Something that I have just started to learn and accept at my young age is that there is no way to plan out your future. You can strategize, plan, and try all you won’t but the path of life is unpredictable and spontaneous. This week’s featured Snocial, Kyle Beckmann, is a prime example of this. Kyle’s passion for photography wasn’t discovered until he was going to college in Florida. There he got into mainly shooting skateboarding and didn’t start shooting snowboarding let alone going snowboarding until he moved to North Carolina. Flash forward thirteen years and he’s now a well-respected snowboard photographer based out of Lake Tahoe. Hearing how someone’s life can take such a shift makes you really wonder just how different your life will be in the course of a few years.
How did you first get into photography and how long have you been doing it for? I got into photography by chance. I took an intro to photography class my freshman year of college in 2002 just cause it sounded chill. I had shot a bunch with this rangefinder my cousin gave me in High School, but never really took development and printing seriously. It all pretty much blossomed from there. Ended up pursuing fine art as my major, but on the side, my friend Phillip would make me come shoot him skateboarding. That’s how I ended up meeting some kids that are now pro, like Manny Santiago, Brad Cromer, and Joey Ragali. Basically they were the ones that got me into shooting action sports. When I moved to North Carolina that’s where snowboarding came in. So about 13 years now.
You’re involved with the relaunch of Heckler Magazine, what’s your role there and how did it come about? I honestly couldn’t be more stoked about this. I got asked to come on board last winter as a photo editor but things got a little stagnant. After we restructured the staff this summer, things are really moving along. It’s really rad to be apart of a magazine with so much history in snowboarding and skateboarding. I am literally putting the finishing touches on our digital magazine as we speak.
Say your house was burning with all your photos in it and you could only save one of them, which would it be and why? That’s a really tough question. I really don’t have too many prints. All my film is in binders, and i just scan it in. I also haven’t had a place to live for more than 6 months for the past 4+ years until now so having a ton of prints really isn’t on my list of things to do. But if I did print them all, and they were all burning in my house, I would say, “let em burn!” The memories I need are in my head, not in my phone, not on my hard drive, and that’s just fine with me. Plus a fresh start is always nice. Let’s just hope I left my camera bag in the car.
What would you say is the biggest challenge facing photographers trying to make a living off snowboarding? The whole “making a living” part. I love what I do, so if it means delivering pizza four nights a week to pay rent, I’m in. I’m not saying I don’t make “ok” money, but not enough to write home to mom about if you know what I mean. It is what it is really. I am kind of known to get on another photographers case for underselling to a company. Mags are mags and they have set values for space so at that level it is pretty much based upon stories, and quality of image, so if you aren’t getting shit run, step up your game you know (note to self). But when kids trade gear for photos it belittles the value of every other photographers images. It’s rough in the streets right now.
Do you feel that there is a code of ethics that all photographers should follow? What would some of the codes be?
Well there is, kind of. I always try to be respectful of what everyone else is doing and what’s best for the industry. I wouldn’t say that there are the ten commandments of photography that is widely known though. I really think its the responsibility of an older, more seasoned photographer to point the new generation of photographers in the right direction, haze them a little bit, but get them on the level with the proper order of operations. I have Huggy, Estone, Yosh, Peare, and Abe Blair to thank for my upbringing. No specific codes except blame it all on the pocket wizards.
What’s your favorite thing to shoot outside of snowboarding and why?
I really love taking lifestyle portraits. Nothing posed, just people going about their day and you just document it. You really get some fucking rad images that way. Once they don’t feel you shooting them anymore, the true grit comes to life. I just shot a bunch of lifestyles of this 16 year old kid that is on the up in NASCAR, and it was really fun and an eye opening experience. I just told him to do his thing and ignore what I was doing. I am really proud of what came out of it.
What are your plans for this upcoming season/the future?
Right now I really just want to focus on getting on some good trips and praying that Tahoe gets some fucking snow. I can’t wait to see where Heckler takes me, and most importantly where my camera will take me. I guess thats the best part of what I do. I get to see some of the most amazing places with some really rad people, push a button, and call it work. I don’t think I really have any objections.