I met Ray Llanos through a mutual friend’s barbershop one night while Ray was photographing models for a look-book. Our skateboarding friendship began at KCDC one random weekend with a few other creative professional who make up the MadSkate community on Facebook. I’ve also worked with Ray for a while I assisting him in his studio. Ray is an amazing photographer & artist, his photos are always full of life and color, I can see the same vibrant colors and energy in his skate photography as in his carnival photography or any of his amazing body of work from the Caribbean. He truly loves the art of capturing light and telling stories through imagery. His photos from his session at Chelsea Piers are always amazing, not only does he capture the skaters, there is always layers, texture and depth to his images, the sunset in the background, the city peaking over the fence, as if watching the skating itself. – Peter Pabón
Full name? Ray A. Llanos What year did you start skating/photography? I started skateboarding in 1986. Even though I had always been an artist I started taking photography seriously in 2001.
This or That:
Film or Digital? I shoot both film and digital but mostly digital out of convenience. Kodak or Fuji? Kodak, Fuji, Ilford…I like to put in a roll of film and just take pictures under whatever conditions I come across and see what I can come up with. Canon or Nikon? Nikon. BW/Color? Both black-and-white and color. Whatever my camera is loaded with at the time. Sequence or Cover shot? Again both but I prefer a single shot that tells a whole story. Filming or just photos? At the moment I mainly shoot stills however I might dive into video at some point. Aperture or Lightroom? Photoshop… yes I’m still a little archaic with my post production process. Stop Down or Wide Open? It all depends on the conditions. sometimes stopped down, other times wide open.
Where r u living currently? I live in Harlem, New York City. What’s your favorite spot of all time? Don’t know that I have skated it yet. They’re building so many parks today DIY or municipal and I’m still having a lot of fun skating it all. Back in the day it was the Slappy Garage in Silver Spring, Maryland. What’s your favorite spot in NYC? Chelsea Piers Skatepark even though it just broke me off. (Chuckling but laughing at my pain…recovering from a dislocated elbow and fractured wrist.) Where would you like to skate/shot/visit in the future? Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Asia…wherever I can create an opportunity to go. Who do you like shooting in NYC? Anyone ripping and having fun, that inspires me to want to shoot them skating. Sometimes people just visiting or passing through town or it could be locals at the park or the kids in the Bronx.
Boards? First bought board was the Vision Mark Gonzales. Now I have a couple of different setups 8.6″ to 9″ wide but they all ride on Thunder Trucks and Spitfire wheels. Cameras? Right now it could be a D300s, F100 or 1975 Nikkormat, it all depends with a variety of prime and zoom lenses. All Nikon glass. Bands? I love music. I listen to a variety of genres Hip-Hop, Soca, Roots Reggae, Soul, Latin, Jazz…the list goes on. Since you said “band” I’d have to say The Roots. Skate Websites? SkateDaily.net Skate Crews? My DC Pulaski Fam and my New York Skateboarding Fam but I appreciate that skateboarding is so global. I love meeting new brothers and sisters skateboarding. Skate Mags? I subscribe to Thrasher and The Skateboard Mag. I like what Focus and some of the smaller mags are doing too. Tricks? Feeble grinds on tranny or street.
Favorite skate spot in New York? Chelsea Piers skatepark Favorite skate shop in New York? Labor Favorite NY based skate brand? Shut Favorite New York based movie? The Warriors. Favorite New York based skate vid or section? Mark Gonzales in Get Familiar Favorite thing to do in New York off the board? Listen to live music, go to clubs and art events. Favorite place to eat in New York? Ivy’s for sushi Favorite bar in New York? Wherever Bridgette is pouring.
New York opinions:
What did you think the first time you visited/skated/shot in NY? I was a young kid so I was dazed and amazed by the size and amount of people. What makes New York different than other places to skate/shoot? It’s New York and you have to shoot while you can because spots don’t always last long. The Good of NY? So many options. The Bad of NY? Congestion with pedestrians and traffic… sometimes the smell and the weather.
To anyone visiting New York to skate/shoot? Do a little research before you come. Also stop by one of the parks and get to know some locals… and just be ready to have fun. General advice to anyone who wants to start skate photography? First bit of advice is not to shoot on auto. It helps to know skateboarding if you’re going to shoot skateboarding. Timing is key… and always have fun.
Thank you Peter Pabón and NYSkateboarding.com for this opportunity and countless other opportunities to shine. Also thanks to the Shut Fam and ALL the homies in New York City for showing me love since I’ve been around. Much Respect due to Bryce Kanights, Lance Dawes and so many other seasoned photographers for documenting skateboarding and providing inspiration for generations. Much love and many thanks to Scott Johnston, Chris Pastras, Derek Rinaldi, Chris Hall, Jimmy Pelletier, Hojin Chang, Steve Teague, Brian Tucci and all my OGs for their support.