Top dog photographer and interviewer Patrick O'Dell partakes in a transatlantic iChat with Hooked.
Hi, How's it going?
Good thanks - how are you?
I'm alright... where are you from?
Derby - right bang in the middle of England - near Nottingham, that place in Robin Hood.
Oh yeah yeah yeah I know that place.
Where are you right now Patrick, Los Angeles?
Yeah I'm in Los Angeles.
Awesome. So - you're the master of interviews now through the Epicly Later'd show
- can you give us some tips on how to get the best out of you?
Well actually I'm not that good at interviewing, I kind of mumble through questions and when we edit we clean that up a little bit. You'll see sometimes I'm just mumbling... well maybe not mumbling I just don't think the question through... I just start asking stuff. One thing I can think of that I do is that if there's something really important then I wait to ask it, and I ask more superficial stuff first. By the time the really important questions come they'll be warmed up.
Good tip, so you sort of toy with them a bit first...
Ha, a little bit - it's like anything someone does like skating or anything, to loosen up you need to get warmed up.
Ok - moving onto your photography - You have a raw photographic style, and an talent for capturing the rawness of the moment.. when did you first get into photography, and did you always want to shoot this way?
I dunno, I think mostly photography is in the editing - you just shoot a lot and kind of come up with your style based on the pictures to take out of your pictures. I shoot all different kinds of ways... the selection I guess is where your style comes out of.
I definitely don't like too much set up stuff, I'm not really that into posed stuff. I think about composure but I don't over think it, I don't like my photography to be too stylised.
Nice. What was the best - and worst thing about shooting for Thrasher?
Well the best thing is you get to skate and travel, and the worst thing is that it doesn't pay that well. But then you get to travel, skate, hang out with cool people and do cool stuff. I think money is the downside of it.
So what makes the best subject matter for a gnarly photo - skateboard makes, bails, girls, parties or oddballs?
Well my favourite thing to shot is just my friends, and my life, my favourite pictures are the ones in my photo album, pictures of times that meant stuff to me.
And the skateboarding and the parties and the rest of the raw / wild stuff is just an extension of you that's been captured?
Yeah, as far as skate photography goes it's pretty much work. I have a few skate photos that I love - that I captured something that I was really happy with, but most day in and day out skate photography is really boring. Your job is to make a trick look as good as possible, so they don't really mean too much to me. When I go through my photo library I have like, 10 skate photos that I really love, but most of them are pretty interchangable - I wouldn't know if I shot them or someone else shot them.
It's unfortunate but that's the job. If someone's going to switch heelflip over a handrail, you just gotta make it look good.
We recently got hold of Mike Blabac's book - have you thought of releasing your work in book format?
I have yeah, I would like to at some point. I just haven't pursued it, and no one has asked me yet... I didn't feel like self publishing either. I was thinking about it yesterday as I was digging out some negatives for a show. I saw all my skate stuff and it now feels like a good chunk of skate history that I've compiled, and I'd really like to make a skate book - not just skate photos, portraits of skating and stuff. But it's a lot of work, maybe I'll do it when I'm older... I'm definitely interested in making a book.
You mentioned you have a show coming up..?
Yeah - it's in Columbus Ohio, where I'm from. It's a show with a friend of mine - Tom Lessner, he's a painter. We just both happen to be from Columbus and we've been friends for a long time so we're doing a show together in Columbus... which is probably America's equivalent of where you are, how you described it as bang in the middle of the country.
So he's just putting up some paintings and I was trying to find some photos... I have all these framed photos, pictures and all this stuff - I was just finding some bits to add in. That's going to be in a couple of weeks, in Columbus.
Now, Epicly Later'd; how did it get so much attention and love - at first you were just interviewing friends right?
I dunno, I mean at first I didn't know how it was going to be, the Dustin Dollin episode - just an interview, like a little video thing, and now they have grown into more like documentaries. I try to have a sense of humour in them - I guess people want to know what their favourite pros are like, what skating is like for them. It's a little bit of nostalgia - a bit of history, personality and stuff. I don't check the views on how many people watch it, so I don't know how popular it is. I'm not surprised, I just don't know because it's just floating there on the internet, and it's hard to know what reaction it's getting. It just exists there on the internet.
Has anyone requested that they need you to do an episode on them?
A few people yeah, sometimes I get emails from pros, they aren't really asking for an interview, but you know, just putting it out there. Some people - Brian Anderson, he was like 'yeah let's do it' and Lizard King kinda asked. People aren't begging to do it, but some people are enthusiastic about it, and kinda ask.
The show has shone so much light on the lives and background of the pros we've all looked up to for years. Was that the intention when filming the interviews (rather than words and pictures) and visiting their houses and their personal areas?
I just thought skaters are pretty interesting you know? I don't know how it started really - would you hold on a sec I just have to do something...
Sorry about that - I was looking out of the window and it started raining and I wasn't really listening to the question, I just needed to get the bicycle inside and this other thing - I had to get that... ha ha
Yeah, domestic duties ha
Ha ha yeah - it never rains here but for the last week and a half its been pouring, like raining every single say - last week it was floods... but usually it doesn't rain very often.
Us Brits are jealous of the weather there when we watch skate videos... blue skies, sunshine...
