Many people only know Reda from his filming and talking and talking and talking on his show on the Berrics. What some may not know though is that he has been in the trenches for most of his life shooting skate photos. From NY to all around the globe he has shot non stop. Now, he switches it up and after 4 years of work he is about to release his first photo book - of portraits. I was blown away when he showed it to me. Its an amazing piece of work. Every page speaks louder then he ever has.
Below is a short interview with Reda about the book, some samples of his work and a short video.
DemiGods and Cosmic Children will be available worldwide at a skateboard shop near you.
- jim t
Why did you decide to do a Portrait book vs a skate photo book?
I shoot skateboarding every day, I live it , I breath it and I plan on shooting skateboarding till Im dead. I love shooting skateboarding. I wanna do a skateboarding book, maybe the next one, maybe in 10 years I dont know. I came up with the portrait book because a friend of mine who is a fashion photographer in NYC named Zach Gold has a huge studio, all the equipment, cameras, computers and everything. He told me, when ever he is not shooting I could use it. I never knew what I wanted to shoot in there. I’ve been shooting skateboarding for so long, I’ve met all sorts of people. I thought it would be cool to have all these people I’ve met through the years of shooting skateboarding in one book. I had access to a studio and equipment that should cost about 2 g’s a day for free, so I took advantage.
Where did the title DEMIGODS and COSMIC CHILDREN come from?
The title comes from an article I wrote in Skateboarder magazine, where I made up about 100 different titles for it. I made up a bunch of stupid names - one of the titles was Man Boy Demigods on the Road of Destiny or something like that. A friend of mine said, oh man boy demigods, that sounds like a skateboarder, not quite men, not quite kids and a kind of half god, a Demigod. You know when you see Gino push, or Koston do anything, you think wow they are special, they are more than just regular people, they have something to them that makes you feel a bit smaller. At least I do, I’m in awe of them, I cant skate like them. I look at them like they are almost not human. Some Matrix shit you know? The reality is we all have something in us that makes us great. We are all Demigods in a way. It was just gonna be Demigods, but I wanted ‘and’ something, I looked through that list of titles and saw Cosmic Children in there. So my final thought was this group of people, like all of us, are more than just people walking around just surviving. There is something more to all of us. We are all Demigods.
Why is there no photo on the cover?
I didn’t put anyone on the cover so there were no pre conceived notion of what the rest of the book was gonna be like.
How did you come up with the list of people you wanted to shoot - both in and outside of skating?
These are all people that Im friends with or a friend of a friend of. Im connected to all of them. One way or another we’re all connected, like that 7 degrees of separation to Kevin Bacon game.
Was it hard to approach people to shoot with you? I’m sure the skaters were used to shooting skate shots with you - but studio shots? Was it hard to explain your vision to them?
Nah it wasnt too hard at all. Again when they are your friends its easy. Then you get a friend that says, ‘you should shoot this guy’ - Ok, give ‘em a heads up that I’m gonna call and so on. Easy.
Who were some of the hardest to get in the studio and why?
It wasn’t even that hard, you have to stay on top of people and get them to come, it’s not me going to meet them somewhere as they’re coming to me with this project. Some times I wouldn’t have the studio, or they were out of town. I didn’t get to shoot at least 50 people I wanted to get, next time I hope.
Any good stories when trying to shoot any of the subjects ( Mark, Rick, Jake, Spike, Olson, etc).
Olson (Steve) was wanted in the questioning of a murder (he didn’t do it,) but that was heavy shit! He was in the studio in Brooklyn chain smoking like a bandit. My friend Zach took a few steps away from him. People who I thought would be hard to get into the studio were pretty easy, like Gonz, Phelps and Spike.
Who just couldn’t stand still?
My friend Sue Kwon, She’s a photographer who hates getting her photo taken, she was antsy and very nervous, but thats her.
4 years is a long time to stay focussed on anything - how did you keep the momentum going on the book with everything your doing?
I was just having fun doing it. I didn’t shoot everyday, so it kept it fresh. I think that was the key, never O.D. on anything, you’ll just get board. I’m still shooting portraits, maybe for another book, maybe not, but I’m still going.
For someone looking to do their own books - How would you suggest they approach a publisher - any advice to aspiring book creators?
For me it was easy my friends Al Moran and A-Ron Bondaroff have a publishing company OHWOW, they’ve been doing books for a while, they did one with Neck Face, so I spoke with them and they were super down for me. As far as advice, just stay committed and keep forging ahead. Don’t be afraid to let your vision take on different elements and ideas. Sometimes when you change it up a bit it takes on a new life and you see something you didn’t see before.
Comparing skate shots and Portraits - how different/ similar is it getting the subject comfortable and ready to get the shot?
Its way different. a portrait is a bit more laid back to shoot, controlled environment, but can be super intimidating for me and the subject both. You’re pretty exposed. At least I m behind the camera. I have to make them comfortable and wanna feel good about their portrait. A skate photo, its a battle, we gotta find the spot, set up, get psyched and hopefully not get the boot! I think for a skate photo we’re in it together. We’re at war and we gotta keep each other motivated.
Would you say one type of shooting (skating vs portraits) is harder or easier then the other?
Shooting skateboarding is the hardest thing ever. There is a million photographers that can shoot a better portrait then me, but I guarantee they can’t shoot a skate photo as good as me. (except for all the skateboard photographers out there)
What type of camera do you use for shooting skate shots vs what you use for studio portraits.
I use a Haselblad for the portraits and my Nikon. I use the same things for skateboarding.
When did you realize that photography was something you wanted to dedicate your life to? (was it cause you had a weak wall ride?)
My wall ride is the only thing I can do pretty good, with that being week…I knew I had no future.
What were some of the milestones in your shooting life that make you glad your a photographer?
Don’t really have a sinlge milestone, but everyday I get up and knowing that I get to go shoot gets me pretty psyched. Life’s good.
Who are some of your favorites skaters to shoot with these days and why?
Torey, Daewon, Jeron, Chico, Zered, Felix, because these guys are fam. There is nothing better being around good people in life.
If you had to pick your top 5 skate shots you’ve taken ( i know its tough) what would they be?
1. Steve and Alex Olson doubles in the Supreme bowl
2. Gino Iannucci: nollie back heel the 5 flat in Rome
3. Mike V: ollie the banks wall with the fence on it.
4. Guy Mariano: switch back tail on the bank in Milan
5. Any photo I had in Thrasher
Back to the book - If there is a message around the book - what would you hope people take away from it?
Probably that we are all connected. especially in skateboarding, we all skate so stop hating on each other it sucks.