Concrete Magazine recently caught up with Photographer Ryan Allan and discussed growing up in Toronto and shooting Mark Appleyard, learning to shoot photos pre-internet days & pinpointing what makes a photo great. Check out a preview of the interview below, and click here to read the entire interview.


What came first, skateboarding or photography? How did one meet the other? Do you remember them coming together?

Photography was a part of my life from before I can even remember. My father was super into taking photos so I grew up around it. Skateboarding was also in my life from as far back as I can recall. More so as a toy up until I was 12. Then I really go into it and never stopped. Once I started skating seriously I would bring my dad’s camera out and shoot photos of the homies skating. They went hand in hand.

What was your first camera and how did you acquire it? Do you still have it?

For years I used my dad’s cameras. I think I bought my first camera in college. It was a Minolta of some kind. I bought it off a lady that was trying to unload it at the local camera shop. I overheard her and offered her slightly more than the shop did. It was stolen out of my car at a Zero demo years later.

Early on, how did you figure out shooting skateboarding? Did someone with more experience help you? Was it books, the Internet, school?

There was no Internet back then. Looking at photos in the mags. I scoured over them all the time. Comparing my shots to the big guns in California and Europe. I really gravitated to the English photo-guys styles. Their scene looked a lot more like the scenes we had in Ontario.

Who was the person you had the earliest success shooting with? Someone you got along with on a personal level that also happened to rip.

I got very lucky and lived near Mark Appleyard. He had obvious talent and was doing things that I hadn’t even seen in mags or 411 yet. It was pretty amazing to be right there for it. I tried to help Mark out as much as I could, because as a photographer that’s your job. He’s returned the favor many times over.

What photos jump out at you in a skateboard magazine? Can you pinpoint something that the best photos all have in common? Which ones get you excited?

The photos that get me excited are the ones from a new perspective or that have a rawness to them. Skateboarding is so heavy now that I don’t really even pay attention to the level of the trick. I am more amped on the style and the photo. I like where skating is at right now. These things are being appreciated.