Philip Baker: 1904 Photography

Philip is a rad photographer killing it with some of the best photos of your West Coast favourites. He tells us about how he got into photography and answers an age old question.
JimmyHey Stretch, how was your weekend?
Can’t complain, started my winter break off with food poisoning and then did my usual shooting on Palomar Mountain. Now I’m packing for a 3,500+ mile road trip.

Spending Christmas on the road?
No, All those miles in 6 days. Gotta be home for My girlfriends birthday on the 22nd.

What’ll you be up to in that time?
Visiting a bunch of national parks. A few of the worlds largest things… Other random road trip oddity stuff.

Yeah, I plan to mount a bison head in the back seat of the STi. Of course. I’m really looking forward to photographing a bunch of new places on the way.

Haha. When did you get into photography?
2006 or so… I grabbed my parents old point and shoot and started taking photos of my car.

Did it take long to fall in love with it?
Not really, I was shooting my car, which I thought was the coolest thing since sliced bacon… So what can’t I love? I had a bunch of friends that were aspiring photographers that would shoot my car and I could peek over their shoulder and learn.

What else did you shoot in those early days?
Nothing really… It wasn’t until I got a DSLR that I started actually shooting other things. The point and shoot stuff wasn’t worth sharing with people… haha. After getting the DSLR I started shooting some paintball and eventually shot my first national paintball event in 2008.
Zak and Max and Mike

Do you only ever shoot with digital?
I primarily shoot with digital… I had to take some film classes when I was getting my Photography degree. I also like to play around with a disposable camera and my fuji instax every now and then.

How does shooting events differ from still life?
I love shooting events. The places they bring you and the people you meet on top of the photos you get are awesome. Still life is still fun, but for me, it’s kinda like the pull away from the usual, something to stir things up. I have a love/hate relationship with portraits. With cars, the subject doesn’t tell you its rear looks big…

Are cars your favourite things to shoot?
Probably, they are easy and they look amazing. It’s hard not to get a good photo of a nice car.

When did you first shoot skateboarding?
A mutual friend with Drew Edwards told me he knew some kids that could slide pieces of wood around and I should take photos of them. I shot them one day, and then I shot photos at Drew’s first Double Rainbow Race.

If photography captures a piece of the soul of those you shoot – what happens when you photograph gingers?
The ginger wins…

Had you had any encounters with skateboarders before that first day?
I took some photos at the local skate park one day… and it’s southern California, everyone skates around here.

Do you?
I can push around and what not… but can’t slide and have the balance of a drunk giraffe, so I don’t see it happening any time soon.

How was the experience of the Double Rainbow Outlaw?
Really cool. Like I said, always cool meeting new people and of course meeting people in this community can’t be too bad. I hadn’t been to an event that got broken up by the cops since my street racing days.

Was it difficult to capture good moments?
Not at all. I felt that the auto side of my photography really transferred over well to shooting downhill. Slide jams are still throwing me for a loop tho. It takes me a while to figure out what I want to shoot.

How was the reception of your photography?
Most people were digging it, but most of the people who were seeing it were in the photos, and who wouldn’t love photos of themselves. Max Dubler said I photoshopped my stuff too much.

Had you?
Technically, no. I used Adobe Camera Raw… Which is a part of Bridge. But I did do some “adjustments” to the image in question.

Did you shoot any other skate stuff in 2011?
That was pretty close to the end of the year so not really. I did shoot some stuff with Jimmy Riha on Palomar before the end of the year.

Do skaters make good subjects?
Yeah and no. Since they are people, they can run up to you after and question whether you got a photo, or mention that they look fat, or their form is off. But then again, they do some cool stuff that results in kick ass shots.

What made you want to come back for more?
People, the places I’ve been going… and money… money always helps.

What was the first shot you sold?
A shot from the DRO. The one Dubler said had too much photoshop.

What did you get up to in 2012?
That was probably one of my favourite years shooting so far. But then again this one wasn’t bad either. I got to go to Catalina, Maryhill, Berkeley (How I met my girl) all for skating, then I also shot a full series of Paintball all over the country.

