News: Renowned photographer visits Navy Public Affairs Support Element West
Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Drew Verbis
SAN DIEGO – J. Grant Brittain, the founder and photo editor for a major action-sports publication, led an advanced photography, lighting and composition training session to provide sailors with tips for taking award-winning imagery.
Regarded as a pioneer in skateboard photography, Brittain’s images have consistently been published in top sporting magazines around the world to include The Skateboard Mag and Transworld SKATEboarding.
“Skateboarding photography is a creative art form, and for the past three decades, Grant has been one of the most respected photographers in the business,” Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brian Brannon said. “As visual image professionals, we can learn a lot from his experience.”
Brittain spent the better part of an hour providing participants with an overview of his published works and detailing subject matter and photography techniques.
“Here’s one of the greatest, Tony Hawk when he was about 16,” said Brittain. “We called him Boney Hawk back those in days. This was shot in a massive pipe close to my house using black and white. I love black and white, and I’m always looking for interesting places to shoot portraits. You see the black shadow? It was created accidentally, probably by the camera hood but I liked the way it looked. I consider it to be a happy accident.”
Sailors from NPASE West, 7th Fleet, and NPASE Midwest enjoyed hearing the candid stories about his experiences photographing some of the most famous names in skateboarding.
“I appreciate how honest he is,” said Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Daniel Lewis. “I was inspired by his journey. He learned along the way, improving with each photo. I hope to reach his level someday.”
Brittain stressed the importance of lighting techniques, offered advice about camera angles and prompted a discussion about transitioning from 35 mm film to digital.
“You have to see the shot before you take it,” said Brittain while discussing camera angles. “I’m always envisioning where I want the subject to be and how much space to use. This is critical for layout because you don’t want to publish a photo as a spread in a magazine with a huge seam running through the subject.”
He also shared occupational challenges of sports photography.
“Sometimes you’ll spend a lot of time working with a subject and setting up a shot, and then another photographer will see what you’re doing and take the same photo,” said Grant. “We call that poaching.”
Seaman Mass Communication Specialist Nolan Kahn said Brittain’s presentation gave him a new perspective.
“This style of photography isn’t how we’re trained,” Kahn said. “But it was motivational and educational to see his perspective, and I was impressed by what he produces with fish-eye lenses.”
Learn more about Navy Public Affairs Support Element West at http://www.navy.mil/local/nrpacensd/ or visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy or www.twitter.com/usnavy.