General Ops

9/11 Moment Of Silence: A Skateboarding Photo Tribute

This weekend, we’re putting BATB on hold in order to observe a moment of silence for 9/11. The theme of BATB 12 is “community” and we need to always remember how powerful we can be when we all stick together. Never forget.

We’d like to extend a huge thanks to Bryce Kanights, Dimitry Elyashkevich, Mike O’Meally, Giovanni Reda, RB Umali, and Charlie Samuels. Your work has had a profound impact and today’s tribute video wouldn’t have been possible without you.

Donate to these 9/11 charities:

Tuesday’s Children
Heart 9/11
The FDNY Foundation
Families of Freedom Fund
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
Beyond The 11th

9/11 Moment Of Silence: A Skateboarding Photo Tribute

‘Harold Hunter Twin Towers’, shot by Charlie Samuels in 1989:

“K.T. at Thrasher asked if I’d do a photo essay on New York because he heard it was going off. I started shooting in Brooklyn but word was that this young kid named Harold from skateshop ’Skate N.Y.C’ (off Tompkins) could ollie like nobody’s business. So I settled on that crew and we skated all over the city that summer, listening to De la Soul’s new debut album. We knew that this was our shot at putting New York on the map as a skate town so we went everywhere. But no one felt pressure because we knew we had it—at least in street.

“Here’s what happened: We skated all over Manhattan and hopping subway turnstiles to get to certain locations (to get more shots!) so we also were skitching cars, cabs and box trucks by hanging onto whatever stuck out and staying low so they couldn’t see us. Not that they would have cared but we wanted to stay as stealth as we could in case they wanted to shake us off if they saw us. (I was skating with a canvas Domke bag full of an arsenal of lenses and a few cameras)

Of course, I wanted a great shot of one of us skitching but I was having trouble doing it photojournalistic-ally and I wanted my favorite backdrop in the background so I gave Harold a plan — that I’d go way ahead and shoot downtown with the WTC as backdrop.

“So we headed uptown to position the WTC behind us, explained to everyone my hand signals and I skated up ahead (I’m pretty sure it was La Guardia and Bleecker).

“Luckily, I saw a box truck parked with no one in it so I scrambled onto the hood, then on top of the cab and finally onto the top of the cube, then motioned for Harold to grab a cab, literally. I got up there because I wanted to see the street expanding perspective-wise behind him instead of it being compressed—just going for a different angle as pushing the limits is my signature. My camera was probably a good 15-20 feet above the street so I was hoping it would make a big difference visually. I squeezed off a dozen frames, then I asked Harold to do it again.

“Then the cube truck started up! The guy must have just had lunch so I got on the roof of his cab, stuck my head down and asked him to let me down before he took off. He didn’t have an ounce of anger and he obliged. (There was almost zero chance it was his truck and, no surprise, he liked being part of the mayhem/art/chaos.)

“I’m pretty sure I told all three of them NOT to look at me (to fake photojournalism) but Harold did and I’m glad. NYC was our skatepark then, literally.”

Charlie Samuels’s ‘Harold Hunter Twin Towers’ prints are available now at the Valet Goods site:

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