CK Photography – I guess most of you guys already got shot at least once by this guy. Christian Kreuter, the Kassel (Germany) local is not only a downhill skateboarding addict, but also a passionate photographer.
What’s he up to do next, where does his passion come from and how long does it usually take time for Christian to get that one perfect shot – read through to find out more. Enjoy!
How did you start with the photography and what inspired you to focus on longboarding?
Photography drew my interest when I was a little kid, because my grandpa was one of the first guys in our area that owned a SLR (analog single-lens reflex) camera back in the days. I was embossed by countless old school slide evenings with my grandpa.
I started skating back in 2012 and because I was using my DSLR for two years already, I just gave it a try and shot my first longboard pics with the local scene here in Kassel.
One year later I shot my first downhill event, the I-Berg Freerace. I didn’t skate back then, but I wanted to get a closer look at the “pros”. I attended a few other events in 2013 for skating and shooting.
After attending the Fairytale Freerace 2014, I got some inquiries from different skaters wanting to get a glimpse of my pics. One of them was TD Longboards founder Lennart Thomsen.
He asked me, whether he could get a shot of his teamrider Quirin Ilmer and indicated me to launch a Facebook page, so that all skaters could see my pics. I thought that was a good idea and a few days later I launched the Facebook page “CK Photography”, the feedback of which was really lovely.
The KNK Longboard Camp later in the year 2014 was my absolute highlight. Despite poor weather conditions I had some very unique runs with skaters, who I later became good friends with. KNK was pure madness (laughs).
One week later, after I finished my post production work, I uploaded the pictures on my Facebook page and the “likes” went totally crazy. I literally reached the whole world with my work. People love their sport and I can capture those moments, this is just an awesome feeling.
Are you planning to shoot any events in 2016?
Honestly I wish I could attend every BigMountainSkate event in 2016. I really respect all the work the guys do and I wish I could be part of it with my pictures. Almabtrieb, Alpenrauschen and Bela Joyride are definitely on my radar for 2016.
There are some big differences between a planned shooting for advertising and shooting at events. I really know this by myself. How about you? Do you shoot “planned” shootings as well?
No, not really. As I often shoot at events, I don’t plan that much, I like to do some extra detail planning on portrait shootings and landscape pictures. Sometimes I plan skate shootings, like a shooting at noon with a flash. Here you tell the skater the exact place where to slide or do a trick, but I am more into the “real” pictures, which are not set-up.
At an event you can’t really tell the skaters how to skate and what kind of shots you would like to get. How does it take to get good shots out of an event?
As you said, as photographer you can’t plan where the skaters skate and slide before a corner. Only when you skate the road by yourself, you know exactly when something is about to happen where and when.
Tech-talk alert! You shoot with a Nikon camera, right?
Oh yes, I am a real Nikon Fanboy 🙂 I shoot with a Nikon D800 Body since 2015 and in previous years I worked with a D7000.
What I want is maximum quality and the Nikon D800 provides me with 7360×4190 pixel photos when shooting raw format (info: raw means, that the photographer has to do the final development of the picture. Shooting with .jpeg files, the camera does the development and you get a finished picture).
Only the burst mode is pretty slow of the D800, but I exclusively shoot with single exposure. This means I only have one chance to get the perfect shot. So if I miss the moment, it’s forever gone.
What lenses are you using for shooting downhill skating?
I am shooting 90% of all my skate pictures with the NIKKOR 70-200 2.8 VRII. When I shoot with a really wide open aperture, the pictures are pin sharp and on point and also the focus speed is really fast. And only for about 10% of my shots I use the Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART for landscape or campground shots.
What about post-production? How do you get the perfect image done?
I don’t make any difference, if it is people, landscape or skateboarding photography – I always check my basic rules, to see if I this is the perfect image.
- Is the focus on point?
- Is the exposure right?
- Did I capture the right moment?
So straight after a skateboarding event, the picture selection can take some days. When shooting a three day event, I mostly have 800-1200 picture to look at, but I learned to keep the rejects small.
And when I know the pictures that suffice my criteria I do some small corrections and put on the “CKP Look”. Right after that, I do the easiest thing, but also the most satisfying part of my work – export the pictures for Facebook, upload them and share them with all the skaters out there.
Would you share some useful tips for all the hobby photographers out there?
Sure! Here are some tips:
- So firstly don’t focus only on one photography topic. Take a look at the whole spectrum of photography, because you will learn a lot of things from one topic which you could use for another.
- Secondly I would say, that creativity is the next important thing. Therefore you should look for new angles and try some different camera adjustments like aperture, exposure time, or shooting with flash.
- Last but not least, I think you should take a look at other photographers and probably try to copy them or adopt stuff you like, to find your own photography style. Also, ask questions – talking with other photographers really helps and I honestly feel happy when I can help others. So contact me anytime you want!
- Uh, and before I forget, I have some tech-talk information for you guys out there: The lens is way more important than the body of your camera set-up and you should get your hands on fast memory cards. It is really a pity, if the memory card is too slow to capture the right moment!
What other motives do you shoot besides longboarding?
I also shoot people, landscape and travel pictures and therefore I launched a second Facebook page at the end of 2015 for those kind of pictures. As you said, I recently shot a lot of skateboarding, but I want to broaden my mind and learn something new.
The good thing with photography is that you can shoot everything and therefore it is really necessary to look beyond the boundaries.
When shooting with people, I don’t want to catch an orchestration, I am more interested in people and how they live, what they have experienced or what makes him or her special. And when I’m shooting landscapes, I am aiming to capture pictures of touching places and where I can think back in time when looking at them.
Thank you Christian for a great interview and your insight into longboard photography. Any shoutouts?
Of course. I would like to thank everyone out there who support me and follow me on social networks. I’m very proud, that i can work with BigMountainSkate and Longboard Magazine. Special thanks goes out to my family and friends:- Mom and Dad, love you.- of course Grandpa, who has shown me the path to photography- my crew: Arthur, Fionn, Al, Philipp and Elias- the „Sonnenblümchen Racing Team“: haha, if you read this you will know who i mean 😉
If you’re in town, get in touch and we skate some hills together and take some photos. Otherwise, I hope to see you on the hill soon and keep safe. Cheers!