That's Los Angeles - San Francisco rains a lot, New York has pretty bad weather - too hot in Summer and too cold in winter... the East Coast is pretty much like England. Florida and Los Angeles are pretty hot. I'm from Ohio and I lived in New York for a long time, so I'm used to bad weather.
You said that Gonz was tricky and intimidating to interview - is there anyone who you blew you away with the stuff you learned about them in their interview?
Yeah, there's been a few people who I thought were going to be tricky but actually really opened up. Mike Carroll, Anthony Pappalardo - I felt like I learned a lot about them - they let me into their lives.
The thing with Mike Carroll's episode and John Cardiel's episode - they were about more than skateboarding. There are a few people's episodes which are like this, they have interesting lives whether they skate or not. Some people like Gonz is hard to get hold of, you find they are just everywhere - I'd love to do an episode with him but it's too hard to get hold of him. Doing this show, there's just so many interesting people - I think skateboarding is a thing that interesting people really gravitate towards. I've been really lucky to meet so many different people.
You must have grown up looking up to those guys.
Yeah - Mark Gonzales definitely, Lance Mountain definitely. Some of the guys are younger than me ha - so, I don't get starstruck by Brian Herman for example. But, when it's an older guy, Gonz, Natas… any pro who was big in the early 90's I'm going to be excited about.
You've been to so many skate legend's homes - who's house blew you away the most?
Mark Gonzales' was pretty interesting, he has weird stuff all over the walls. Art that's cool, he likes cool stuff - he just has an apartment, but it was interesting. He has his boards sent to him as completes, he just has these boxes of boards all made up with trucks and wheels and everything. I think they knew that he wouldn't skate unless it was all set up for him ha ha.
Most pros get just boards wheels and everything and just sort of figure it out, but someone like that would look at a board and want to skate the board - but if they just send Mark boards and griptape and bolts and stuff... he might not get around to skating it.
The episode with Marc Johnson's house in the sticks was interesting...
Yeah - he's got a really cool house, I'd like to live somewhere like that someday. Marc's house is like one and a half hours through nothing out of the city. He's got friends up there and it's a cool place.
What's it like where you live?
I live in Echo Park, a suburb of LA. It's a neighbourhood, I like it because a lot of my friends live in Hollywood, downtown, kind of the flattest - whereas I'm on a hill in a Mexican area... I get a little bit of what Marc Johnson has... a little more space than the city.
How much do you skate yourself these days, and who do you skate with?
I skated yesterday - I skated with with some friends who are pool skaters in Lance Mountain's pool with all the 80's pros. I suck at that pool and I didn't skate that much - I had to watch them. I did a few tricks but I kept slamming... it was intimidating and Lance Mountain was killing it. I don't skate as much as I did when I was in high school, but for a 33 year old I skate a lot.
Do you have a trick that would shut people down in a game of SKATE?
I suck at flat ground, I can do no trick on flat that could win a game of skate ha. If I was to play on miniramp I think I'd play pretty well.
I had a dream I was playing SKATE the other day too. I can do a kickflip, a heelflip, a 360 flip... about 6 tricks! So I don't think I'm winning anything!
So do you prefer to skate miniramp?
I like skateparks, I like skating street, I'm just not that tech. I like to grind stuff and ollie things... there are people my age that are tech, but... I was skating early 90's so - my favourite thing to skate is a concrete park. Axle stalls and grinds... not really flat ground.
You said Gonz and Hosoi were the dudes you couldn't believe you got to interview, has anyone refused to participate so far?
Yeah, a few - but so many people have said yes, you kind of don't notice. I don't think it's because they aren't into it, or rude about it - a lot of people want their skating to speak for itself, not an interview. Some people weren't that charismatic or nervous that I tried... you can't really do one on everyone. There are a few episodes that have side stories - in the Cardiel there's Julian Stranger, Andy Roy and Sean Young. I might never do an Andy Roy episode, but in the Cardiel one there's a mini Andy Roy episode.
In all of them there's something like that. We try to include people in different ways, more than just the skater we're interviewing.
The Epicly Later'd episode of skater's regretful tricks was a great feature - have you got any other topics that will make a mini feature like that?
When I filmed that episode I also filmed another one - but it seemed like people didn't really like it, or respond to it. I'd be down to do something like that, but I don't know.
Finally, what did you envisage your job being when you were a teenager - I imagine you didn't think you'd be doing this?
I wanted to be a skate photographer. I've always loved photography. At school my aspirations were to be a skate photographer or newspaper photographer, and I've done a lot of those things, so I'm happy with that.
So you've made what you wanted to do - what's next?
Good question, I don't really know. I've been doing the show and I like doing it. I kinda want to do things like the show, but bigger. I like doing things that not a lot of people are doing and when I first started the show it felt new and special. I have some ideas.
Do you have a favourite skater at the moment?
Mark Gonzales or John Cardiel. I also like Jerry Hsu. I just love their skating - even if I didn't know their personalities I'd still love their skating.
Feel free to drop some thanks..
Ha - it's not like I won an award -but you should check this link: Jerry Hsu's blog... it's really funny. His whole website is just cell phone photos.
Nice one - it was great to chat to you. Keep us posted on your projects.
Check out Patrick's links
Don't forget Epicly Later'd Season 2 is on VBS TV as we speak... get watching, it's wet outside.