots -- they're all out there.

What should a skater do or keep in mind when they go to shoot a photo?
Try to have fun while they are skating and don't get stressed out over trying to get a photo.

What's your favorite photo that you've shot and why?
The photo of Shane Cross at the Pizzey, Globe contest in Australia -- it ended up on the cover of Thrasher. Back noseblunt photo. It was the end of a three week Globe tour -- the day before we were having some beers in the hotel pool and he told me that he was going to show up and do a back noseblunt next to the channel, get some cash and then go to the bar and spend it. That's exactly what he did. I moved to the other side of the bowl, shot the photo and that was the last time I saw him. Shane was a really rad person on and off a skateboard!

What's your favorite skate photo of all time and why?
I really like the Steven Bailey Thrasher Magazine cover that Luke Ogden shot in Japan. Frontside ollie over a ladder in a cement halfpipe. Steven is a really rad skateboarder and good friend, real low key. I remember getting that in the mail and I was blown away. Really excited for Bailey, jealous I wasn't there, blown away by the spot and the ollie was straight up style!

Any advice for someone that wants to be a skate photographer for Thrasher?
Pay attention to skateboarding's history. Learn how to be patient, be down to travel, put a lot of time in and learn how to shoot photos and write well. Other than that, maybe look for another profession.

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