The cover was shot at Kelly Belmars pool—a very fitting place for the cover since he paid for the construction of his pool by screening board graphics in the late ’80s through the early ’90s. To shoot the cover I brought a couple of strobes, a laptop and a new Canon 1Ds borrowed from Surfing Magazine. That was my first real digital shoot, but I didn’t tell anyone there until we were done! Before I went over to Kelly’s I set up a Quark file with the cover mockup ready to place an image into. The idea was to shoot a few shots, download them and see how they looked. We had conceptualized a few things before hand but who knew how it was going to turn out. I’d met Lance Mountain once when I was a kid at a skate camp in Oregon; I was really young and pretty sure he wouldn’t remember me. He is also my favorite childhood skateboarder so this was a nerve-racking experience to say the least.
Prior to this we had discussed a few tricks that would show a lot of board graphics, like an Indy air shot from the deck, a sweeper shot low, or an invert from above. Lance had done a shoot years ago with Grant Brittain, I think, with the same concept as we used for the invert (probably shot with a pole cam). He showed up dressed for the era, wearing a old Jeff Grosso shirt and holding an ’80s version of his board with Indys on it, but the back truck was wider and too big for the era—this would have to be changed in Photoshop.
Getting the shot was a scary situation. Belmar’s pool is at least 12 feet deep and I was perched on top of a step ladder leaning out over the deep end. Eric Bentley held on to the back of my shirt to keep me from falling. The camera was extended out as far as my arms could reach to get directly above Lance’s invert (remember the camera was not mine and the guy who loaned it to me would have been fired had it been damaged). There were a couple times he lost his board and it hit me in the stomach, but I didn’t care since we got the shot. It didn’t take long; I think we only shot 12 images but that’s all we needed. As soon as I thought we had the photo, I downloaded it into the file to verify and we were done. There were no Polaroids, snip tests, bracketing, or shooting 2 rolls—it was visible on the back of the camera and on screen in a few short minutes. This experience proved to me that digital was the way to go. The initial cover was done minutes after shooting, and just needed some post work.
Lance Mountain, 12 tries. © eric simpson
The Disposable Skateboard Bible cover was a similar idea, but without a person.
Santa Cruz had recently reissued a Rob Roskopp that would work perfectly. I set up the board and went skating with my buddy Kurtis because this couldn’t look brand new. After an hour of skating it was time to break it but that wasn’t as easy as I’d thought. I’ve broken plenty of boards and Kurtis was breaking them regularly at the time but intentional bad landings and several attempts at focusing this one and it was solid. We resorted to standing on the bus bench while the other person jumped on it like a diving board to try and snap it, success! It was broken to create the cross and mood for the book while allowing for a strong title.
The floors of my studio were the texture I wanted but wrong color so that was changed in post. There are a few other small changes but I’ll let you search for those.