The internet continuously fills our hunger for photos and videos of our steezy brothers and sisters. But not all choose to share the stoke in the front lines. Robert R McCarty has the mad skills to capture gnarly scenes with his camera. He spreads and shares his love of longboarding either on his board or with his passion for photography.
Born in Fort Sill, Ok (military brat) but grew up in Sacramento, CA. My core discipline is freeride and some downhill. Still in the infancy of my downhill ability. Still working on shutting down at speed. My stance is regular although I am working at switch.
How long have you been riding and how did you get started with longboarding?
Been longboarding going back to my days in Santa, Monica in the mid 90s. Took a long break and really dove into it two years ago.
How did longboarding change you as a person?
Longboarding has changed me in ways most folks probably wouldn’t expect. Most folks who know about longboarding around Seattle know of the Fakies.
About two years ago there is an epic hill my youngest son Micah would skate. He would easily get to speed at or about the low 40s. One day he was at this hill at an undisclosed location. This van full of skaters pulled next to Micah noticing that he was a fellow longboarder and asked if he wanted to skate with them and they would give him a ride to the top of the hill.
Like a good son he said he needed to ask his dad. Everyone agreed that was a good idea. I came with my camera and met all the Fakies. Then had the pleasure of watching my son and the Fakies bomb this hill. At that time at 13 Micah had no one to longboard with and for the first time ever he was able to skate with others who enjoyed the same passions. This was a joy and a privilege to watch.
Then Timmo asked me why I wasn’t skating too. I laughed with a hint of embarrassment and said I dunno know I think I might be a bit too old. He scoffed and said How old are you? I responded by saying I was 47 and he laughed said he was 56 and said to get my ass out there. So I did.
I mentioned that its a privilege to watch your son bomb a hill and watch him to do what he loves. It’s even better to skate side by side down a hill and share that love.
I am blessed to be able to share this experience with my son and be able to help foster this love of his AND take pictures at the same time. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Your everyday board
DB Keystone V2 37. Love the first version, love this one even better. It’s always in the trunk of my car without fail.
Caliber II Trucks 44 degree, Magnum Venom 78mm, Setup is a modest split angle wedge.
Your favorite thing to do on a board
Skate with my son. Usually I don’t have many shots with both my son and I so my wife Heather took this shot on her phone shortly after the sun had set. Don’t know a trick cool enough to get a shot of.
Describe briefly what do you do outside longboarding?
Outside of longboarding I love graphic arts, travel, and as most know already I live photography.
How did you get started with longboard action photography?
I kind of alluded to it previously. I wanted to do whatever I could to support my youngest son, Micah in his pursuit of his first love of longboarding. It didn’t take much time to notice that he was pretty good and I wanted to capture these father, son moments. Eventually I shared the pics of Micah and then friends, family and FB folks started telling me that I had a good eye.
Where my photography really shot through the roof was snapping pics at my first Maryhill RVOD in 2017. Lots of folks took notice of my style then I was in love with photography in general.Gallery not found.
Boardworks Tech Shop asked to use some of my pics from some of their events as well. I have dedicated myself at this art in all forms of photography and have a dream to make this my day job.
What is the minimum gear that you can’t leave behind when going on photoshoots?
Batteries and memory cards. At any event I am snapping at least 600 pics at a minimum while driving my camera pretty hard. This takes loads of space and power.
Frequently visited skate spots
Garages (anywhere), Greenlake, Alki, Edmonds, Ruston Way in Tacoma.
Top 3 tips to anyone who is interested in action sport photography?
First tip: Be patient with yourself as you develop and shoot everyday without fail even it’s a glass on your table. I used to think that my ratio of bad photos to good was abysmal. Talked to several pros who told me that they may get 15 really good photos or less out of a 100. Keep shooting and never stop.
Second tip: Be sure to move around and get as many different vantage points as you possibly can. Get high, like a ladder. Get low by laying down. Get sharp angles from your subject. Just move around a lot and as you do you will start to understand the shots that work best for the action and/or sports you are trying to capture.
Third tip: Have fun with the long, difficult and sometimes arduous process of developing your craft in photography. I am so far from where I want to be in my skill but I understand that anything that’s worth doing is painstakingly hard.
Do you use any post processing software tools? What do you like about it?
I use Lightroom mostly. I love that I have a wide array of presets that I can apply to a large number of shots from a particular shoot. So the last two day event I shot at was Maryhill RVOD 2018. I took almost 3000 pics. Trying to upload, catalog, sort, edit and export that many shots in any other program would be nuts.
I also love Lightroom’s non destructive editing. No matter how many edits I make, the original is always intact. Love this program.
Your most recent longboarding photo taken that stands out in your mind right now and why?
My most recent photo was a shot where I nervously held my very expensive camera following Mervyn Victoria at Greenlake. The sun was setting and I feel as if I was able to capture his contentment in a happy skate moment even though it was from behind.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I used to work in the movie industry doing sound design. My role was an assistant to the designer. I was involved in such projects as Air Force One, Face Off, Replacement Killers, Godzilla and more. The massive amount of firearms that were discharged in these movies were firearms I fired at a range.
What are your struggles right now?
I love photography but lately I am hitting a wall in my development at photography in certain areas. For example I am having difficulties being proficient at portraits. Seems easy enough but trust me when I say it’s harder than it looks. I feel totally comfortable at skate and concert photography.
Capturing a subject’s persona with that pose or smile that encapsulates who they are, has proven to be a bit elusive. But I will strive on.
One piece of advice
I thought long and hard about why I was asked to do this bio. The first thought that entered my mind was why me? Honestly, I was nervous about it and even stated that there are far better longboarders than me that are more deserving. Then I realized I may never bring the stoke like so many folks in this community will. I may continually bring up the rear when we hit the bottom of a garage run.
For too long I said I don’t care what others thought but I did to a degree. Now I am in such a good place in my life and I don’t care. I shouldn’t care. I am out enjoying where I am with longboarding and have a desire to get better with all who will share some space with me.
I am spending time with my son and supporting him in what he loves the most. I am making new friends in the longboard community and let this old fart tell you, the longboard community is absolutely amazing. So this is my long way of saying to –
feed that passion and don’t let what others think dictate your actions. Life is too short and too amazing to short change yourself
A personal quote that keeps you motivated
“Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.” CS Lewis
The Lonely Forest who are from Anacortes. Although they broke up a couple of years ago, their music reaches into the very spirit of my being. They have loads of vids on the Youtube channel for KEXP.
While I have a FB account from my photography called Robert R McCarty photography most of time is spent nurturing my Instagram account. My feed is @robrmccarty. I use this site to highlight my style, ability and interest as it relates to everything else and photography.
Do you have a website?
No, the plan is to have a professional website by mid February with a list of services I will provide.
- Robert R McCarty
- Freeride · Photography
- Fort Sill, OK, USA