FEATURE: Photography + Pizza w/ Rich Odam | “… any photo you stare at for more than 5-seconds is a good photo nowadays.”
Born in Peru, raised in Toronto, and matured in Vancouver; Rich Odam has been putting Canada’s top skateboarders and snowboarders on the map with his unique photography skills since the 90’s. With a love for the diversity of different photographic mediums as well as pizza, Rich approaches photography different than most of his modern day peers. His website is currently nonexistent. He messes around with strange film cameras. His Instagram is used to keep himself interested and create a home for his art, not to make himself famous by posting up skateboard shots of famous kids.
If more photographers treated their photography with the respect and integrity that Rich does there would be a whole less crap out there today. The man is traditionally sparse with his words, but we managed to catch up and have a look at his personal favorite images from traveling around the world…
All photographs + captions by Rich Odam.
Board Rap: Who serves up the best pizza in the world? Tell us about your best slice.
Rich Odam: Great question, but I still have lots of places to travel in order to properly answer this. Oddly enough there’s a pizza I’ve had that stayed in my memory as the best I’ve had. I tried it when I was a kid and traveled to Colombia. This street vendor had a huge black oven on a cart and sold slices in the street. I remember this as being the best I’ve had.
Nowadays, at least in Vancouver, there are some proper places popping up serving some legit pies.
B.R: What’s your Instagram ‘strategy’ for lack of a better word? You shoot with some of the biggest skaters in the world yet keep things pretty artsy, why don’t you blow that out and get 100k followers?
R.O: I feel my Insta account goes thru various changes along the way. It keeps it fresh and keeps me interested in it. Currently I’ve been digging thru my Hasselblad Xpan files and been posting lots of panoramic images.
What are your thoughts on skate print magazines versus websites? Does it mean more to see a photo in print?
Print mags are where it’s at. I have a collection of mags that I won’t throw away. I love having them and occasionally looking thru them. I love flipping thru magazines and photo books. It definitely means way more to me to have a photo printed in a mag than on a website. It’s tangible. I think every photographer will tell you that.
On the other hand, I’m pretty stoked on what Red Bull has done with its online program. I really dig the format. It’s cool because it’s not all about the biggest pro, but about really cool destinations and trip ideas. You also get to see skaters from all over the word that you might’ve not heard of before and it keeps it interesting.
Is there much that is getting you stoked in skateboarding right now?
To tell you the truth, not really, ha ha. Out here in Canada we’re down to one skate mag. We had 4 at one point, which was sick because it kept us working on new ideas and planning trips all over the place. It was a job… sort of, ha ha.
When it comes to online content or social media skate content I’m pretty selective, I feel it’s getting pretty washed out. There’s so much stuff out there. We’re being bombarded with all these feeds and little video clips (some are really sick), but they only stay in your brain until you see the next clip and the next clip and so on; its overload that I can’t care to keep up with.
The last thing I saw that stayed on my mind was this video of my homie Cameo Wilson, who’s gone thru some shitty injuries the past couple years and is now getting back to skating again. He had this massive, lofty kickflip at a skate park in Vegas. It was so fk’n big and stylish. I was hyped on that, had to watch it a few times. If anything it’s watching the homies skate that keeps me stoked. I just watched a clip of Matt Berger filmed by Jordan Hoffart that put a smile on my face because I don’t get to see them everyday.
Have you noticed the skate scene pulling away from Vancouver in the last few years back towards the East?
I moved to Vancouver over 10 years ago from Toronto because I thought the skate scene was getting really stale out east. It was going thru a change. Vancouver was popping off. It had the better weather plus all the distributors are out here; I kept flying here to shoot.
But that’s changed, the East Coast has been killing it the past few years. Places like Montreal and Toronto are off the hook. People have seen the potential of those massive cities and small towns nearby. I’ve actually been travelling back to Toronto to skate with TJ Rogers, Bobby De Keyzer, and all the homies. Montreal has all the big contests and they keep coming out with new shit. I love it, they have a great scene there. Vancouver still has a good scene though.
What kind of projects have you been working on lately?
I’ve been working in the film industry lots and that’s been taking up my time. I’ve been shooting lots more film specifically doing street photography. I love capturing interesting moments that only last a split second. Like in skateboarding you gotta be ready for something to happen and click that shutter at the right time because if you miss it, there’s a good chance it won’t ever happen again. It’s a really raw form of photography, which I enjoy.
How did becoming a dad affect your photography?
It didn’t. I’ve always been able to do what I wanted to do with my photography. When my daughter was born I was still travelling pretty heavy with skateboarding, going to places like Barcelona and China and staying for a month. Travelling thru winter and things like that. My wife is amazing and never nagged me about it, even though I wasn’t making that much money from all that. I always missed them when I was away and it was hard at times, but focusing on getting good images kept my head busy.
Things change though and for the best. I’m home a lot now and I love being really involved in my daughter’s growing up. When she was two, a couple years ago, I bought her a digital camera at this swap meet. It wasn’t a kids toy it’s a Canon digital point and shoot. She loves it. Every now and then she’ll pull it out and shoot photos of random things and you see how stoked she gets.
What makes a great photo?
Pretty much any photo you stare at for more than 5-seconds is a good photo nowadays, ha ha.
Where can we see your work?
To say I’ve been lagging on getting my website online is a huge understatement; it’ll happen one day… I hope. For now, I put my work on my Instagram account: @RichOdam