It's a brisk Saturday morning in February, and KCDC Skateshop is packed full. Saturdays tend to be pretty busy, but this was busier than usual and too early in the morning for this kind of crowd. Camera-wielding skaters fill the shop wall-to-wall, everybody buzzing and eager to learn. There was a certain magic in the air. A legend was in town, and everyone present was in for a treat.
Giovanni Reda is one of skateboarding's best-known photographers. From Big Brother Magazine and TWS to Skateboarder Magazine to Thrasher, Reda has shot for all of the biggest names in the industry. He's shot anybody who's anybody in the skateboarding world going back at least twenty years, and for everybody he's shot, he can tell you a handful of wild stories about every single one of them. A few weeks back, he graced our humble little skateshop with his presence to host an event - a photo walk and crash course on skate photography in which he promised to share his wisdom with anybody who cared to listen.
As more and more skaters shuffle into the shop, cameras in tow, Reda moseys around casually chatting with anybody brave enough to approach seeking any camera tips or advice. Shop employees had a big pot of coffee ready, and the KCDC x Buddies brew was flowing. Once enough people are packed in and we had allowed enough time for all the stragglers to arrive, we get underway.
Reda starts things off by delivering an impassioned speech about the DIY ethos and ethics of skate photography. He stresses how important it is to recognize that we all belong to this community together, and as a community, it's incredibly important that we look out for one another. Whether it's sharing framing tips, equipment knowledge, or even handing out expensive and hard-to-obtain gear with nothing more than a hope that it will come back to you, we all need to look out for one another and uplift each other as much as possible. He stresses that above all, the most important thing is to get out there and be constantly taking photos. Suddenly, it becomes clear why he's here doing this whole event, why he has come well out of his way to spend a chilly Saturday morning with Brooklyn locals when he could be doing anything else instead. Reda is motivated by nothing more than heart, pure love for his craft, and a desire to spread that love to those around him. What could be purer than that?
After a nice little round of applause, a mob of about 20-30 people hit the streets together with Reda leading the charge. He takes us up and around the waterfront in Williamsburg, vomiting up a constant stream of words as he goes along. True to the ethos he has just professed, Reda is somehow finding time to personalize the experience for everyone in attendance. Whether it's looking at someone's camera, going through their photos, or offering advice for shutter speed and ISO settings, he makes sure that everyone gets specific attention whatever their needs.
A few blocks away from the shop, we find the perfect opportunity for everyone to test out some of their newly acquired knowledge. Our shop homie Justen offers to do a trick down a set, and Reda lines everyone up to take a shot. He explains how he would do it, walking us through everything including how to set up lighting, how he would frame the shot, and other environmental factors to consider. We get a little more practice as our team riders Reina and Elisa show up to give Justin a little break and do a kickflip down the set. Reina took a few slams but never lost heart, they got back up and landed the trick that had everyone stoked. People were happy with their shots, Reda gave everyone a few tips, and we moved on to the next spot.
The day continues similarly, as for several hours Reda takes everyone from spot to spot, cracking jokes and giving advice every step of the way. People are hanging on his every word as he walks, and nobody can get enough. He's quick-witted and funny and a joy to spend an afternoon with. By the end of the day, we are all wiser and more knowledgeable for having spent time with him. He's a big inspiration to all, and it felt very special to have him show us the ropes. Huge thank you to everyone who made it out and an extra special shout-out to Reda for making it happen! We appreciated you for coming out and hosting this event, thanks so much for being you.
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