Sean Carabarin Street Memo Interview
STREET MEMO :
Things in life boil down to choices, choices of tricks, choices of subjects, choices of locations and Sean makes the right choices. In my book, any skateboarder that has done a 360 flip over the block at Crescent Park is amazing and Sean has done it. His photography demonstrates again and again that he makes the right choices. I got a chance to talk to Sean about making these proper choices with Photography, Skateboarding, Illustration and his new project “Swishy Pants.”
Street Memo: Sean "Seancho" Carabarin , Photo: Onefinger
Interview by: Stephen Serrano
So when did you decide to start shooting photos?
Jack Curtain , Switch Shuvit, Photo: Sean Carabarin
"Video, I just didn't have the patience, fuck all that. There's too much to learn, and to sit there and wait forever for people to land shit... Over that real quick."
I think it was later in 2011, 2010, 2009, I got more serious about it.
When I was in high school, I had friends that were photographers and they were taking photo class in high school and I never really fucked with it. I just went to computer class. I learned how to edit video stuff, but when I really got into it was 2011.
I just moved back to the city, messing around, you know, everybody had the DLSR video cameras and we were messing around, filming with that. I realized that DLSR's sucked, and maybe I’ll just try and start shooting photos with this.
Then it started getting more, I got a lot more into it. And it just got me stoked because like when I was in high school, we would come into the city all the time. So they would come to the city and my friends would take photos and shit and I would tell them like, “Oh, it'd be sick if you shot it this way, like somebody skating 3rd and Army towards you, so you get the background and everything.”
At that point it was like, okay, that's what I wanted to do. I didn't know if it was video or photography.
Video, I just didn't have the patience, fuck all that. There's too much to learn, and to sit there and wait forever for people to land shit... Over that real quick.
So it just shifted more, to photography. I've always liked the aesthetics, whether or not it’s even skating. I wanted to do that, your own vision on how you want to things to look in your control, to be able to create. I think that was the biggest draw for me, being able to be as creative or non-creative as you want.
Phillip Santosuosso , Photo: Sean Carabarin
What was the first skate photo you took where you could say,
“I'm proud of this.” ?
Phillp Santosuosso , Photo: Sean Carabarin
"That was the photo where I was like, 'Damn.' That got me sparked."
It's funny you say that, and it's funny that this is a conversation that we're having. But it was when I first met Phil.
He came out to the city with Thai. I still was trying to wrap my head around how to do everything. I think the photo was an Ollie over a barrier to hill in the city. There's no flashes or anything. He was almost completely black. You couldn't really see him, but it was just the contrast in the photo.
That was the photo where I was like “Damn.” That got me sparked. It could have been anybody that was doing it, but it was him that day and it just worked out that way and that got me really pumped.
I thought 'Okay." Obviously I can do this, and now it's more or less how do I do it and how to keep evolving and keep learning it.
That was probably one of the first things that I’ve taken that I've been like actually really stoked on. Then after that, it was just like nonstop trying to fucking learn as much as I could.
So what's the most recent one you’ve taken that you’re proud of?
Jimmy Wilkins , Photo: Sean Carabarin
"There's a whole other side to skateboarding I really didn't ever pay attention to and to watch someone like him do it firsthand I was just blown the fuck away."
It's been raining a lot here, so it's been a minute.
There is one. One ended up being an ad, it was Jimmy Wilkins. I've never really watched anybody skate vert, I’ve watched Max Shaff skate vert and that was amazing. But Jimmy Wilkins was probably one of the raddest I’d ever seen skate vert, just the way it looks.
I shot a Thunder ad with him, he’s doing a Crossbone and I’m standing up on a ladder on top of the vert ramp. I’ve never shot something like that before, I think that was a lot different. That got me pumped, cause it’s different, it's not street shit.
It was one that had you like, oh wow, there's a whole other side to skateboarding I really didn't ever pay attention to and to watch someone like him do it firsthand I was just blown the fuck away.
The photo was rad, that photo was the ad, but the one that got me the most sparked wasn’t the ad. It was one that we shot after filming the commercial for Thunder. My friend was up on a ladder and I shot a photo with the ladder. The fisheye pointing out that the ladder is in the frame. There's two people holding it, my friends on the ladder and then Jimmy is in the frame of the ladder doing the trick. That one got me the most sparked, to be honest.
Jimmy Wilkins , Photo: Sean Carabarin
What’s your favorite Phil photo or Phillip story??
Phillip , Photo: Sean Carabarin
"It's not some dusty dude doing it. It’s some thugged out white dude thats confused if he’s Stevie Williams or fuckin John Cardiel."
We're just fucking around, skating One Shell, it was me, him and Zork. And they’re wallriding the wall, back wallriding and the shit out of it, like really, really, really, really high on each of them. People are really stoked on the photo, because he's up there and his kit is real, real, real baggy. He doesn't look like someone that you would expect to be able to wallride the shit out of something, kind of breaking the norm.
