If you ever took a minute to think about all of the untapped talent out there that is just waiting for it’s 15 minutes of fame, then it can become a pretty overwhelming thought indeed. The skateboard industry can be rather merciless in this regard, so it takes a lot of hard work to separate the wheat from the chafe.
Through perseverance and self inflicted famine, Wouter Struyf has been delivering incredibly under-rated images for the love of it. Just a happy go lucky chap who enjoys clicking away at his mates. Wouter Struyf’s time to shine is long over due. – Ralph Lloyd Davis
Wouter Struyf, that’s what ‘s on my passport. But most of the guys I skate with call me “Wooty”.
How long have you been a photographer?
I first picked up a camera 3 years ago. I wouldn’t call myself a ‘photographer’ though. I just like to take photographs of my surroundings.
How did you get into it?
I always liked to skate (I’ll call it “roll around”), I already do this for 7 or 8 years. But I bailed real hard while snowboarding and had to undergo 4 operations including some cartilage transplants. Since then I can’t skate without having pain. I couldn’t stay home though, it’s too much fun to go out in the streets. So I found myself in the position of having two options: Take photos or film. I did both of them a short time but I ended up taking photographs instead of filming. Just liked it more I guess. If I am asked to do I will film or edit too! No problem.
What were the best and worst bits of advice anyone gave you in regards to photography?
Never got any advice from anyone! I learned it all by trial and error and lots of reading and some more looking around and studying other pictures. “Keep doing it” would have been the best advice I ever got.
Why did this image you have submitted inspire you so much to take up photography? What effect did it have on you?
There isn’t really one I could pick. I haven’t really picked up photography because of a photograph I saw, I just wanted to try it, I think. There are lots of photographers I like! Most inspiring must be Grant’s work and probably the picture of Todd Swank just pushing around would be the most influential.
Have you ever felt bad about taking a photo? If so, which one?
Not that I can think of right now. I hate it when people don’t like it when I take I photo of them. Always looking away and hiding! Everyone needs to learn to love themselves as they are a little more! It’s not the same, but it makes me feel bad….
What were the best and worst days shooting skateboarding of your life ever and why?
It definitely depends on the session going down and the skaters in the session! I just hate it when they skate only for the picture. Just skate for the fun of it and the photo is just an extra! If there’s no vibe between the skater and me, then it’s just real awkward and I don’t enjoy it at all. Just skating with friends would be the best days. Then if someone is going for something big I ‘ll pop out the cam and flash!
What’s the relationship like between a photographer and filmer?
Don’t have that much experience with filmers on the same spot. If so it’s the same one most of the time and he’s a really nice dude . Only thing is he never wants flashes firing in his shots and most of the time I agree so I have to wait to get my shot! I gladly move out of the filmers frames if I am sure he/she’ll get something decent. If not (like lots of filmers here in Belgium) I’ll just stay on my spot when I think I got the golden spot!
What main advice would you give to upcoming skate photographers?
Do it for yourself and the love for it. Not for anyone else and definitely not for the money or fame…. The Skater’s style is so important and makes the photo most of the time! Enjoy it!
Please tell us why you have picked your fave skate shot you have submitted.
I chose a frontside blunt slide “performed” (skateboarding is a performance for sure!) in Antwerp, Belgium (September, 2006). I find it really difficult to pick a good shot made by myself cause most of the time I don’t like them at all (after a month or so I start to like them). I just like the light and simplicity in this one.
If you look good you can see another friend in the background smiling. That’s what really defines that session. We were just riding around that day and just having fun. It was a real fun day. That’s my memory and that’s what makes the photo probably.
Are there ways of getting better/free equipment as you continue to grow or do you have to fund everything yourself?
If there is a way let me know cause I can use some! Empty pockets all the time. I think my “ass licking” skills aren’t that well developed.
Is the work of a skate photographer well paid? Do you get by in life with this income alone?
Income? What income? I wish I could live off it, but that’s just a dream. I just graduated so I hope I’ll find a job real soon.
Please tell us about the non skate shot you have submitted and the story behind it.
It was taken September 2005 in Wimereux, France. It’s on a field trip I went on for school (I studied Biology). We were out studying all marine creatures and had to fish the coastal area. Those are two of my classmates coming out of the water after pulling that net around for half an hour. It was taken with a old Petri I found a week before in my fathers closet, so I had no idea if it would work and how it would come out (because I had to guess the exposure). It’s plain and simple and combined with a sweet memory in my mind.
Does music ever inspire your photography? What music artists can you not leave for a tour without?
My music taste varies a lot. There is not one kind of music I can say I really hate. I am open for everything!
If you were to buy a pocket snapper for capturing skating on a budget to get going, which camera would you suggest?
I would take my fathers Petri with some B/W film or cheap slide film. Flashes aren’t all that – just get creative!!!
Would you recommend digital or film?
I love the look of film. I haven’t found a way to get near to it with digital but it is getting to expensive for me. If I ever win the lottery or find a pile of gold I’ll immediately buy the gear and film I always wanted – x-pan, mamiya RZ, 37mm and some other lenses and maybe a field camera. (Dreaming keeps me alive)!
What are the benefits of using film or digital?
Digi Easier work flow/faster results + less expensive after buying the machine itself.
Film? It looks better and you have the ‘magic’ of not knowing exactly how it’ll look, I always am so stoked when I get a real good roll of film back! Plus you know you’ve still got your originals when your hard drive crashes!
What kit do you use?
Canon and mamiya with the cheapest flashlights I could find, 1 sender and 1 receiver, some cables and lightslaves and some tape and other ‘useful’ crap.
Your photography website address if you have one?
If I ever can set my mind to one thing/layout I’ll let you know! For now follow my “adventures” on users.telenet.be/fooliage (I know, I know I am just too lame to get a ‘real’ web address…)