This past weekend Patrick O'Dell, creator of the popular skate blog Epiclylaterd.com and the eponymous web series, had a photo exhibit aptly titled "Skateboard High School." Presented by Altamont Apparel, where O'Dell is a creative contributor, the show at Known Gallery in Los Angeles, Calif. documented more than a decade of skaters on and off their boards. "Skateboard High School" features some of the most recognizable characters on wheels, from their wide-eyed beginnings through present day.
O'Dell started shooting skateboarding when he was a kid and looking at his work today, as an adult, he said, "I never felt so old as when I looked through my pictures and found baby versions of everyone. I put photos in the show regardless of how good the picture is, if it was sufficiently ancient of somebody that's still around today I included it. My favorites are baby Clark Hassler, baby Karl Watson, and baby Alex Parker (Olson)."
There are a plethora of video parts that are punctuated by tricks landed at famous skate spots, like Hollywood High School. O'Dell liked the idea that, "High schools are proving grounds for (Andrew) Reynolds and everyone, so there is a rich skate history in high schools."
Additionally, O'Dell, who served as photo editor of Vice and as a staff photographer for skate bible Thrasher Magazine, explained the personal significance of naming the show "Skateboard High School." "I feel like my time at Thrasher was like a late High School for me. I spent my real time in school as a weird outsider with no social skills. It wasn't until later on that I felt like I was hitting teenage years."
The photos on display at "Skateboard High School", which were shot on film, were captured on skate tours and filming missions to get footage. O'Dell's hard pressed to pick a favorite, explaining, "All of the Baker tours were magical. I also loved the Tampa trips I went on with Tino (Razo) and my TFL skate crew. There's some fun Osiris and 5-boro trips from when I was first starting out. I've been blessed to go on so many cool trips."
Of all the riders that O'Dell's gotten to shoot, his favorites are, "In action, probably Reynolds. He is mind blowing and makes things look easy. Off board I'd say Greco and Dollin. There are probably too many pictures of them in the show, but you can't take a bad photo of Greco."
By the nature of its goal, skateboarding photography takes itself quite seriously, there's a lot of pressure for the rider to land the trick and the photographer to get the shot. O'Dell's off the cuff photos have been a welcome diversion. His blog is like a skate travelogue and viewers get completely absorbed in O'Dell's journeys.
"When I was in high school I read Big Brother and Thrasher and imagined what it must be like to go on amazing trips and skate everywhere. So when I got my chance to tell stories, I wanted to create the same experience for the next kids." O'Dell continued, "I feel like skateboard culture is like the wild west, free spirited, anti-establishment... no rules and nothing is 'normal.' I want to pass on that spirit and those stories."
On hand at the Skateboard High School were O'Dell's friends and family, actors, models, artists like Neckface and Mark "Fos" Foster, and of course skateboarders. Taking a walk down memory lane were Braydon Szafranski, Justin Strubing, Kevin "Spanky" Long, Erik Ellington, Arto Saari, Shane Heyl, Ed Templeton, and Daryl Angel.
In keeping with O'Dell's high school theme, three bands rocked out like Known Gallery was a house party and the parents were out of town. The crowd was entertained by No Age's Randy Randall and local bands Protect Me and Froth. To make it authentic, there was even a bake sale, where O'Dell's favorite vegan baker served up cupcakes and brownies.
If you missed a chance to check out the show, a lot of the photos can be found at O'Dell's blog Epiclylaterd.com and if you want a keepsake, the Skateboard High School show booklet is available at Deadbeatclub.