Mark Nisbet is a California-based photographer and filmmaker who has worked in the skateboard industry for more than 30 years. His approach to skateboard photography is unlike many — a quick scan through his Instagram portfolio shows Mark gets dynamic with his shots, whether it's heavy contrast minimalism or colorful chaos. To add to his style, we wanted Mark to test out our Atoll Ultra-Wide 2.8/17 Art Lens, and his results do not disappoint. Check the photos and read what he has to say about his experience with the Art Lens!
Hello Mark! We’re excited to have you here in our online magazine. Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself? What role does photography play in your life?
I’m Mark Nisbet, and I grew up in Long Beach, California but moved to Fullerton, California about a decade ago. I’ve been filming and shooting skateboarding for over 30 years. Photography is ingrained in every aspect of my life — if I’m not shooting, I’m developing, scanning, and editing it every single day.
What drew you to combine skateboarding and photography?
It started around 2000. I was working on a skateboarding documentary about pro skateboarder Mike Vallely. We traveled to Finland, Australia, and Vancouver documenting his life. I was really into black-and-white photography at that time and I had a dark room, so I ended up using the photos from the trips in the video.
Skateboarding is such a dynamic sport. How do you plan to get the unique shots that you want?
There’s no real planning, except maybe the cameras I’m going to use for shooting that day. Most of the time the skaters won’t wait for you, so you need to be ready to go. Once I start filming the trick, I’ll begin to figure out where I want to film it from. I’ll try to shoot photos in between tries and before and after the session with a few different cameras.
How was using our Atoll Ultra-Wide 2.8/17 Art Lens? What features did you enjoy?
The lens was great. It’s a really solid, sharp lens and it’s the only one in that focal range for M mount as far as I know. It filled a hole in my lens range, and I got some great wide-angle shots that I wasn’t able to get before.
What do you wish to convey through your photography?
I think I’m just looking to give the feeling of what’s happening at that moment. I’m really a documentary photographer. There is an order to the photographs and video for the day, and with those put together, there is a story.
Who/what influences your style and how do they do so?
Robert Frank, Grant Britain, and Peter Limburg are big influences. I like photographers who have a dramatic style and whose photos convey a lot of feeling.
You’re also a videographer! How do you find your experiences working with moving images similar and different?
The mindset is different when you’re working with moving images. With skateboarding, when you’re filming you don’t get a second chance--the skater might only land the trick once. So, it can be a little more stressful than shooting photos.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on my YouTube Channel, which I’m launching this month to celebrate my 50th birthday. It’s called The Brain Fields. I’m happy to have a place to share my process of documenting skateboarding and for people to see what goes into shooting film photography with different cameras.
Finally, what does an ideal day look like for Mark Nisbet?
It would literally be me loading different kinds of cameras with film and heading out to shoot. Pretty much, what I get to do most days.
Check out Mark on his Instagram!