Behind the Shot: Zach Griswold


The YoBeat Firing Squad can be a harsh mistress, especially when Tim is feeling zany and posts a joke shot to prove a point (or something.) But after five commanding victories in a row, there is no doubt that Zach Griswold earned his DAKINE photo pack and spot in the Champion’s gallery. As always, we caught up with Zach to find out more about his winning photo.

Who is the skater in this shot? Where and when was it taken?

The skater in this shot is Connor Ose. You’ll probably be seeing more of him in the coming years, as he just turned 17 so he’s got a lot of good skating ahead of him. I hate and love shooting with the kid, he is quite picky about the spots we skate(this spot was a warm up spot for where we were going) but when he skates, his style is something to be admired. It’s so fluid, he did this ollie about 8 times just to get his back foot perfectly horizontal on the board, which most people probably didn’t notice, but it matters. This shot was taken in Winooski, Vermont, at a church that has some actually potential for a good skate spot, but needs some bondo in places. It was shot March 2nd, which, in Vermont is still very cold.

What camera/flash set up did you use?

For this shot I was shooting with my canon 15mm fish(yes, please make fun of me more kids) on my 5dMKII(Which I was told to get by Ben Birk). I used 2 Nikon Sb-900 flashes far left, and far right. I use Nikon flashes because I never use TTL BS auto modes, and Nikon makes a far superior flash, not to mention at the time I got them at a discounted price. They were all triggered with PocketWizards. This particular shot was at 1/250 shutter speed, thanks to my pocketwizard mini TT1, which lets the 5DMKII go way beyond it’s quoted 1/200 X-Sync. Technical garbage, unless you really care about photography and equipment.

If you took it again would you do anything differently?

If I took it again, I would not have sent it to yobeat(just kidding). But honestly, I don’t know, I spent a good amount of time trying to frame it perfectly so the bar went straight threw the middle of the church so that the two steeples would remain important in the background, I suppose if I went again, I would zoom the flashes so I could get less light on the stairs. Honestly, I didn’t shoot fisheye to make him look like he’s going bigger or anything, I used the fisheye to frame it how I wanted, which wasn’t an option with standard lenses.

Did you feel bad desecrating a church by skating at it?

Yes and no. Yes because I do believe in God, some people may not understand, or even make fun of me, I don’t really mind what they think. Everything happens for a reason… I don’t go to church, but I know there’s someone up there. And NO because this church is in Winooski, where more people have desecrated around that church than skating ever could.

There was certainly some discussion about the final battle. Did you learn anything valuable from the comments? Which was your favorite?

Yeah, that Mike kid is real neat, he sure is fun. Honestly, There wasn’t a week where I ever talked sht about the other person’s photo. Sometimes I don’t like a photo, but I wouldn’t say it to the photographer. People just don’t understand that if you really like doing something, and it’s your passion, that it really sucks to hear or see people degrading it. But if I had to choose a favorite comment? P Money Dolla BILLLZZZ on June 3rd, 2010 at 1:08 pm:
Who does the champ think he is???? That church is quite obviously photoshopped in and the kid isnt even ollie’ing the right way.. the stair set is going the other way DERR.

Who the hell are you? Where do you live and how long have you been shooting?

Haha, good question. My name is Zack Griswold, I’m a Vermont local photographer, and I’ve been shooting real photos for about 2 years now. I don’t get to shoot many skaters unfortunately, there are about 8 probably that really stand out in Vermont, and they’re always super busy. I learned by just taking photos, all the time, and I was REALLY AWFUL! It wasn’t until I met Mike McDonald, who really opened my world to actual photography that I started getting better. He taught me all about off camera flash(the secret to making mundane photos look a lot better) and criticized the hell out of me until I started improving. I also spent dozens of hours online studying photographer’s work, I really got inspired by Chris Whitaker, a kid from my high school that killed it behind the lens, and started shooting with most of the skaters I know now. But yeah, shooting photos is a lot of fun.

Did you think the shot of Nick Visconti’s fly out was funny?

If it didn’t mean a 5th week I would have laughed a lot more haha. Nah, it was definitely pretty funny, but honestly, I think the funniest part was people tearing it apart, like actually criticizing it as they would a photo someone took time to take. It was definitely shot with a nice cam, no doubt, but he didn’t mean for it to be some jaw dropping photo. It was actually a pretty sick grab though, but the grab that cought the eye of most, well that was the grabbing of the coner/cone boner.

Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?

Yeah for sure… get a mentor, get inspired. Don’t ask questions from someone who you don’t actually like their photos. Peep professional photos all the time, the closest one to you right now? Tim Zimmerman. His back country work is inspiring. Annie Leibovitz, albeit a portrait photographer, has definitely portrayed amazing advice through her photography, Annie At Work, is an awesome book about her life behind the camera. Mike Blabac has a book that I keep next to my bed all the time, you should all definitely have some photographers to look up to, or you would have no goal. Just to name a few, here are a few photographers you should check out— Atiba, Blotto, Shem Roose, Oli Gagnon, Cole Barash, Mike Blabac, Tim Zim, Skin Phillips, Grant Brittain, Chris Whitaker(smaller now, just wait) and many more. If you dont love what you’re doing, than don’t do it, trust me, it’s better to be poor and happy, than rich and pissed.

Check out more of Zach’s work at

  • Z

    I forgot to mention Aaron Blatt under people to check out, his work is amazing, and he’s also the nicest photographer I’ve personally met.

  • ye

    yeah zack

  • jimbo

    Sick shot, too bad it got overshadowed by a shit-talk tornadoe last week….

  • Nice shot! The fisheyness is sick too! Too bad you dont shoot nikon, someone showed me this 6mm fisheye they made….


    But yeah, sick shot. Especially how he is separated from the dark church in the background. Did you try to do any distortion correction at all?

  • Z

    Thanks Jimbo, it sure did haha.

  • Z

    Haha, yeah I’ve seen that fisheye in person, it’s so fish you actually see behind the lens a little. As for distortion correction, I’ve tried it on photos with no success, it looks almost pincushion and I lose a lot of the photo in the top, bottom and sides. But yeah, flashes make for great separation! Thanks matt.

  • We should be friends. I like your thoughts.

  • Z

    haha thanks man, your films are tight

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