Tue, Jun 17 2008 12:00 am |
Name: Justin Kosman
Shooting: 10 years
Work: Ride and other magazines, Vans Shoes, Maxxis Tires, Red Bull, Odyssey, Haro, a ton of other companies in BMX, and justinkosman.com
What kind of camera do you have or do you suggest?
Canon equipment for digi is what I use. Three main lenses: 15mm fish, 45mm and 70-200. I put a 1.4x converter on the 45mm and the 70-200 to get a little different look sometimes. I also have a 100-400mm that I use for candids and at contests for some reach and good tele fall-off. I also have a 50mm macro lens. Film is a Canon 1N for 35mm. Medium format is my slowly growing Holga collection. The Holga is a really simple camera and sometimes I need that to really be limited to composition.
How do you get started in photography?
If you were me you would save up a bunch of Marlboro miles and buy a red and white Canon Sureshot camera from the Marlboro catalog—lots of digging in the trash when I was a little guy. Thank you litter-ers. Get an SLR kit and go nuts. Look at magazines and try to pick apart the way they image was created and figure out the set-up. Long lens or short lens? Ambient light or flashes. Tall light stand or short tripods? How many light sources? Was the photographer standing or sitting?
One of my best jobs was sorting returned slides for a photographer when I was in college. He would get back boxes from his clients who had scanned them and I would sort them into teams and genres. I believe that if you want to be a good writer you have to read good writing, and if you want to be a good photographer, it is imperative that you look at good photography. Immerse yourself in amazing images—both stills and cinema. Find that magazine rack at Borders and dive in.
Justin with friend/skateborder Josh Borden in Italy. Ah…the life of a traveling photographer.What kind of job can you get being a photographer in BMX?
- Staff editorial photographer at Ride magazine.
- Staff photographer at a big BMX company.
- A photo editor for a large art department where you would manage photo buying and ad deadlines.
- Retained photographer for an advertising agency.
- Photo buyer for an ad agency where you seek out appropriate stock photography for client.
How can someone get into the BMX industry?
Work in a bike shop and get to know brands, get to know bikes, get to know product, get to know branding. Read magazines to know trends, riders, news, and patterns. No one is going to hire just a rider. You have to bring something else to the table. Whether it be a website dedicated to your scene, a T-shirt company, or being a good photographer or videographer. It’s not enough to just bang out handrails on the weekends.
There is a saying, “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” You can affect each of those factors by creating opportunities for yourself and preparing your tech skills. I have always felt that putting yourself in jobs where you are constantly learning is key to constantly growing as a professional—in any industry. That environment can be true for an internship or a full-time assisting job. That means have more talented people giving you orders, and you making them coffee.
Do you do work outside of BMX?
Short answer: Sure do.
Serious answer: I like having a diversity of clients, and when you rely on one industry for all of your cheddar then it is hard to feel secure—especially since scooters, Heelys, chopper bikes and video games have pushed the BMX bicycle off Santa’s list for sometime now. Every industry has it’s ups an downs, but if you spread out your clients, you don’t feel a pinch as bad.
Truthful answer: Contrary to what Adam Banton may think, laying down on boiling hot asphalt is not as fun as it looks.
Extra answer: I also really want to buy a Lotus, so I don’t mind extra work. Elise or Exige.
Advice for beginners?
Watch the movie Harrison’s Flowers, Almost Famous, and Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas. Submit photos to magazines; publish or perish. Don’t look a hungry dog in the eyes.You will never be more than you think. Always bet on black. Never bet against Catfish. Never let Catfish give you a tattoo. When Big Daddy talks, you listen. F8 and be there. Don’t fake the funk. No shadow/highlight filter. Get the Maui bowl at Wahoos. You get what you pay for. Only dead fish go with the flow. Never forget why you kept riding a bike all these years. Don’t diss the mini van. Print’s not dead. BK all day. A bad day fishing is always better than a good day at the office. Real niggas do real things. Don’t believe the hype. Visit justinkosman.com.
More advice: Keep your head above water.