Interview: Derby photographer Sam Mlot

This month we chat to Derby’s most notorious photographer, Samual Mlot. With a strangely memorable name and shots like these in his portfolio, we’re sure he’s going to blow up in in the not too distant future.

Hooked:
Tell us a bit about yourself – you’re Derby’s notable skate photographer, what else do you do?

Sam Mlot:
I read tonnes of books, magazines and blogs, produce random pieces of art, web design, watch skate videos, practice mixed martial arts and study. I like to travel too.

Hooked:
You film as well as shoot stills, which do you prefer?

SM:
The photography side all the way, the whole process of it is just so much more interesting for me because it allows me to try to compact that whole moment into one image and then share that moment with people, obviously you can do that with videography but as the saying goes a picture can tell a thousand words. I also feel that I can get more creative with photography.


Hooked:

What are your 5 top tips for a great skate photograph?

SM:
Don’t pressure the person you are taking a photo of to get it done quick, you need to have patience.
Remember composition and rule of thirds.
Be creative with your angles and put some thought into the shot before you press the shutter.
Work on your timing, this is the most crucial part of a skate photograph and if you don’t have this nailed then the people viewing it won’t have a clue what the trick was.
Don’t just pick up a camera thinking your the next Atiba, work hard on learning to use the camera properly and understanding your own ways of making an image stand out.

Hooked:
What cameras do you use?

SM:
At the moment for my digital work I’m using a Canon 20D and for 35mm I’ve got an old Canon 650. I’m hoping to upgrade my digital set up soon and also purchase a medium format system like a Hasselblad or a Bronica.


Hooked:

You’ve had a couple of sequences published of Jacob Bettinson in Sidewalk, how does that feel?

SM:
It was kind of surreal to me because at the start of this year I had a goal to try and get one thing published somewhere and for me to be able to make it happen twice in my favourite skateboarding magazine was overwhelming, I’m just grateful Jacob was able to help me out with that. It has definitely helped me out a lot.

Hooked:
What photographers do you look up to or see as inspirational?

SM:
There’s so many photographers that inspire me, the obvious ones being people like Atiba, Templeton, Blabac, Brittain, Yoon, Reda, Burnett etc. But there’s also photographers from Kingpin & Sidewalk like Sam Ashley and Chris Johnson whose work inspires me. Terry Richardson also inspires me too, he’s a great fashion photographer and has an awesome lifestyle, I’m always reading his blog (http://www.terrysdiary.com/). Toby’s abandoned buildings work is pretty inspirational too, I need to go and do some of that stuff soon.

Hooked:
You’re working on a Derby video due for release in 2012 – What have you got planned for that and how will it stand out from other videos out there?

SM:
This video is going to be so good, I can feel it already! There’s me and Chevy Thompson working on the filming and editing so there’s going to be a tonne of creativity put into it when it comes to putting together the final product, but there’s also so much talent in the Derby scene and everyone has already been listing what tricks they are wanting to get down for it so the actual footage itself is going to be amazing, it’s just hard at the moment getting footage together due to the lack of days that it’s dry, but as soon as the good weather starts coming back the filming is going to be full on. We’re hoping to get absolutely everyone involved and keep it 95% street. You never know, we might plan a premiere for this…


Hooked:

How much do you skate yourself these days – or is all of your taken up with lurking with the camera waiting for the shot?

SM:
I started getting lazy a while back and just focusing solely on the photography whilst I was still learning the basics of it all, but now that I’m more confident with my shooting I’ve started to get back on it with my skating and I’m learning stuff again, so I reckon there will be a part from me in the upcoming video, watch out for that haha


Hooked:

Who’s your favourite person to shoot pictures of?

SM:
I love shooting with everyone, but My favourite would definitely be Nick Roberts. He’s always got so much energy and is really fun to work with, some of the stuff he lands is just mad and it has definitely helped me a lot with my photography working with him.


Hooked:

What are the next steps with your shots – have you thought about an exhibitions, printed books or even large prints for sale?

SM:
Oh man, I would love to do an exhibition! I reckon in about 4 or 5 years when I’ve got a solid portfolio I might do one, I’d love people to come and see my work in a gallery and receive feedback from it. In the meantime I’m thinking of putting out a book maybe at the end of filming for this video to document all of the work that went into it and showcasing some of the tricks as well as the lifestyle aspect of it. Also, if someone wants to buy a print of one of my photos I’m down for that, just send me an email and I’ll sort something out…

Hooked:
What else are you working on right now?

SM:
Getting a job, getting more things published, updating my website and building my portfolio. I’m only 16 now, so hopefully if I keep improving my work and producing better quality images I might get a job out of it with the next couple of years, I’d love that.


Hooked:

You’ve seen the Hooked video ‘Yo, Gimme Dat’… what’s your favourite trick in it?

SM:
There were so many good tricks that it would be hard to name my favourite, but if I had to choose it would definitely be Kearney’s flip to road at the end of his part, that gap is gnarly and he earned himself a new board for that one! Just wait until you see his next part, hammers!


Hooked:
Finally, who’s your favourite skater to watch – US or UK pro?

SM:
I reckon I could easily sit in and watch Heath Kirchart or Justin Figueroa all day, I think I’ve watched Figgy’s B-sides like 30 times now…

Hooked:
Any shout outs…

SM:
My mum and dad for being proud of my work, my girlfriend for being there for me, Daz for telling me when my work sucks and what to work on, Jacob and Martyn at Enuff for get my work out there, Gabrielius for taking my abuse for the past 7 years, Chevy for making filming fun and providing the banter, Shane for pretty much getting me into this, Kearney, George, Ash, Griffin, Will, Leech, Conor, Gauch, Nick, Fraser, Milner, Lewis, Ryan, Josh, Brett, Aidan, Popp, Jay, Mr. Tom, Bastow, Tom Ball, Dani, Garth, Crofts, Mark, Toby and any else I’ve skated with or took photos with over the past year and a half… Also, thanks to you Dave and Hooked for making this happen!

Check out Sam’s website and blog here for full portfolio. Don’t forget if you want to be part of his new Derby video project, get in touch with him through FB and if you’re nice he might film you!

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