Eric Antoine‘s photography has been on our radar for a while now. His unique life in the lens shooting skateboarding has also led him into the world of music and fashion and is certainly inspiring to view.
Hailing from France, Eric is currently the team photographer for Etnies, éS and Emerica Shoes and also shoots for magazines such as Soma, Sugar, Monster, Kingpin and Place. Welcome to Eric Antoine’s Triple Shot.
How long have you been a photographer?
I’ve been shooting photos seriously since 1994/95.
How did you get into skate photography?
I lived in Strasbourg when I was 20 and I did some studies I didn’t like and had some little job I liked even less. I decided to meet a friend in New York, skated there a lot and met people who showed me how to take my (already existing) photography to the next level. I bought my first Fm2 there and got started shooting the skaters I was hanging out with. It was in 1996. My first photo was published that year. It was a wallride from Harold Hunter.
Looking back to when you started out, what were the best and worst bits of advice anyone gave you in regards to photography?
I can’t remember any bad advice unless I just didn’t pay attention. Best one was when my friend Remi taught me how to print black and white.
What image inspired you so much to take up photography? What effect did it have on you?
I don’t have it to hand but I think it would be a skate photo from Thomas Campbell. His photography really pushed me in a direction I still keep today. At the time he was doing some great black and white 35mm with an fm2 and some cross processed pictures that had a lot of effects on me. I met him through Benjamin Deberdt when I lived in New York and without noticing it, he really inspired me.
Have you ever felt bad about taking a photo?
Not really, but yes. I do feel bad when I take a photo of a very poor person struggling, but somehow I keep taking them. Just to show them to those who don’t see and don’t want to see…and also when we really bother someone skating a spot, or if the spot is a nice and old monument, then I feel bad. Sometimes I even want to leave. We need to respect that as it’s only skating.
What are the best days shooting skateboarding?
I have had so many good days of shooting. It was for sure in the early days because I only carried a FM2, a fish eye, an 85 and a couple triX in my bag and skated around with my friends. Those are the best days. I do this sometimes with my friends Steve Forstner and Sylvain Tognelli, because that’s the way they like it! I had good times going in the South of France with Yves Marchon, together, or with Steve and Sperka in Slovenia.
And worst days?
Once, my back was stuck and I was on an Etnies tour in Italy, I HAD to shoot photos and I went there crawling trying to set up my flashes. It was terrible. I remember standing in the cold many times waiting for a skater to land his trick. Bad times.
Explain your choices for your fave shots…
I can’t really pick one shot. I like a lot of them. I don’t really see one standing out so I have picked 2 favourite shots for this feature instead of submitting an inspiration shot. They are not very recent but I like these 2. They were shot around 2003 I guess, but the first one (above) is a cross processed photo of Oli Buergin who I travelled with for 10 years now. I like the colours. It was a deserted town in the South of France where there are many people in the summer, but no one in the winter and you can feel it in the photo. It’s calm and still…like he is stuck in the 180 position. I print my colour photos myself, I have less and less time to do it but it’s a good thing for cross process. This is my answer to a future question: advantage for analog photography? Just look at those 2 photos…
Explain this one….
It is a photo of my friend Hans Claessens in 2003. We were shooting his interview and we went to the train station where he took his train for Brussels. This steep bank was there, the run up was impossible but he still did that bs noseblunt. Hans is my favorite person to shoot photos with and also favorite person to skate with. This is the kind of photo I like, it’s got a bit of action but so much more going on, what a shame it would be to shoot it with a fish eye. Here you can see so much happening, so much more feelings, am I wrong?
So tell us about the relationship between a photographer and filmer on a shoot?
I used to do everything with my friend Yves Marchon, I love the guy so everything went smooth but we still argued about who’s got the best angle or the advantage on the footage, photographer or filmer? So we’d argued for a little bit, then we’d get together in the evening like an old couple and apologized for being stupid about things like that. Haha, good times! Anything with Yves was great. Now I work with Jean Feil, I know him since he is 13 and he is now a good photographer, so he understands my angle. Everything is fine with him, we live in the same city and travel together.
Best photo story ever..
