Loic Benoit is not a super hero. Loic Benoit is a skateboarder with ethics, willing to sacrifice a day job and financial security for his friends and a plank with four wheels. I don’t know if Loic ate all the pies, but he definitely has his grubby fingers stuck in a few. When I first met Loic he was helping build Antiz Skateboards from the ground up, working almost full time in Lyon’s premier skateshop Wall St., freelancing regularly for France’s Freestyler Magazine and avoiding daily nervous breakdowns with his sarcasm and quick wit.
Loic no longer works full time in a skateshop but is always willing to give the scene a helping hand; Freestyler died regrettably so Sugar magazine can now enjoy his penmanship from time to time; and Antiz Skateboards are premiering their incredibly anticipated second video Z-Movie to rave reviews. Loic isn’t lazy and it shows in his photos. Crossfire supports people with convictions and beliefs that uphold the essence of skateboarding, and Loic’s rebel at heart attitude caught our eye and we wanted to share it with you for his Triple Shot interview…
What is your full name?
How long have you been a photographer?
I’ve been taking photos for a little over 10 years now.
How did you get into skate photography?
Because of my love for skateboarding. No more no less.
What image inspired you to take up photography?
Next question. That’s too hard and too long ago to remember. I’ve lost a lot of grey cells since…
*Loic really couldn’t think of a photo that inspired him to pursue a career in photography, so he suggested we put a pretty picture of a lady as inspiration!*
What were the best and worst bits of advice anyone gave you in regards to photography?
The best advice was probably to not take skate photos for the money, because it’s simply the truth. Worst advice??? I don’t know… “Use at least 4 flashes” Fuck no…
Have you ever felt bad about taking a photo? If so, which one?
Not guilty as such, but definitely a strange feeling when you shoot something harsh (that isn’t skate-related), like 10 year old kids used as slave labour in Egypt and you’re just hiding behind the lens like a ‘tourist’ with all the money in your big wallet. That’s a fucking strange feeling.
What’s the relationship like between a photographer and filmer?
It depends on the filmer. With Polo (Paul Labadie, Antiz Skateboards filmer) we get along fine even if we do slag one another off for fun sometimes and try and get the other one stressed or something… otherwise, seeing as I shoot with a lot of my mates from Antiz, I usually end up with Polo or some other filmers that I’ve known for ages already, so that helps the communication and friendship levels.
What were the best and worst days shooting skateboarding of your life ever and why?
There have been so many. In the beginning and I remember getting so stressed that I might mess up a shot. The skater is counting on you, and in return you don’t even know if everything worked until you get your films back from the lab.
Tell us why your fave skate shot gives me vertigo?!
My mate Barbichou represents what skating is all about to me: 33 years old and still at it, he works really hard and skates like a pressure cooker when he’s got time off.
Plus, I rarely shoot photos from an angle like this. I stuck my fisheye lens above his head without framing work or anything – ghetto style! – and I dig the result I got.
This photo was taken during the summer of 2004 and the spot rates highly on the sketchy list. It’s a tiny basin, duck pond thing – You know, the kind of spots I like!
What main advice would you give to upcoming skate photographers?
Fuck digital cameras! Old-school style all the way! Do it for the passion of skateboarding and photography – Fuck your wallet!
Are there ways of getting better/free equipment as you continue to grow or do you have to fund everything yourself?
Systeme D a.k.a. Do it yourself! “DIY or die”, I’ve got that tattooed on my arm, so next question please. Never expect anything from anyone – just go!
Is the work of a skate photographer well paid? Do you get by in life with this income alone?
Personally, it gives me a little pocket money at the end of the month. I chose to live differently though and do my skate photography for the love of it. I just work hard like an idiot in a skateshop (Wall Street in Lyon, France), and I work hard on Antiz Skateboards which takes up a lot of my time.
Does music ever inspire your photography? What music artists can you not leave for a tour without?
For me, music is important but I’m not one of those people who can’t get anything done if there aren’t banging tunes in the background. I really don’t see myself shooting photos with an I-Pod plugged into my ears. There are already a whole swarm of kids out there with their New era caps and their headphones, and it edges on the intolerable.
Let’s leave it at that. Music yes, but not all the time. You have to communicate a lot with the rider that you’re shooting and vice-versa, so with bits of plastic stuck in your ears only makes things more difficult. When I’m on tour, I listen to Iron Maiden, Hot Snakes and Social Distortion.
Please tell us about this non skate shot you have submitted and the story behind it.
Vietnam. Such a difference in culture, religions and ethnicity that it kicks ass! And I like that…
If you were to buy a pocket snapper for capturing skating on a budget to get going, which camera would you suggest?
A Canon AE1 or Nikon FM2 with a 50mm lens and lots of black and white film, that’s it. The rest you can deal with later, much later…
Would you recommend digital or film? What are the benefits of using film or digital?
Go back to the advice question. Fuck digi-cams!
What kit do you use?
Shoot film. The chemical stuff to the death!
Your photography website address if you have one?
I deal with the Antiz Skateboards website, but I don’t have a personal site. I find it hard trying to sell myself… Sometimes that’s a hindrance, but I like things that way, plus I’m far from being my own number one fan!