“I feel that my photography is just an extension of my love of people-watching. I am interested in the way people project themselves to the world. I like reading peoples’ faces or hand gestures and seeing how they dress because it allows you know so much about a stranger without having to have a conversation with them.”
I was first turned on to Grant Hatfield‘s photography by Ed Templeton, skateboard legend and artist extraordinaire. I then started following Grant’s blog and found his witty commentary on his photographs to be amusing. Those comments added a special element to his already fantastic photography. During our interview, I asked Grant if he would be interested in offering some of his photographs exclusively in our new store as I told him our store’s mission:
“By offering limited edition and exclusive works from individuals, we facilitate a relationship between the creator and the consumer. You will never doubt the originality of goods offered in Paradigm Magazine’s store; you can trust that the photographs are vetted for quality, style, and value.”
He was very receptive, and this is Paradigm Magazine’s first run at bridging the gap between consumer and creator. If you truly like the images you see throughout the interview click on one and visit our store. Support Grant’s photography and the continuance of supporting us while interviewing and telling the stories of amazing artists like Grant Hatfield.
Introduction & Interview by Theo Constantinou
Grant, why did you name your Zine, “Planting the Flag at the Summit”?
The name stems from an inside joke that came about on a trip to Barcelona. Diego Bucchieri and I kept saying “I’m so peaking” to describe how psyched we were at skate spots. Ed innocently chimed in one time and said “I’m so planting the flag at the summit right now”. Thinking that peaking was a reference to climbing a mountain, not psychedelic drugs. When it came time to come up with a title to my zine I thought that “Planting the Flag at the Summit” would be fitting because it pays a little homage to the person who got me into photography. It also gives one the sense of accomplishment and for me that was me being able to finally put my photos “out there” in print.
What initially drew me to your photographs were the captions, why do you decide to write captions while most photographers only post photographs online?
I am constantly creating my own commentary for myself about whatever is happening around me. Adding captions to my photos just came naturally because I am thinking these things in my head anyway- while I am taking the photo. My goal would be to combine the captions and the photos as a final product.
How did you link up with Ed Templeton and how has that friendship changed things for you?
The first time I met Ed was on a skate trip out to Phoenix, AZ. My first impression was that he was so easy to talk to, it was like taking to someone you already knew. He asked me to go on a Toy Machine U.S. Tour in the summer of 2007. After the tour I moved from Long Beach to Costa Mesa and I would skate with him at lot at the Huntington Beach skate bowl (park) before they tore it down. After hanging with Ed on and off the board I quickly learned that we had a lot of common interests, including a similar sense of humor. In 2009 Ed asked me to help print some of the photos for his upcoming “Seconds Pass” show in LA. During that time I spent a lot of days over at the Templeton house hold working in their garage dark room printing photos. I would take breaks from printing and go upstairs to Ed’s office and he would share photography tips and darkroom techniques or tell me stories about early Toy Machine trips.
I would try to ask as many questions as I was able, trying to harvest the wealth of knowledge I had at my disposal. I look up to both Ed and Deanna as photographers and being able to travel and shoot photos with them has been fun of course. But more importantly it has been really educational for me. I had limited exposure to the world of photography and they burst the door open for me, showing me photographers they liked, shooting techniques, and equipment, etc. I would never have been exposed to a lot of these things on my own and I am so grateful for our friendship.
Do you see the world first as a skateboarder or a photographer?
I feel that I see the world through both perspectives. I notice this a lot when I am driving down the street and I will see a potential skate spot and I think of all the tricks I would want to try on it. Then further on down the street I will be stopped at a light and I’ll see a mom with a child on a leash walking her dogs across the street and I would be wishing they were close enough for a photo. I cant count how many epic photos opportunities I see just driving down the street.
Grant do you think the internet has become just a clutter of people posting anything and everything they can find, without any real substance or content?
It may seem that way to me at times with Facebook or Tumblr. But you are able to choose what you are exposed to on the internet and I try to only subscribe to things that relate to who I am.
If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life what would it be and why?
At the moment it would be Neil Young’s On the Beach. Each time I go back and listen to this album I find different lyrics that speak to me and relate to what’s going on in my life.
Of all the places you have traveled to and photographed, which place in particular has had the most impact on you as a man?
Traveling across the U.S. for the first time was a real eye opener and it really made me appreciate the diversity our country has to offer. I had a lot of preconceived notions on how the rest of the states looked and how people lived, and those were all shattered. I was fascinated how some states changed geographically as you pass through them and how each region has their own culture and beliefs.
A lot of photographers these days try a lot of different techniques to differentiate themselves. Your photography captures a very human element. Why do you think this is true?
I feel that my photography is just an extension of my love of people-watching. I am interested in the way people project themselves to the world. I like reading peoples’ faces or hand gestures and seeing how they dress because it allows you know so much about a stranger without having to have a conversation with them.
I love the HB Hilton, past curfew. How is a picture like this taken?
This photo was a double exposure that happened by pure accident. It is a combination of two different scenes from a hotel party during the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, CA.
Skateboard part that changed everything?
Leo Romero – Stay Gold. He embodies all the traits of what a skateboarder should be. Just wait and see what this part does to our future generations of skateboards.
What is one thing that you read or saw today that had an impact on you?
I saw a wheelchair at the beach today that had off-road tires on it so it could roll on the sand. I thought if I ever end up in a wheelchair at my old age there is no excuse for me not to be at the beach.