Does your lady skate?
Negative. She is a student at Cal… I just had a mutual friend see that I was there and introduced us.

What was Catalina like?
Awesome. A buddy and I pretty much spent all our money on a last minute decision to go. We didn’t have anywhere to stay when we got there but thanks to the guys at Abec and PNL we crashed on their floor.

What was most fun about that trip?
So many fun times.. but just roaming the hill and finding random places to shoot. And of course meeting all the crazy people.

Do you take better pictures when you’re happy?
Eh, I don’t think my mood has an effect like that. I think I can be down and out and still take good shots. It’s the motivation that has to be there. I could be happy, and not want to be shooting.

What motivates you to be a better you?
As a photographer, other photographers. Seeing people come out with something that inspires me is great motivation. And also some constructive criticism never hurts anyone. It’s the only way to get better.

Did you get to hang out with any other skate photographers that weekend?
Yeah, it’s hard not to when you’re stuck on a course for a few days. I’m a pretty quiet guy so it takes me a while to get talking with people.

Who are you favourite photographers?
Ari has been a guy I looked up to as soon as I first saw his work. Dubler, Stokowski and then I can just ramble off names of regular photogs. Larry Chen is someone I would definitely want to put down in the auto world.

What took you to Maryhill?
Muir Skate!

Fun experience?
Absolutely! I had never been on a trip like that before. It was another last minute plan with a buddy. We hopped in the van and bummed our way to Maryhill. Stopped off in San Francisco which I had never been before and a bunch of other random places along the way. Just an overall cool experience.

What was it like shooting the famous loops?
Incredible. It’s hard not to get a good photo out there. I just wish I had my own car at the time. I would have gone out shooting more random stuff other than skating!

Like what?
Well I’m a big fan of star trails, so this year when I had more free time, I shot some over the Stonehenge War Memorial. So more stuff like that.


What’s more fun – local sessions or races?
I have to say races. I really like travelling. But don’t get me wrong, shooting with homies around the corner is always a good time.

How has your relationship with the homies developed over the past 2 years?
I haven’t shot any skating aside from the last DRO, so I’ve been letting myself slide away from friends, but I’ve got a great group of guys I shoot around the local mountains.

Have you had a fun year?
Well, it started with my car almost getting totalled, so that sucked. But this has been a pretty good year for me. I shot Barrett Junction, Catalina… I can’t even remember what else I shot. I did get to do a crazy road trip with Jimmy Riha to Maryhill and Whistler this year. Attended a Sports Shooter Academy Workshop which was my first time attending a workshop and was awesome.Maryhill

If every job paid a dollar – what would you be?
A Photographer… and you let me know when they start paying.

Would you do if it didn’t pay?
Anyone want a poorly used kidney?

What’s your favourite thing to shoot?
Palomar Mountain… Theres motorcycles and star trails all in the same place.

What do you do when you’re not photographing?
Edit. Then there is all the other stuff associated with being self employed. And I’m finishing up my degrees in college. When I do have free time, I like to go on road trips and random drives if I don’t have a lot of time.

What does 1904 mean?
19=S 04=D S+D=San Diego… My home town.

Pick 3 numbers between 1-14!
Oh come on… I can’t make 1904 with anything there.

1-9-04. outside the box dude!

1 – If you had to be a bad guy in a movie, who would you be?
Gny Sgt Hartman from Full Metal Jacket.

9 – what would you choose as your last meal?
In N Out

04 – what’s the scariest thing that’s happened to you?
I’ve had a lot of close calls. A recent one was a dude spinning out on Palomar Mountain and almost hitting my car.

What are your plans for next year?
Shoot more. Travel More.

Will we see you in Europe someday?
It’ll happen. You know anyone looking to send a photographer that way?!

It’s been fun having this chat with you bro. Stoked to get a glimpse behind the lens.
Thanks man. Just looked, can’t believe we went through that many questions.

Any last words?
Thanks to everyone who has helped make all the things I do possible. From letting me crash on a floor to a ride from the airport, or simply sharing a photo of mine. The support means everything to me.