I think everyone knows this one by now, but here it is again. One day we were at the office at Soletech in Basel with a friend called Oli Buergin the team manager. A guy who pretended to be Tom Penny arrived in his shop, with no shoes on and super dirty, he was asking for shoes and board. Anyway, it worked out that this guy took care of Tom for a while because he really had trouble when he was by himself. Right after this, Tom came to my place and we skated some mini ramp and a bit of street. At this time he didn’t do any big gap or rails for a while and on that day he decided to kickflip the triple set in my hometown. I shot a sequence but he did it so fast, I wasn’t even ready and then it was a bit cropped. Finally it became an és ad. After this we went to the South of France and Barcelona together, he did a tailslide on a big ledge which was his first for a long time and I think I was really successful with this photo. We had a great time and it was always kind of strange, you know, because it was Tom and he was that legend we all had in our heads. It was in 2000 I think. I got married a bit after this and Tom came to my wedding in Strasbourg. Even if at the time it seemed just normal, as a skater and growing up in a town in France and looking up to his skating, you understand how I could feel about this.
Are there ways of getting better/free equipment as you continue to grow or do you have to fund everything yourself?
Well I never spent to much money on my equiptment, I never change and I buy it used most of the time…and I don’t get free cameras. I guess there are ways, by making a proper file with your photos and projects to Nikon and Canon or even film brands. I’ve heard you can get sponsored, I never did it.
Do you get by in life with this income alone?
Yes, I work a lot and for a lot of people. ‘I have many hats’ as we say in France.
This 3rd shot is remarkable….
This is a photo from my last series of pictures “through the backseat window”. It a series about nostalgia. It was born from my passion for old family photos from the beginning of the 20th century. This series combined many different alterations that used to happen on old black and white print. If blogs existed in the 1940s, that would be the journal of a young kid going places in his parents car on in a bus on sunday’s trip to panoramic view where millions of people shot a photo before him. That’s what I try to show. I’m still working on that series and it’s going to be an exhibition at the end of the year if I get it ready by then. I shot a few of them in France, then I went on a road trip by myself in Arizona and shot many photos everyday from 7am to 7pm. I also spend a lot of time for each of those in the lab and I’m enjoying this most of all.
What music artists can you not leave for a tour/shoot without?
I need good mix in the car when I’m on tour. That can change. On every tour we have a song we love with Jean and we always listen to it. We love Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen so there is always a lot of them. It’s never new stuff, I listen to a lot of old lost rock or folk, even some bluegrass and rock’n’roll. I like old things. I’m old.
If you were to buy a pocket snapper for capturing skating on a budget to get going, which camera would you suggest?
Yashica T4. Always. Then if you get a bit more money. Contax t2 or t3. If you want a cheap reflex: Olympus OM1…And finally, when you manage to sell your old toys or your sister’s cd collection at a flea market, buy a FM2 and enjoy the best.
What are the benefits of using film over digital then in your experience?
Film is unique. You can process and print it, touch it, it exists. It’s in a folder in your apartment, it’s almost alive. Colour are genuine and original, black and white has a charming grain, you can do so much with it and you always discover new things, new effects. There are definitely a lot of thing you can’t copy with photoshop and digi (as many people think).
Digital is fast, you can learn faster by seeing the result, you can bring only a digi cam in your bag and shoot the whole day, the result will be OK. New cameras are super sensitive and you can shoot 3200 and it looks clean, it’s great for sequences. BUT, everyting gets faster in this world now, is that a good thing? Don’t we forget what’s important and good. We lose the fun. Plus digital photos don’t exist, they are virtual, people don’t print them either so they just see them on screens. Digi looks cold and unpersonal, it looks sharp and shiny, like people like things now. But hey, do you like the Sharp plasma screen better than a cinema screen? Do you like the Sharp HD video better than 16mm or super 8? Ask yourself this. We’re losing what’s good in life, just to gain time. To do what??
So what kit do you use?
FM2, Hasselblad 500cm, Nikon D3, Mamyia c220, Contax t2 amongst other…
What main advice would you give to upcoming skate photographers?
Experiment, don’t try too hard to be someone. Just shoot your friends and most of all, don’t think fancy equipment will make you a good photographer.
You have a cracking new site, must be cool to see your work in such a neat space?
Thank you, yes, I did this so people can see what I do besides skateboarding. I didn’t put many action shots in there. I use it also for my advertising clients or people who want to hire me for a job and don’t know anything about photography. I had a blog and I got used to show my photos there, I saw that people were into it, with the site I touch more people…
Visit Eric Antoine at his site – www.ericantoinephoto.com