David Östlund – life with skateboarding and photography

Interview with David Oestlund

David Östlund has been living skateboarding for quite a long time and found his love for skateboard photography 8 years ago. His photographs capture the action perfectly and really have always been making want to see more. So it was obvious for me that I had to ask him if he would answer some questions about himself for me and Europeskate. And here you go, David let’s us get some insight in his background, his photography and tough (or dumb) questions like name your three top skaters (he elegantly answered with 10 skater names which is still hard to do!). Thanks David and please keep those great photos coming at us!

Hi David. As always we need a short introduction about the person we are interviewing. Could you give us a little background info about yourself (age, where you come from, where do you live now, any family to take care of)?

Hi there, my name is David Östlund, just turned 51, I’m half English and half Swedish. Was brought up in England in a place called Hassocks (not far from Brighton). Moved to Stockholm, Sweden about 22 years ago.

Lance Mountain at the CPH Pro 2012

When did you first cross paths with skateboarding and what did this first impression do to your life?

Brighton area was the first place I started skating in 1974. I can still remember the feeling of standing on the board and thinking… “this is bloody good fun”… still get that feeling even nowadays. Skated mostly in the 70’s at The Barn (which happens to be not far from the new Shoreham Clover) and The Cage (which was an indoor park near the sea front in Brighton). I was also skating at a spot called The Wall and along the Brighton promenade (the ramps that go down from the road to the sea front). Since I started I’ve always been skating but have been skating even more the last 8 years because there’s more and more concrete bowls popping up all over the place… stoked.

Skateboarding has made a huge impression on my life… Graphic designs on boards and t-shirts, the uniqueness of the people that skate, the mix of skaters from Professors to drug addicts, from 50+ old farts to 10 year old rippers, all just have this one thing in common… the love of skateboarding. There’s no cheating in skateboarding (not like many other main stream sports) and it’s such a unique ‘sport’, it’s more of a life style… which I’m pretty much hooked on.

So how do you feel about the incredible growth of skateboarding in the last few years especially in Sweden?

I find it quite amazing that it’s happening. I’m just so pleased that it is… gives me plenty of places to skate and take photo’s at.

Do you have any opinion why the governments in Sweden and Denmark are so skate park-friendly: the amount of great parks is almost ridiculous and they keep on building them!

Not really sure exactly why, but I think it’s because of the history/link of skateboarding that goes back to the mid 70’s. I’m also sure that because John Magnusson and crew managed to make Stapelbäddsparken happen, it proved that it can be a positive part of Malmö city, attracting more visitors and interest in the city. Due to Malmö’s success this has created an interest in other areas here in Scandinavia.

Are you one of those skaters that “concentrates” on a certain type of skating like pool skating or do you like to try a bit of it all yourself?

In the 70’s I used to do Freestyle, slalom and bowl skating. But my love lies in pool/bowl skating (as long as it’s got pool coping).

Your skateboard photography speaks for itself – you have a great eye to capture that perfect skate moment. What attracted you to start taking photos of skateboarding and the people involved?

I started taking pictures about 8 years ago… I got inspired to take pictures of my rad skate buddies… There are some real good skaters here in Stockholm both young and old. Plus I got to exhausted to skate all the time but still wanted to hang with my friends!

How do you feel the evolution of skate parks, skateboard events, skateboarding itself changes the way you as a photographer work to find that right moment?

When the comp is in a pool/bowl or vert ramp it’s a little easier to pick a spot. I usually look at the skaters line and try to get in the right spot. It’s pretty difficult to get a good picture of Brad McClain (for example) as he doesn’t have a ‘line’. Also big events like CPHPro and Ultra Bowl are pretty difficult, big event, lots of people and lots of cameras.

Kyle Berard at the High Valley skatepark

Being a specialist you surely have your “special” photography gear for different moments. What’s your favourite set-up when you head out to take photographs?

I’m using now a Nikon D3x (after many years with my D300). Favorite lens would have to be my 16mm Fish Eye. Always have with me a couple of flashes and few other lenses.

Do you have a favourite type of spot you like to photograph?

Copenhagen is fun to take pictures at. But I really like new pools/bowls that I haven’t been to before. That’s probably why I’ve spent a lot of my money on traveling to new spots. Many thanks go out to friends that have made it possible/connections for me to come to those special spots.

Are you an “all-rounder” photographer or do you specialize in any specific area other than skateboarding/sports?

No, I just take skateboard pics… nothing else… won’t ever get filthy rich with that!

Are there any photographers (and their photos of course) that you admire for their work and why?

C.R. Stecyk III, because of his Jay Adams pics
Grant Brittain he’s captured so much
Chris Rooney aka “Rhino” because he’s always traveling around and taking rad pics of rad skaters.

Three favourite skaters all-time?

This is always a tricky question as I happen to have quite a few more than 3… but here they are… My top 10: Jay Adams, Mark Baker, Grant Taylor, Brad McClain, Rune Glifberg, Nicky Guerrero, Raven Tershy, Dave Toms, Jeff Grosso and John Magnusson.

Christopher Bajo in yet another Stockholm park

Three favourite skate spots in the entire world?

CPH Fælledparken’s clover with the yellow tiles. The Block, vans indoor combo pool in Orange County, California. Shoreham clover in southern England.

If you could turn back time, would you and if so, what you like to do differently?

Start skating when I was 6 and not 13.

Any final words / last thoughts / call-outs to friends?

Thanks god for skateboarding

Jocke Olson and Pontus Bjoern

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