It's not some dusty dude doing it. It’s some thugged out white dude thats confused if he’s Stevie Williams or fuckin John Cardiel. It's funny because it’s the background of my phone.
That was a fun day too, definitely that one of Phil, it always gets me sparked, because it's cool to see people that don't look like they would like that be able to skate that and skate it well, which is a good thing to see.
He’s one of my favorite skateboarders, like I have a lot of friends. The Deluxe filmer lives with us, all kinds of random people have stayed with us for a week, Mason Silva , he's an amazing skateboarder.
But there's no doubt in my mind that Phil is what skateboarder reminds me of, and what a skateboarder should be, generationally speaking.
So is it hard sometimes to stop skating and pick up the camera and shoot?
It just always depends where I’m at. If everyone's having a good time and skating, then I'll just stop skating, and pick up the camera and shoot. You have to figure that one out, whether you're going to sit on the sidelines or you're going to participate. Sometimes the sidelines aren’t a bad spot.
I would say it's not that hard now, before when I was younger, it was a lot harder because I wanted to skate, I wanted to film a trick. Now I'm not going to give a fuck about filming a trick. Just want to get what I came here to do. That's kind of how it is now.
It's one thing when I travel, I find it hard to not skate because there's a lot of places we go. It’s the first time I've been there, I’m just super pumped on getting out there and trying to skate. Traveling makes it extremely hard to fucking split that shit up.
Seancho, 360 Flip at Crescent Park
What’s the story behind this photo of Frank Gerwer laying on the ground?
Frank Gerwer , Photo: Sean Carabarin
"Sometimes there's no there's no real secret sauce to the recipe. It's fucking around with your friends and having a good time."
That was at my house and taken on a Polaroid, right? So Frank came over and he was in the backyard by himself, just like smoking a spliff hanging out with the dogs. The lighting in the kitchen was really sick because where the doorframe was outlined by the shadow of Frank. I was like “Frank let me take a photo of you.”
Then Frank said, “Hold on. Let me do what the dogs do.” He just laid down.
Kind of just worked out that way. Frank just being Frank. That's another amazing individual.
Well, sometimes there's no there's no real secret sauce to the recipe. It's fucking around with your friends and having a good time. That makes the raddest photos, not posed, not someone not being who they are. They're who they are and you're just capturing that. I think that one thing that is really cool about skate photography is that you can go one or two ways. You can do that, you be like, “Okay, stand next to this wall, do this, maybe look that way.” If you can do it without having to coordinate all that bullshit the photos feel a lot more genuine.
Not to say that people who see it that way and do that kind of stuff like they kill it , and I back the shit out of it. I think it's cool. But for me, it's just not that's not how I operate. I think it's cool to take skateboarding and try a more journalistic approach to it.
The photos don’t have to be cropped in and super tight, like I like to shoot wide. I like to be able to see and let people see everything that's happening, because I think that we kind of miss out on that and a lot of photography in skating shit because it's not necessarily just the trick or, “He's doing the trick.” The spot it’s fucking amazing. That's one reason why I really like shooting, not necessarily in SF but out of town, like in New Orleans, there's so much more to be seen.
Can you explain the vision behind swishy pants?
So this is a good one , for the longest I’ve thought, that's the generation of skating I grew up in. I remember shit all the time, Pappalardo, Kalis skating and then The Reason, or Kalis in Alien videos, the way he does switch tres on flat ground, just that kind of shit.
That aesthetic, there is a whole style to it. Before the late 90s and 2000s were making a comeback, I was already thinking about doing this. I made them before everybody started doing it. Then everybody did it. I had gotten two samples and I was like, oh, this is cool. I made some tweaks to it. I was tired of buying shit that I didn't really like. I was tired of getting pants and it being, “These would be sick if they were like this or that.”
So I decided to say, “fuck it.” Just like everything else that we do in our lives, the skateboarders would take it in your hands. Decided to make shit that I like. I don't give a fuck about anybody else.
I didn't take anybody's advice or consideration when I made my pants because that was what I wanted. I made them because I wanted something different and something the way that I wanted it, and if it translates to people where they're like “Sick, I like these.” Then I did something right.
The reason why I did it was because I'm just tired of buying shit that was fucking mediocre and just not what I wanted, so I wanted to make what I wanted and it worked. I didn't realize people wear small and medium, it tripped me the fuck out, I wasn't gonna make small and medium.
I have a bunch of XL and large still left, which is cool because now it's like my own personal shit. I can grab whatever pair I want. The whole point of the pants is just to make something that I wanted, and it's kind of weird, kind of corny, but it was like I made it for myself and I would hope that somebody else would like it. A lot of people do. Some people don't. That's fine.
Any last words??
A last word for me would definitely be, do the shit that you like. Make the shit you want, and fucking back yourself. Back everything you do. Back what your friends do.
Be fucking supportive of one another 100 percent because that's the only way they can really keep going in the way that they're going.
If everybody keeps supporting what everybody else is doing. There'll be a lot more cool shit happening, and love everybody.
Street Memo: Sean "Seancho" Carabarin
Interview by: Stephen Serrano