Glen E Friedman, is one of the most important and influential photographers of the last 50 years. His photographs are renowned for capturing the quintessential moment of the subject, encompassing the feeling, spirit and body of the era. During an epic career, which started when he was first published at 14 years of age, spanning almost 30 years now, he has worked with such artists as the Ice-T, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Bad Brains Fugazi, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, and Run-D.M.C, as well as Tony Alva, Jay Adams, Stacy Peralta, and Tony Hawk to name a few. I could go on but then I'd just be name-dropping. Static Mag caught up with Glen at a very exciting time to ask him a few questions, with the launch of his new 'art' book "Recognize" due out shortly. Enjoy.
Static: How old were you when you first picked up a camera?
Glen: Probably about 10 years old.
S:Do you ever use a digital camera?
G: No, not usually, but I have borrowed one a few times. In general I think they're great for most of the photography that goes on these days, but just not for what I do. It's not about the equipment; it's about your heart, the person, your eye, for composition and clarity of the moment. I use the most basic equipment there is, you see the results...
S: You said before, mainstream commercial professional sports are full of shit, just a diversion from real life for the politicians to take advantage of. I was just wondering what do you think about the last few decades of commercialization on the skating industry?
G: It's a natural outcome of what was going on. I mean in the 70's when I started showing and taking pictures of skaters, to be honest it was kind of the goal, to inspire other people to experiment. You know, it meant everything to me and it was really interesting and creative. We wanted to make skateboarding mainstream, we wanted it to become a part of the culture at large, to influence and inspire around the world. The over-commercialization of skateboarding is only a natural outcome of society and its time at the moment. Not everyone can hold on to it with the integrity that some other people do, or they look at it as just another sport like football or basketball. People just think it's the "cool thing to do" and don't really use it as the outlet that we all used it for. Some things change some things stay the same.
S: Your photos have a lot of intensity in them. I was just wondering how do you keep up the intensity? Because for decades I've noticed you've not only been able to maintain a great composition in your work, but the feel for the right moment.
G: Well, I think that comes from being involved, a skater myself, you know being a punk rocker and being into hip-hop. Everything that I shoot is generally something that I'm very interested in, and I think that's the main reason why the work looks the way it does. I've always had an intensity about life, a passion and a will to make things better and change things; to create a place I think will benefit more lives all of the time. That's what motivates me to do and share the work I do.
S: About DogTown and Z Boys, the film, it went on to win best documentary at Sundance, and several other major film festivals. I was just wondering, has that had an effect on the last few years of your life?
G: Yes, it has had some small effect. But not really that much, I'm not really interested in the movie business. It's just brought a little more attention to the culture, so that's cool, a little more attention to my books too. I put in a lot of time and effort to make the documentary what it was, I don't feel ashamed to say, most people who saw it probably never would have even heard of the documentary if it wasn't for my work on it. I think it's pretty good film. The footage is beautiful. I think it also has some great faults to it, but I think it's just very good it was made. The director had his own skewed perspective on things and his own agenda. It could have been better. Basically though, it let people know a little bit more what was going on at that time, hopefully it's inspiring them, and to some degree coming back and inspiring us.
S: What do you think about the new feature film The Lords of DogTown?
G: I think the Hollywood attitude is "you know there's a story so why don't you make a film about it", I mean that's what Hollywood does. I think that's fine that they have attempted it, I never thought it would be any good anyway, just to mimic all that went on accurately I thought would be impossible. I had NOTHING to do with it. I actually have seen an advanced screening of it and I wasn't too impressed overall� it had a Hollywood beginning and a Hollywood ending. It had some truths, it portrayed of my friends, certain aspects of the people and their culture were shown on the 'big screen' Some points were definitely entertaining and some points were definitely corny but you know perhaps I'm too close to it to really to make a fair critical analysis of it at this time. But other friends of mine who were very close to the whole thing think it's a great movie, and still others think it's absolutely atrocious, so, oh well, I haven't really made my final decision on that yet, But by no means can you consider it a 'good film', maybe a 'fun movie' at best? But it has it's moments, I'll admit that, and I LOVED the trailer, I was really blown away by that, so I wasn't a "hater" on the project by any means. I never expected it to be good because I knew it would be so hard to re-create, but I always hoped it would be.
S: It says on you website you have a new book coming out "Recognize" tell us about the book and the idea's behind it?
G: Roughly "Recognize" is the document of the mission I have been on for the last 5 years. I'm very excited about the unique beauty of the world and the planet in all its forms, and more often than not I'm very UN-inspired by what people call art these days. I'm really just trying to bring people back to the basics, recognizing beauty for what it is. It's not only about that reaction; I felt I had a responsibility to do it! In order to help "re-align the visual aesthetic" of the younger generation and of the culture on a whole. To me it seems to have been dumbed down over the last 15 years or so. With this I'm trying to bring it back to the base, start at the beginning as they say. I'm hoping to open peoples' eyes all over again.
S: Ok, brilliant. I'd like to conclude by asking you about your statement "Fuck You Heroes is my social document and the Idealist is more my artistic statement". I was just wondering what you thought "Recognize" would be considered?
G: An earth shattering masterpiece? (Laughing) I guess it's kind of a continuation of the ideas set forth in the idealist, but just concentrating on one subject and taking it to the hilt. You know on a more social level it's artistically relevant. This is meant to really arouse and wake some dead brains up. This one is more of a proclamation in its relevance to art and photography and my perspective on things, I really wanted to surprise some of the skeptics. But really it is something that I hope inspires people. I really love it and I'm really excited about it and the possibilities and impact it may have on the relevance of vision in art and in general.
G: My best advice to people would be to take their time and analyze certain things and take their time to appreciate all that's around them and take life seriously, it's not all a joke, and you can have some impact, I hope everyone strives to have positive impact, that's what I do.
"Recognize" will be due out September the 28th..